September 29, 2012
Could Sharing Housework Hurt Your Marriage?
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Guys, if you think helping your wives around the house will help the two of you enjoy a long and happy marriage, you might think again after seeing the results of a new Norwegian study released Thursday.
"What we´ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn´t necessarily contribute to contentment," Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled 'Equality in the Home,' told Telegraph reporter Henry Samuel in a September 27 interview. "One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite."
Hansen said that their research showed that the more the husbands did around the house, the higher the divorce rate was amongst those couples. One of the possible reasons, he suggested to Samuel, was that having clearly defined roles could help avoid situations where one spouse feels like he or she is intruding on the other's area of responsibilities -- "not stepping on the other's toes," as the researcher put it. Likewise, sharing the workload could lead to feelings of resentment if one partner feels as though the other isn't putting forth equal effort.
The authors also suggested that having a "modern" outlook on things could be a factor.
"Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage," Hansen told the French news agency AFP. "In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially. They can manage much easier if they divorce."
University of Canterbury sociology professor Dr. Frank Furedi told Samuel that the study results seemed logical, as the sharing of household chores tends to take place amongst couples from middle class, professional backgrounds, where the divorce rate is already high and couples "are extremely sensitive to making sure everything is formal, laid out and contractual. That does make for a fairly fraught relationship."
"The more you organize your relationship, the more you work out diaries and schedules, the more it becomes a business relationship than an intimate, loving spontaneous one," he added, predicting that the study would have similar results if it took place in the UK instead of Norway.
"In a good relationship people simply don´t know who does what and don´t particularly care," Furedi concluded. "Unless marriage is a relationship above anything else, then whenever there are tensions or contradictions things come to a head. You have less capacity to forgive and absorb the bad stuff."