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Peer Marriage: A new way to do marriage

"If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave."
     —Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Before we were married, we were college sweethearts.  We were best friends, study buddies, work partners, and colleagues. Jake honored Jenn by giving her half his salary when he was doing youth ministry at a local church and Jenn loaned him her car and actively led in the youth group Jake was working at.  If one had a need, the other did their best to fill it, regardless of the cost, emotionally or financially. There was no boss, someone in charge, or one more important in their career choice. We were equals and we operated as equals in every sense of the word.

So it was no surprise we decided to get married as we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s companionship, held a deep friendship, and worked beautifully together. But sadly, we carried some traditional marriage characteristics in our marriage that frustrated and confused both of us. Even though we never stopped seeing each other as equals, we started showing behaviors that created inequity: putting Jake’s career before Jenn’s, making Jenn the primary household and childcare provider, and gave more responsibility to Jake for financial provision and management.  What we loved most about each other and the equality we developed was replaced by some traditional marriage beliefs that never were "us." We lost our authentic relationship values! We longed for our college day relationship that operated in equity and content connectedness.

Out of a deep passion and desire within both of us, we made a radical move. We both walked away from our careers, opened up our own counseling practices, and began sharing the parenting, household, and financial responsibilities. We did a split life of career and parenting. People thought we were crazy and well-meaning friends and family cautioned us of the challenges of developing a marriage of shared responsibilities, warning us it would never work. Yet, we were miserable in our marriage and needed to go back to what we already knew worked. There was no name for this marriage model at that time, but now it has been termed a Peer Marriage.

There are basically four characteristics of a Peer Marriage
1. Equitable split of household duties and childcare. 2. Shared and equal contribution to important decisions. 3. Equal control and decision with the finances. 4. Both contributing financially to the household.

In comparison, with a traditional marriage there are gender-specific tasks and the partners operate in two different spheres while they live parallel lives and tend to connect sporadically. Typically, the woman manages the children and the household, and puts her career on hold, while the man leaves the home and advances his career to provide for the family. There is not always an equal split of the household duties. Often the man makes the important decisions, and is the financial manager in the marriage. It has a low divorce rate and works beautifully if both partners are agreeable to this marriage model.

One Kingdom is valuable for any marriage, as it gives a road-map to create the fairytale you want to live, and capitalizes on the similar longings of each. It is the tool we wish we had years ago, but knew we had to write for other couples limping along in an ineffective marriage model that was not bringing out the authentic relationship they were designed to live.


  • Establish a shared value system for the marriage you want to create by writing it down and posting it.
  • Most conflict arises due to how "small" we make our partner feel; talk about what makes you feel "small."
  • What you create organically is your authentic self; talk about what brought the two of you together.
  • Acquire new information that inspires different thinking and behavior (check out Modernizing Marriage: Equity and flexibility make better husbands and wives, an article by Pepper Schwartz.
"God, thank you for my partner and the gift we have in us. May we be wise and protective of our authenticity, and live the marriage you designed for us."

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