The Rules Have Changed: Gender Roles in Modern Society

16/05/2016 11:45 | Updated 16 May 2016

The fast food model of standardized one-size-fits all approach to relationships no longer works.

Conformity to gender specific roles is increasingly being rejected in favour of a more individual approach. Modern men and women don't want to be pigeon holed into one type of role. Instead, both sexes possess personal ambitions and aspirations for the future, seeking successful careers and personal fulfilment, freedom and satisfaction from life. However, this has led to a whole new set of challenges for contemporary couples.

At the heart of most relationship problems nowadays is unclear expectations and contradictory roles or goals between partners. Modern couples are plagued with a whole set of new problems - where to live if each partner's job is in a different location? Separate or joint bank accounts? Kids and family or pursue a full-time career? Who'll do the cooking, who'll do the cleaning? And even, where to holiday if partners have different interests and hobbies?

Our parents, and certainly our grandparents, didn't normally face these problems. Just a mere 50 or 60 years ago roles in relationships were much more clear-cut. Two people knew what to expect from a relationship when they came together. Men's chief duties dealt with issues outside the home, while women covered the responsibilities pertaining to the home. Therefore, no matter where you grew up or what your parents were like, across the board, marriage conveyed certain principles for both men and women. Your grandfather probably didn't marry your grandmother wondering where they would live because her career advancement might require relocating. Similarly, your grandmother probably expected your grandfather to be a provider and didn't give much thought to whether he knew how to cook or clean because she didn't want to do these things.

Conformity to roles may have been limiting, but they still provided some guidelines and shared expectations. Shared expectations and a mutual understanding of what each person's primary role is going to be in a relationship can save two people a great deal of misunderstanding and arguing. Could it be that the gender roles we've worked so hard to break out of for so many decades may have actually helped reduce marital conflict and disagreements? And what does this mean for the modern man or woman? Should women pick up their aprons and head to the kitchen, while men try to bring in the bacon in hopes of a more peaceful and conflict free marriage?

Well let's not be so hasty to give up decades of advancement in equality just yet.

The modern couple, if they can find a way to communicate their needs openly and clearly to each other, can establish a fulfilling relationship on a scale that's never been seen before. Our grandparents could only dream of the freedom and fulfilment today's adults can achieve in a successful partnership. While our grandparents may have required cooking, cleaning and provider skills to run a successful relationship, today's couples require communication skills. A willingness to talk about everything; understanding each other's values, beliefs and point of view is the key to today's happy couples. In the past people had to adjust themselves to fit into the ideals of a relationship set by society, while today we have the luxury of adjusting our relationship to fit us - a great advancement indeed.