As in all other cases, the majority of male or female partners have secondary school education. Nearly every second man in the sample has a partner with secondary education, and the partner of every fourth man has junior college or university education. About two-thirds of female partners are employed, while about one-fifth of them are unemployed (and they are looking or not looking for a job). This means that a vast majority of women in intimate partnerships have their own income (including pensions, rentals, etc.) or contribute to the family budget (with monetary contribution, while non-monetary contribution provided through unpaid domestic work is not included here).
As regards decision making related to children, a large majority of respondents answered that they participated in decision making “equally” (68.1%), with the frequency of this response increasing in younger age groups. In the age group 25-30, as many as three-thirds of answers were “together”. However, it is interesting that the answer “my wife” has a clear reverse connection with the respondents’ education. Thus, while as many as 33.3% of those with the lowest education state that the decision is made by their wife, this answer is given by only 3.1% of the most educated ones. This data suggests the overcoming of the model of “self/sacrificing micro-matriarchy” (Blagojević, 1994; Hughson, 2015), whereby the concentration of women’s power in the micro-sphere is also surpassed, and it is more evenly distributed with the equal sharing of responsibilities.
Men decide on their own twice more often about the matters concerning big investments than about daily consumption. Thus, in case of big investments, every fifth man decides on his own, unlike in case of minor expenses, where every tenth man decides independently. However, also in this case the most frequent answer is “together” (71.6%). There is also an interesting tendency of changing “micro-matriarchy”, which is growing in the younger age groups of respondents. Thus, in one-fourth of the families of the youngest respondents, this decision is made by the female partner, unlike in one-twentieth of the families of the oldest respondents.
Both men and women assess similarly the role of their spouse/partner. In case of big investments, the answer “together” is most frequent, which shows that household-related strategic decisions are made jointly.
Unlike in the families of origin, in the families of procreation, that is – in the next generation, there is a shift towards a more egalitarian division of labour; the progress is rather significant and the sons are excluded from the division of labour to a much lesser extent.
Note: The answer NEVER is given to the question “Has your father ever performed these tasks?”, while the answer MY PARTNER ALWAYS DOES IT is given to the question “How do you and your partner share housework?”.
Although women continue to have a high participation in performing tasks such as: cooking and preparing food, house cleaning, washing and maintaining clothes, the share of the answer “equally” is growing. Especially encouraging is a large share of the answers “together”, referring to the performing of tasks such as: purchasing food and other household items, paying home bills, but also taking care of elderly parents and ill and dependent household members. Car maintenance and home repairs remain the domain of male activities, while garden and courtyard tasks are shared equally.
Half of both men and women think that their partners are rather satisfied with this division of labour. However, the differences in assessment are evident when it comes to the high degrees of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. In fact, women more often feel that their partners are very satisfied than vice versa. This shows that although the situation is changing towards balancing the division of labour, it is not sufficient. Taking into account not only the type of work, but also its frequency during the week and month, as well as the amount of time spent, it is clear that cooking is not the same type of burden as occasional repairs.
When satisfaction with the division of housework is matched with age, it can be seen that the most satisfied are the youngest male and female respondents, that is, those who probably do not have children yet and who are also at the beginning of their marital/partner cycle. This is in line with the findings from other studies that show that the equality of spouses, or those living in cohabitation, can be significantly changed when a child is born. By the age of 40, the percentage of the answers “very satisfied” is decreasing in women, while it varies in men.
Satisfaction with the division of labour in the family and household varies in both women and men and in relation to education. Men with the lowest level of education are most dissatisfied with the division of labour, while women with the highest level of education are most satisfied. Some other research studies in Serbia have proven that education is an important determinant of a successful negotiating position of women, which allows the establishment of more egalitarian relationships and an increase in overall satisfaction and happiness (Blagojević, 1997).
Satisfaction with marriage and partners is generally high in both men and women. As many as about 85% of men and about 75% of women are very satisfied and satisfied with their marriage/cohabitation. Also, the vast majority would also choose again the same person (80% of men and about 70% of women). Good moments prevail in the marriages of both men and women, again more often in men than in women. In general, these answers show that women are more dissatisfied with their marriages than men, which may be associated with a lower level of satisfaction due to the division of housework, violence and other factors that have not been specifically examined here (for example, partners’ earnings, alcoholism etc.).
Observed by age, the most satisfied with marriage are women 25-30 years old, and the least satisfied are the ones 41-50 years of age. The oldest men are somewhat less satisfied with their marriage compared to other men from the sample.
In terms of education, the most dissatisfied with their marriage are the least educated women, who in almost one-fifth of cases do not agree with the positive statements about marriage. On the other hand, the most educated men and women are most satisfied with their marriage.
In line with the high level of satisfaction with marriage/cohabitation, a small number of these respondents would divorce if they could afford it. In fact, only one in ten men and one in five women from the sample mainly or fully agree with this view. Fewer men than women think that parents should assume equal responsibility for children after divorce, that men who do not pay child support should be punished and that violent men should not be allowed custody of children. It is obvious that men express solidarity with other men and that behind such responses there is a widespread belief that it is necessary to “defend men from too many women’s rights”. There are also differences in the men’s and women’s views of whether women and children should be protected from violent men after divorce, where more women are in favour of such protection. As many as four-fifths of men agree with the statement that after divorce both parents should assume equal responsibility in raising their children, and almost the same share of men believe that women who do not allow men to see their children after divorce should be punished.