#1 Role Reversers
Ariella Rogge, 39 and Matt Rogge, 44
Ariella Rogge is one of a growing group of wives bucking tradition: She works full time as head of a girls’ camp while her husband, Matt, stays home with their boys, ages eight and four. “Shifting roles and shattering the gender paradigms of our part of the country has been taxing,” she admits, “but I feel it’s an incredible opportunity for our sons to learn what it means to be a man.” Married for 13 years, the Rogges met in Kansas, then both landed jobs with the nonprofit Colorado Outdoor Education Center. Ariella loved hers, but Matt wasn’t thrilled with his. In 2006, when their older son was 18 months old, Matt suggested he stay at home with the child and handle most of the cooking and shopping. He still takes the occasional gig as a corporate trainer, earning a third to half of what Ariella does.
The Rogges’ relationship reflects two national trends: They’re among the 22 percent of married couples in which the wife earns more than her husband, up significantly from 4 percent in 1970. And Matt is part of another rapidly growing group: According to the latest U.S. census, the numberof dads staying home to takecare of children under age 15 has more than doubled in the past decade. Ariella shares her thoughts:
Blazing a path Matt and I are constantly fighting what we knew as kids. Sometimes I fall into my dad’s role: I come home thinking, I worked all day; it’s time for me to sit and read a magazine. But we allwork all day long—parenting is a full-time job for both parents.Reality is more challenging than theory; it looks more like a kid’s finger painting than a Monet.
We’d rethink things if . . . Matt was deeply unhappy. Our relationship is paramount to the success of our family; being the partners we need to be for each other helps us be the parents we need to be for our kids.
I want my sons to learn . . . that nobody’s role is more or less important than anyone else’s within a marriage.
Unexpected rewards There’s a little bit of feeling like pioneers—us against the world—because we do marriage differently.
When the going gets tough . . . there’s power in remembering “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part.” You’ve said in front of God and everyone you love that you’re going to work on this. That’s important, because there are days when it’s hard.
#2 Living Together, No License
Maryann Karninch, 60, and Jim McCormick, 56
Estes Park, Colorado
Maryanna and Jim met in San Francisco at a conference for adventure athletes; their first date was skydiving. She’s a literary agent and author, he’s a motivational speaker and corporate coach, and they’ve lived together for nearly 17 years. Neither has children. Last year the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 15.3 million heterosexual Americans were in live-in relationships; 47 percent of them are 35 or older, and 13 percent are 55 or older. Some may eventually marry, but Maryann and Jim have no such plans.
“We like our independence, and we like our ability to work as a team when we want to,” she says. “We’re in a state of unwedded bliss.” Maryann continues:
Why not wed? We’re happy the way we are. We’d both been married before; it didn’t work. Our expectations for this relationship are that we’re mutually supportive, that we have a hot love and that we have fun. Would marriage make it hotter or more fun? I don’t think so. We feel a continual renewal of our appreciation of each other with no sense of obligation.
Who’s happier—the married or the un-? It’s highly individual. I have a good friend who’s married to a super guy, and they have what Jim and I have. People in this country are at a place where they realize that if you want the church or state to bless your union, you can go ahead; if not, you still have a union.