Gay and lesbian couples are more likely to have satisfying marital and family relations than straight couples, says a leading researcher in both family issues and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships.
Robert-Jay Green, executive director of the Rockway Institute which is affiliated with the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, says that gay and lesbian couples appear to be better than straight couples in respect of two key factors that promote healthier relationships flexibility about gender roles and equal division of parenting and household tasks.
'It all comes down to greater equality in the relationship. Research shows that lesbian and gay couples by virtue of being composed of two partners of the same gender have a head start in escaping the traditional gender role divisions that make for power imbalances and dissatisfaction in many heterosexual relationships,' says Green.
In a series of studies that Green conducted with Michael Bettinger and Ellis Zacks, lesbian couples were found to be emotionally closer than gay male couples, who in turn were found to be emotionally closer than heterosexual married couples.
The research also showed that lesbian and gay couples tended to be dramatically more flexible in the way they handled rules and roles in the relationship, for they avoided the traditional division of labour and division of expressive versus instrumental roles toward which heterosexual couple typically evolve over time despite their best intentions, especially after the birth of children.
Other research on parenting also found significant advantages for same-sex couples. In three separate studies, it was found that lesbian partners tended to share parenting and household responsibilities more equally, besides being more satisfied with this division of labour.
In heterosexual dual-career families, on the other hand, mothers often did much more childcare and housework compared to fathers, regardless of equal hours spent at work, an imbalance that often leads to resentment over time.
All of these family researchers concluded that the freedom to defy traditional gender-linked parenting roles helped gay men and lesbians take good just as good care of their children yet preserve greater feelings of fairness in their couple relationships compared to heterosexuals.
'Our research found that the most successful couples demonstrate closeness and flexibility. We found high levels of both characteristics in 79 percent of lesbian couples, 56 percent of gay male couples, but in only 8 percent of heterosexual married couples. Clearly, the more egalitarian approach taken by same-sex couples is an advantage that could benefit straight couples too,' said Green.