Who knew that such an everyday task like doing the dishes could potentially make or break a marriage?
University of Illinois researchers looked at 220 heterosexual couples, and discovered that an uneven division of household chores negatively affected a wife’s satisfaction with her marriage, particularly if she felt the roles should be more equal.
“If a woman believes that household chores should be divided equally, what happens if they adopt a traditional approach to the matter? The most satisfied couples have similar expectations and follow through on them,” study co-author Brian Ogolsky, a professor of human development and family studies, said in a university news release.
The study was recently published online in the journal Sex Roles.
“These results were interesting because usually marital satisfaction is studied in only one spouse. Here we were able to see what happens when there’s a discrepancy in spouses’ attitudes on this issue,” Ogolsky said.
In fact, researchers found significant differences in men’s happiness regarding the balance of household chores.
“For husbands, sharing household tasks isn’t as directly related to their satisfaction. Either they don’t perceive that there is a discrepancy or they have bought into the idea that the second shift belongs to women,” he added.
Ogolsky warned that it was important to determine how to divide household tasks during the first two years of marriage, because patterns established during that time are likely to last for a long time. If there’s not a clear understanding at the outset, it could lead to an unhappy marriage over the long-term, he suggested.
“Newlyweds need to thoughtfully plan how they can make their expectations about sharing chores work out in real life, especially if the new spouses strongly value gender equality in household labor. This issue will only matter more after children start arriving,” Ogolsky said.