Throughout history men have dominated relationships. This can be traced back to Adam and Eve. Males have always had the final word in a relationship, and were the ones to go to when there was a decision to be made. They made the money and the wife stayed home and "did her womanly chores." But Change is not yielding and we must make way for a new style of relationship, one in which there is no dominant sex, where each is equal in the status of "head of the house." The foundation of the reason why women have played the submissive roll in relationships may date back before written history. Take cavemen for example, the women stayed at home and nurtured the children while cooking the food the men brought home. The men gathered food and protected the tribe or group from other tribes or predators that attacked. At that time the women felt weak and helpless to protect themselves, requiring them to call upon the men.
Some animals, too, share these traits. Lions are a good example. The males hunt for food and protect their pride while the females take care of the young. While these may be the roots of the dominant male role, other reasons are to blame for it's development.
Religion plays a big role in relationships also. In Christianity, it is believed that Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs to serve as his wife. The Bible also explains that "marriage patterns [should] portray the relationship between Christ and the Church." (http://www.cbmw.org/questions/04.html) In other words, Christians believe the husband is supposed to model the loving, sacrificial leadership of Christ, and the wife is to model the glad submission offered freely by the church. It is not an absolute surrender of her wills, rather a disposition to yield to her husband's guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Some specific examples of where this is explained is in Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Titus 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:4, 12; and Genesis 1-3. Another large religion that supports female submission is Muslim. Although it is more extreme in their society, Muslim women do not have half the rights of Christian women in relationships. While these are merely two of the hundreds of religions in the world, a large portion of them stress male domination in relationships.
The location and culture of a group of people can have a profound effect on the roles in a relationship. For example, the group may be secluded from modern society; they might be deep in a thick jungle, on a remote island, or they may just be afraid of outside contact, for fear of corruption, an example being the Amish. Another possibility is that the government prevents a change because the dominant male role proves beneficial to that country's or state's economy. But in all these examples, one way or another, none of the people would have access to outside cultures to learn of the idea of mutual or even female dominant relationships.
Technology and education have revolutionized relationships. Men no longer need to hunt for food, now you need only to drive five minutes in your new Cadillac to the local grocery store to gather all the food you will ever need. Women are becoming stronger, too, they have learned self-defense and no longer require the presence of a man to survive, although, it does help that our society is much safer than the primitive land we lived in years ago. We don't worry about being attacked by a Saber-Toothed Tiger anymore, the only thing we really do worry about being attacked by is the occasional Snaggle-Toothed Robber, and that's what we invented pepper spray, tazers, and other personal safety devices for. My point is that food is readily available, removing the need for hunting, microwaves were invented so men could cook for themselves, and strategies for self-defense were created to keep men in line and make the common housewife more independent.
The roles in relationships have unmistakably been changing, although I believe it is nowhere near done. We still have much technology to discover and introduce. Star Trek may be the future, we might be able to tell a computer what we want and have it create it. Or some unfortunate day we may find the technology to completely abolish natural childbirth and replace it with "test-tube babies." In our effort to make women completely self-sufficient, we may unintentionally abolish the only thing left that every culture requires to survive.