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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union

Roles in Marriage

Most married women in the Soviet Union worked outside the home in addition to fulfilling their roles of wife, mother, and homemaker. As in other industrialized countries, women had difficulty reconciling the demands of career and home.

At home, Soviet women spent more than twice as much time on housework as men--an average of twenty-eight hours a week as opposed to twelve--and women resented this. Before marriage, the average woman was said to have had forty-two hours a week of free time, but after marriage this number was cut in half. Not surprisingly, Soviet research has shown that marital happiness was directly connected to the extent a husband shared in domestic work. Husbands and wives from the elite tended to share decisions and housework to a greater extent than those from other social strata. In blue-collar and agricultural families, the husband was considered head of the household, although the wife held the purse strings.

Nationality appeared to be less of an influence on marital roles than social status and place of residence. By the mid-1970s, even most Muslim husbands were willing to share in some housework with their wives; the higher the socioeconomic status of the family, the more the husband shared the work. In Muslim families and in other nationality groups where the patriarchal system has remained strong, the husband was regarded as the head of the family and made most of the major family decisions. Among younger and better educated Muslims, however, and in the European part of the Soviet Union, the husband and wife shared in the decision making, a practice that may have resulted from the wife's increasing contribution to family income.

Data as of May 1989