A few years ago she had a baby – a beautiful strong-minded little girl – and after much toss and turn – she decided that she was not going to return to work as a teacher. So now she is a stay at home mom. [...] This is like the best mom ever, a woman who studies and thinks out all her moves as a mom – what food her daughter should eat, what fabrics should be close to her skin, how much television is too much television – or is she better off with non at all? This woman who washes her own diapers because she’s worried about the earth and yes, she has a partner – who happens to be a man – who works day and night so that she can stay home and raise their daughter in the way she thinks is best. This is a job, and important one, is it not? It is also a job she loves and one that she feels has great meaning for her.
She decides that she stays at home and raises their daughter in a way she thinks is best. A job she loves and has great meaning for her and well, he works day and night to make that happen. Good for her it seems.
I am not saying anything about the relationship at question. I don't know how they came to the conclusion how to live their life. [EDIT: Feministcupcake made it clear in the comments that their friends have an egalitarian relationship] The way the author writes about her friend makes it seem as there is no "we" in this relationship. The role of the father is down-played (she raises their daughter in a way she thinks is best) and it seems he has no say in the matter at all (her decision) and just has to work to make it happen.
When it comes to relationships it seems women have the upper hand, or society expects women to have the upper hand or the final say. This goes beyond stereotypes of nagging women:
Of the 1,260 men and women whom Pew pollsters surveyed over the summer [in 2008], 43% responded that the woman makes most of the major decisions for the family, with 31% saying that the couple makes most decisions together. There was a small difference (within the margin of error) between the control exerted by wives who earn more than their husbands and those who earn less (46% versus 42%). But in both cases, women wielded sole decision-making power far more than men did, indicating that what "father knows best" is when to defer to mom.
Certainly that was what University of Iowa researchers found last year  when they measured how couples negotiate conflict over household decisions. That study not only confirmed that men will usually go along with their wives but found that when couples do disagree, wives are far more persuasive than husbands in changing their spouses' minds.
[... T]he researchers saw that when spouses engaged in debate, the women gained more ground than their husbands did. "[The women] were communicating more powerful messages and men were responding to those messages by agreeing," Mr. Vogel stated in a press release.
The hypothesis that men hold more sway in relationships because they typically make more money didn't play out.
If a bigger paycheck did mean more power in any area of family decision making, the most likely one would be finances. But even there women are in charge, with more women than men in the Pew survey saying that they manage the couple's budget and wives in the Iowa study winning out over husbands in money disagreements. According to Pew, 45% of women said they hold the family purse strings compared to 37% of men.
This despite two-thirds of the couples reporting that the man had the higher income. In fact, in recent years a substantial amount of research has shown that wives lose some of their household decision-making power when they earn more than their husbands, possibly because by spending fewer hours in the home they forfeit claims to certain household "expertise."
[.. A]dvertisers have been tracking the buying habits of American families since the 1940s. What they have found is that women made more of the household purchasing decisions before the advent of the feminist movement and that they make more of the purchasing decisions now, regardless of how big or small their paychecks are. These marketing surveys have been remarkably consistent, and they haven't changed much in the past 60 years.
To be fair, many of the scholarly studies' conclusions include a "final say" contingency -- many husbands claim that they have veto power when they feel very strongly about an issue. But consumer research shows that with the exception of what car to buy and when to buy it, men rarely claim strong enough feelings to override their wives.
"Across all decision-making realms, it tilts to the woman," noted Rich Morin, the Pew study's lead author. "I was surprised by the percentage of men who made none of the decisions in any of the areas. A significant percentage were just bystanders."
[...] The general consensus of sociologists is that, whereas a woman's marital satisfaction is dependent on a combination of economic, emotional and psychological realities, a man's marital satisfaction is most determined by one factor: how happy his wife is. When she is happy, he is. Working within this framework, most husbands are unwilling to dig in their heels on any issue unless they have a tremendous incentive to do so.
Warren Farrell wrote about this, too. From "Women can´t hear what men don´t say" [p.21-22]:
Researchers find that when only one sex expresses argument-provoking feelings, it is likely to be the wife - by a ratio of almost six to one (85 percent vs 15 percent). When both sexes participate but one dominates, women are about twice as likely to dominate. Overall, women are more willing to initiate conflict, no willing to escalate conflict, better able to handle it when it occurs, and, when they have initiated it, are quicker to get over it.
These findings come from numerous sources. They are found among couples of high, medium, and low socio-economic status. They are found using a variety of methodologies: the couples at themselves acknowledge the gap, and, much more reliably, researchers who systematically observe couples verify the couple's own assessments.
Probably the most respected researcher in the field is John Gottman at the University of Washington. He records pulse rates, heart output, skin conductance, and other indicators of stress. Then he videotapes the couples to observe facial expressions and body language. He does not ask the couples to fight, since that would be artificial. Instead, he basically works with the couple and when a major air are of disagreement naturally even though this, he asks them to discuss it and attempts to resolve it. When a fight naturally occurs, the equipment is there to record it.
Gottman found that men are more intimidated by angry women than women are by angry men. Men are more stressed by marital arguments, while women are more comfortable with emotional confrontation and are better at it.
Even in the feminist movement, the medium is the message: feminists express anger even as the message is that women cannot express anger; men repress anger even as they are judged to be the sex that has no problem expressing it! We often hear we have a battle of the sexes when, in fact, we have a war in which only one side has shown up. (Men put their heads into the sand and hope the bullets will miss!)
Withdrawal is not the way men do battle with men. It is the way men do battle with women. Because the purpose of doing battle with men was to prepare men to protect women from conflict, not to be the source of conflict.
It is kind of funny when you realize that the titel of the first post I linked was "Social Justice is about everyone, isn’t it?". Yes, it is. One day this might include a more egalitarian view of relationships.