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“I like hugs, I like kisses but what I really like is help with the dishes” (Author unknown)
What makes a marriage or relationship successful? The above saying is a good starting place.
According to a survey of American adults by the PEW Research Centre in 2007, sharing household chores now comes third in importance on a list of nine needs associated with successful marriages and relationships.
The list of needs are as follows:
2. Happy sexual relationships
3. Sharing household chores
4. Adequate income
5. Good housing
6. Shared religious beliefs
7. Shared tastes and interests
9. Agreement on politics
It may come as a surprise to see sharing household chores above some of the needs on the list but 62% of the adults surveyed said that sharing household chores is very important to marital and relationship success. Only 7% felt it wasn’t that important. The results were similar for both married and unmarried couples.
Faithfulness is still the top need rated as very important by 93% of respondents, followed by 70% of respondents who consider a happy sex life is very important.
General opinion about sharing household chores has changed since the 1990’s when only 47% of adults surveyed said that sharing chores was important to a successful marriage or relationship. In the 17 years since the publication of the 2007 survey, no other need has risen higher in importance than sharing chores. This rise in importance is shared across all of the demographic landscape, among men and women, married and single people, old and young.
There are a few slight significant differences whereby black and Hispanic men and women are more inclined than white men and women to say shared household chores are important as well as married working mothers who are more inclined this way than married mothers who do not work outside the home.
Research conducted by University of Maryland (2010) found that changes in employment have an effect upon the distribution of household chores. They discovered that fathers were more involved with their children when both they, and their partners were in full time employment and were less involved when their partners worked fewer hours than them, this being the more traditional gender role.
Surprisingly, the research found that, although fathers tended to be less involved when they worked less, fathers who held the traditional gender role attitudes were more involved than those who held non traditional gender role attitudes. It also found that men from religious backgrounds or who held strong religious beliefs have a powerful commitment to family and are therefore more likely to help in the home.
The change in the economic climate and the experience of more shared responsibility has an impact the way household chores are divided between the sexes. Attitudes regarding the roles of men and women within the home have changed and become less traditional. Unemployment has led to many women becoming the main bread winner in a family and changing working practices mean that men can work from home or have more flexible working hours, thus allowing them more time to help with home and family responsibilities.
There has also been a 50% increase in young fathers caring for their children without a partner between 1996 to 2009, making gender roles more flexible.
New research from Springer Journal of Sex Roles (2017) has found that women of all ages still tend to do more household chores than their male partners, no matter how much they work or earn in a job outside the home. Lead researcher Rebecca Horne form the University of Alberta, Canada says,
“Women consistently perform more housework than men do,”.
Looking at 3 different life stages, the results showed that women and the partner with the lowest income tend to be the ones doing more household tasks when a couple is around 25 years old. As people get older, work hours and raising children (for men only) come into play among 32-year olds, reducing the amount of housework they do. Gender comes into play for couples in their 40’s, with women generally do the most housework.
Men lag behind women when it comes to doing household chores. Research from the University of Maryland found that fathers, on average, did 9.6 hours a week of household chores, 50% more than they did in 1965 and had increased their child care hours to 7 hours a week, more than triple the hours they did in 1965.
The study found that mothers, on average, spent 18.1 hours a week on household chores (down from 31.9 hours in 1965) and 14.1 hours a week caring for their children (up from 10.2 hours in 1965).
So it seems that sharing household chores can lead to a successful marriage or relationship, hopefully with women nagging less and men being nagged less!