What are the most important qualities in a partner? Honesty? Common interests? What about someone to share the chores with?
A study from the Pew Research Group revealed that “sharing household chores” now ranks 3rd in a list of 9 items commonly associated with a happy marriage — ahead of adequate income, common interests, and shared religious beliefs.
This shift in marital satisfaction comes as gender roles continue to evolve. As more women enter the workplace and more fathers increase their hours of childcare, sharing household chores is more important for today’s couples than ever before — and couples that share the load are rewarded with happier marriages, greater partner satisfaction, and a better sex life.
But there’s more to a blissful marriage than picking up the vacuum once a week. As relationships tend to be, it’s complicated. Here are 3 things you need to know.
Fair Is Only Fair If She Says So
When it comes to housework, it’s perceived equality that matters. If the partners believe the split is fair, then there is no resentment and the two can go on with their happy, sexy marriage.
But since women still do on average 3.4 times more housework than men, it’s really the wife’s perception that counts. This, of course, is an interesting nuance because regardless of the actual split — 60/40, 50/50, 70/30 — if Mrs. Smith feels it’s unfair, then it is.
This also means that ‘fair’ can change. Say the Smiths have been running happily at a 60/40 split. Until one day Mrs. Smith heads over to the Thompsons and notices Husband of the Year hopeful Mr. Thompson is shouldering 50% of the housework. Suddenly, Mrs. Smith is no longer content with her 60% workload.
So in other words, when it comes to ‘fair’, the wife is always right — proof that while marriage is ever-evolving, some things never change.
More Bad News For Men: Dad Chores Don’t Count
Like any loving couple, my wife and I occasionally argue over the division of housework. And like any loving husband, I inevitably lose this argument, despite presenting a logical and factual case.
Whenever we’re discussing workloads or whenever she gives me the ol’ I Can’t Do Everything Around Here, my go-to argument is that my chores don’t count.
It doesn’t matter that I freeze my ass off at 5AM clearing 2 feet of snow from the driveway. Or that I’m out there in grueling heat and humidity pushing the lawn mower around the yard like some schmuck. It doesn’t matter that whenever some appliance breaks or a drain gets clogged or the sump pump shits out I’m the one who has to helplessly troubleshoot it before giving up and calling my dad. Like doesn’t any of that count? Dear reader, it does not. Why?
Because mowing the grass isn’t shitty enough to qualify as housework. When I mow, I’m away from the kids. I take off my shirt and unleash the Dad Bod and bang out to my high school hip hop playlist.
Scrubbing the grease from a frying pan, on the other hand, puts you up close and personal with filth. It’s gritty. You gotta get right up in there, clench your teeth, and scrub. You’re hunched over the sink, usually to the sound of tantruming children
The benefits of a shared workload apply only to the grimy, thankless chores that have traditionally been done by women, like laundry, cleaning bathrooms, and surprisingly most important…dishes.
Sharing Dishes: The Secret To Marital Bliss?
A recent study revealed that for women, sharing dishes is more important than any other chore. Women stuck with the full load are less satisfied in almost all areas of their relationship than those who split dishes with their partner. Not only was sharing dishes the biggest source of satisfaction in the relationship, but not sharing was the biggest source of discontent. Why is sharing dishes so important?
You do a lot of them. Many chores are weekly. A few are daily. But dishes might be the only chore you do multiple times per day.
They often follow other tasks, like cooking. You’ve cooked, you’ve eaten, you’ve been in the kitchen for 2 hours, now it’s time for dishes.
They are gross. You’re handling your family’s half-eaten food.
And thankless. A clean house looks nice and can even get compliments. But no one says oh wow that’s a clean dish.
But they do promote teamwork. We’ve been pretty hard on dishes so far, so let’s say something nice about them. When done together, dishes can promote teamwork, which can make partners feel more connected.
Sharing dishes sparks other components of a happy marriage. We discussed earlier that sharing household chores ranked 3rd in a list of 9 items important to a happy marriage. The 2 items that ranked higher? 1) Faithfulness and 2) A good sex life.
Now, since sharing dishes is shown to increase intimacy — both in frequency and quality — and one of the leading causes of infidelity is unmet sexual needs, then not only is sharing dishes important as an integral part of #3 sharing household chores, but it also supercharges the 2 items that rank higher.
So there you have it. You want an intimate and faithful relationship? Grab a dish towel.