There are only a small number of people in this world who enjoy cleaning. Sure, it can be a great way to relieve some stress for some, but for the most part, we all do chores because we have to, at some point, just get them done. Which is why it's particularly important for couples to sit down and figure out how they're divvied up. And you probably don't want to sleep on that conversation, since a new study found that couples who share this household chore have stronger relationships. So it might be worth rolling up your sleeves and taking it on now and again.
As reported by The Atlantic, the forthcoming study from the Council of Contemporary Families (CCF) examined a bunch of different household tasks, including shopping, laundry, and other housecleaning duties, and found that women in heterosexual relationships report being more happy about sharing dishwashing duties than any other chore.
Women who reported doing the most of the dishwashing at home reported more conflict, less relationship satisfaction, and worse sex than women whose partners did the dishes now and again, according to the study. So ladies, if your husband refuses to do the dishes, you might want to remind him that there are some real consequences involved.
Chores are such a pain in the butt, especially because they are steeped in gender roles. Dan Carlson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Utah, and the lead author of the study, told The Atlantic women are usually expected to do the most "unpopular" household chores, usually cleaning up after someone else. Dishes, bathrooms, laundry tend to be "mom jobs."
Men get the chores that don't involve cleaning up someone else's mess, such as mowing the law, taking out the trash, or making small repairs. CCF found in its study that women who are stuck doing these traditional chores "see themselves as relegated to the tasks that people don’t find desirable." Feeling like someone's maid — without pay, mind you — will make you resentful eventually, despite even your best efforts.
Carlson explained, according to The Atlantic, "Doing dishes is gross. There is old, moldy food sitting in the sink. If you have kids, there is curdled milk in sippy cups that smells disgusting." Unlike other chores, such as painting the fence out front or scrubbing a floor sparkly clean, doing the dishes doesn't necessarily get you any compliments, adding insult to injury. It's great when there are clean ones, but that's only because you scrubbed them or loaded and unloaded them from a machine. It's drudgery.
Of course, there are people who love to do the dishes and don't mind it. Obviously, those people won't eventually resent their partner for not doing it and report more marital conflict. If you're one of those people, that's great. But research does show that chores are something couples have to work out if they want a sustainable peace.
Another study out this month from the Harvard Business School found that couples who bicker about chores consistently have higher rates of divorce, which makes total sense. If you can't get on each other's team, communicate, and help out the relationship is going to suffer. Another study from 2017 done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that couples who budget $100 to $200 a month on outsourcing some household labor — whether it's a laundry service or a housecleaner to come in and give things a once over — report happier relationships.
That's not always possible for people in lower-income households, which means that "happy" relationships can be a privilege in some way. But couples who divvy work up to make chores as painless as possible fare better in the long run. If kids are involved, modeling good communication skills and showing them that women can take out the trash and men can scrub the pasta pot can't hurt.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.