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A Much Belated Recommendation Fo...

Posted Aug 24 2008 4:21pm

A Much Belated Recommendation

For some reason, I'm just now getting around to reading Pepper Schwartz's 'Love Between Equals' . This book, previously published under the title 'Peer Marriage' and then republished with its current title in 1995, is an eloquently written ode to equally shared parenting. Pepper Schwartz is a sociology professor at the University of Washington, and straddles the line between popular magazine columnist and serious academic. Her main area of study is actually sexual behavior, but she was a co-investigator for a very large project back in 1983 called American Couples . It is from the interviews she conducted with couples for this project, and subsequent additional couples, that she gleans the information for 'Love Between Equals'.

I must have glanced at this title among the others of its genre dozens of times, but for some reason its pages hid in a blind spot until now. And now it takes its place in our Resources section with highest honors, and I cherish my dogeared and underlined copy.

'Love Between Equals' is about the pros and cons of a peer marriage (Dr. Schwartz's term for a marriage of equals) - whether or not children are part of the family. Many of the examples in the book do include couples with children, however. It is clear from her writing that she believes fervently in this lifestyle.

The primary theme of the book is the deep friendship and intimacy that is possible when partners treat each other as true equals. Dr. Schwartz contrasts a peer marriage with a traditional one and a 'near-peer' one (her term for a marriage between partners who would like to be peers - sort of - but aren't willing to make the sacrifices to actually get there). She outlines the benefits and challenges of all three types of marriage in a clear, humanistic and nonjudgmental way. Her message is every bit as vital as Leslie Bennetts' financial message of doom for SAHMs, but without the overarching tone of superiority.

There is almost nothing I disagree with in 'Love Between Equals'. If I had one criticism, it would be that the book doesn't even mention the option of both parents scaling back their careers to less than full-time - although it clearly describes the need for peer partners to limit their careers so that neither person's job occupies the primary breadwinner slot. By the way, don't let the publication date dissuade you - this book's message is still fresh and vital.

As I read the book, I kept pulling Marc over and reading passages to him. I imagined how the world would be a better place if all couples read this book and took its contents to heart - marriages would flourish and love would abound. Okay, cut the hearts and flowers theme song now. But seriously, I could not recommend this book more strongly. If you are contemplating creating and nourishing an equal marriage, this book will give you all the reasons to make it real. Hopefully, will give you the action plan to go along with those reasons!
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