Here’s some great news. The vast majority of young people — about 80% of women and 70% of men across all races, classes, and family backgrounds — desire an egalitarian marriage in which both partners share bread-winning, housekeeping, and child-rearing. (This data comes from Kathleen Gerson‘s fabulous 2010 book, The Unfinished Revolution.)

In practice, however, egalitarian relationships are difficult to establish. Both work and family are “greedy institutions,” ones that take up lots of time and energy. Many couples find that, once children arrive, it’s impossible for both to do both with equal gusto.

With this in mind, Gerson asked her respondents what type of family they would like if, for whatever reason, they couldn’t sustain an equal partnership. She discovered that, while men’s and women’s ideals are very similar, their fallback positions deviate dramatically.

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