Is Your Relationship Symmetrical or Complimentary?
Relationships are more important than ever. When the list of people that we can interact with dwindles, the folks left on it are our own personal "essentials." That fact is never more true when you are talking about your significant other. Having a best friend and confidant is vital to our mental health and well being, so those relationships are the most important of all.
It's no surprise, then, that so many people are taking a long hard look at the person they share their life with and the relationship between them. Mind Body Green delved into the different types of relationships people are experiencing in this day and age with couples therapist Elizabeth Earnshaw. This Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) says that pretty much every relationship falls into one of two categories: Symmetrical or Complimentary.
When we look at examples of a married couple from the past, Earnshaw says they are mostly complimentary. That is: One person handles a portion of the responsibilities, and the the other handles the rest. Classically, this would take the shape of a breadwinner and a homemaker. The breadwinner was tasked with earning the money for the household and the homemaker would handle the bulk of the housework and child-rearing responsibilities.
As time marched on, more and more relationships took the form of symmetry. Symmetrical relationships operate by chopping the responsibilities right down the middle. Both parties are responsible for earning money, cooking dinner, doing laundry, raising the kids, etc. In this form, the emphasis is on equal effort from both partners in all areas.
The real question is: Which one is better? The answer? Neither. According to Earnshaw's research both have proven to produce happiness for both partners. The trouble, according to the data, is when someone "thinks they're experiencing one type of relationship, when the reality is different, or when they can't agree on which they want to be."
The key is honesty. Experts say that you should have an open and non-judgmental conversation about what you have in mind and what you want so that everyone's expectations are properly set.