Imagine this: You’re out to dinner with your new significant other and a group of friends. You’re straight, so you and your partner are different genders. You’ve only been dating a few months and are excited for your friends to meet this new person in your life. Everyone has finished their meals and the waitress is on her way back to the table with everyone’s check. Because the table is full of couples, all parties will be receiving a bill that includes both their meal and their partner’s. You notice one of your friends acting as if she wants to ask something. She’s staring at you and your date, seemingly waiting to see what your next move will be. And before the checks arrive, she finally spits it out.

“So, I mean, how do you two decide who pays? Do you just take turns, or what?”

Okay. So you’re telling me you’ve never had this happen to you as a straight couple? No one has ever asked you how on earth you will ever decide which of the two of you will pick up the dinner bill?

Of course you haven’t! You are a man and a woman on a date. Society would assume that the man pays, right? But what if there’s no man in your relationship? This is what makes people lose their minds and ask silly questions like, “How in the ever-loving world do you decide who pays for the meal?” The above story is a scenario that actually happened to me. And the question has been asked to me outside of that scenario; many times, in fact. As if my wife and I (who was then my girlfriend) must be lost in how to function in our relationship without pivotal gender roles. I have heard this question from curious strangers, and even from friends who are inquiring with complete sincerity.

In a sense, I don’t blame them. Our society is so bred to believe that a relationship must consist of someone who plays the role of the man and someone who plays the role of a woman. Typical responsibilities of a man, in conjunction with today’s societal norms, include opening doors, paying for dinners and bringing in the sole (or higher) income. Women are to be wined and dined, protected and experts when it comes to the kids. I know that these notions may seem archaic, however, take a look around. They’re not nearly as outdated as you would think.

Asking a same-sex couple, “Who is the guy?” or “Which of you is like the girl?” is just another way to blatantly point out that society values, and is most comfortable with, a relationship that consists of two different genders. In my relationship, there is no guy. And guess what? It’s no big deal. There is not one day of my marriage that I have woken up wishing that I had a man to open a door for me, or that I had a husband to wine and dine me. Bear with me, but my wife opens doors for me. And I for her. And my wife takes me on mid-week, romantic date nights. We take turns cooking dinner and doing the laundry, and we share parental duties when it comes to our pups. We are a team. We are far from perfect, but we certainly do not need a man in this relationship for it to function healthily just as so many others do.

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Photo via “This is what it’s like getting married 4 years after marriage equality

Do we have roles in our relationship? Absolutely. My wife is my protector. That is a role that she undoubtedly plays. I take care of the finances and monitor our expenses throughout the month. So, of course, like any other couple, we each have our duties or our roles that help to make this marriage a successful one. But those duties are not bound by gender. They are based on who we are as a person: Our strengths and our weaknesses, our passions and our pet peeves. We pick up for each other where the other may struggle and encourage each other in an area where we excel.  

If you are in a relationship in which you and your spouse represent societally designated gender roles, whether that be on purpose or by accident, that’s great! No part of this is meant to degrade any relationship—same-sex, opposite sex or nonbinary—for how it functions. You should do you and be proud to be in a healthy, strong relationship, however that may look.

In order for two people to feel that their partnership is successful and balanced, there don’t need to be people of different genders. We are progressing as a society, and gender roles are slowly becoming less expected. And this is not just in regards to same-sex couples. Heterosexual couples are often detouring from the notion that specific genders must play a role in a relationship. Women are stronger and more ambitious than ever and men are more emotionally supportive than ever. Imagine the magic just waiting to happen if more couples across the board stepped outside of the societal norms and supported each other in a way that makes sense for both of them, rather than moving through life playing a role they believe to be required of them.

In order for my marriage to be successful, we don’t need one of us to always be the dinner payer, or the food prepper, or the date night planner. We need to be a team, one that is cheering for each other on a daily basis. I’ll continue to cheer Laine on as she washes our dirty clothes, and I may even buy her a nice dinner after she finishes said laundry. By asking us who is the guy, you are suggesting, whether knowingly or unknowingly, that a relationship needs a guy. My relationship has two gals, and we are celebrating that every day of this marriage by loving each other as genuinely and fiercely as we can. And for that, all we need is each other. Two women in hardcore love, no man in sight. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Kaila Strickland HeadshotKaila Strickland lives in Dallas, Texas, with her wife, Laine, and their two dogs. She works in the wine industry by day and has a passion for writing and fitness. In her free time, she enjoys working on her blog, taking group fitness classes and traveling with her spouse. She is a firm believer in all things equality and believes wholeheartedly that love always wins. You can find more writing content from her at The Comfy Closet.