Housework for Couples




What do couples fight about?

Free time, money, sex, extended family and household chores.
Lack of equality, teamwork and fairness when it comes to household responsibilities is one of the top reasons marriages end in divorce.

Quite often when one partner feels that they take on more responsibility in the household, it can alter their view of the other person and lead to resentment and a less satisfying relationship. When one partner doesn't t do the agreed upon share of the housework, the other person in the relationship feels unsupported and disrespected.

To some Modern Parents, it seems like common sense, so “DUH!” It hurts... but sharing housework among members of a relationship or even the whole family, is a relatively new thing.

Traditionally, women have been responsible for housework and men the breadwinners. 
When women first entered the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s, says demographer Frances Goldscheider, that put a lot of stress on the family. Women were still expected to do the lion's share of the work of running a household, a phenomenon Goldscheider and other researchers call "the second shift."
Women had dipped their toes into the male-dominated world of work, but no one was talking about men taking on a greater share of the traditionally feminine work of keeping a house and taking care of children. Goldscheider has authored a roundup of the latest research that shows how changing attitudes about masculinity and greater involvement in housekeeping and childcare among men actually helps strengthen marriages. Men doing more chores can help protect against divorce. The more time men spend with their children, the more satisfied both partners say they are with the relationship.

Today you will find that most mothers have full-time jobs, and while women are rapidly increasing in participation in the work force, the division of household of chores and responsibilities is yet to have a fair matching change. Gender pay gaps still exist, women’s earnings have been gradually approaching those of men. While things have also been changing in the domestic sphere, with men doing an increasing share of housework and childcare, surveys still show that women do the lion’s share of housework- even in households where both partners have full-time paid jobs.

There have been a few theories as to why most women do more household chores than men.

One theory is that men and women have systematically different preferences over housework because of internalized gender norms. 
Another theory, is that women like housework more (or complain less) than men do.
A more recent theory, is that women have a higher standard of cleanliness than men. *face palm* Instead of assuming that women want cleaner homes, let’s look at the fact that women face higher expectations and judgments about household cleanliness than their male partners have to deal with.

Let me ask you this... When was the last time you seen a commercial or advertisement geared towards men for cleaning products? Or a commercial that features a dad setting the table, cooking dinner, washing the dishes, vacuuming or grocery shopping? Making the kid’s lunches.....right?!

One of the arguments often heard is the belief that women are “biologically made to do housework.” Studies show women take on more of the childbearing work- in fact, woman spend twice as much time on childcare each week than dads do- because they are “biologically inclined to be caregivers.” And while it’s true that the female body is equipped to carry a baby, breast-feed, and that these experience create a lasting bond... There is also solid evidence that dad’s who are involved in the earliest stages of a babies life by changing diapers, holding, feeding, snuggling, that also creates a bond that will get them more involved with their children later on. However, there is no biological determinant for housework.

No gender is physically predisposed to want to vacuum, wash the dishes or clean toilets.

New data from Statistics Canada, found that despite the fact that Canadian men are doing more chores at home than they did in the past, Canadian women are spending an average of 50 per cent more time doing unpaid work than men, showing that the gender imbalance at home is present. Based on a study from Indiana University, chore roles align with traditional thinking on masculinity and femininity ― even among couples where a woman is the primary or sole breadwinner and even in same-sex couples.  Among both straight and same-sex couples, typically “female” chores like cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping were assigned to the partner perceived as most “feminine.” 

British sociologist, Ann Oakley, conducted a study and found it to be true, most men tend to overestimate the amount of housework they do. Many men can admit that they grew up and still believe that housework is the woman’s job. When a man helps out with chores he feels he should be applauded, but instead when his partner points out what he didn’t do, or demands he do more, the lack of praise is counterproductive and will cause a man to be defensive and actually do less.

Although no exact formula for marital bliss exists, a University of Missouri researcher has found that husbands and wives are happier when they share household and child-rearing responsibilities. Sharing responsibilities doesn't necessarily mean couples divide chores equally, but rather on fairness. “Sharing can mean something different to every couple," Galovan said. "It could be taking turns changing diapers or one parent watching the children while the other prepares dinner. Doing things together and having mutual, agreed-upon divisions of labor benefitted both spouses."

“The degree to which housework is shared is now one of the two most important predictors of a woman’s marital satisfaction. And husbands benefit too, since studies show that women feel more sexually attracted to partners who pitch in."

Source: Stephanie Coontz. "The M.R.S. and the Ph.D." 2/11/2012.”

The solution?

The simple truth is that men have to do more housework.

There, someone said it.

Men roll eyes at their responsibility of chores because let’s face it- nobody wants to walk out in the rain/through snow to take out slimy garbage bags and poopy diaper pails. It should be noted that men usually don’t do this on purpose, they honestly don’t realize how much women care about keeping a home in order. Maybe knowing the fact that women find a man’s willingness to do housework extremely erotic, will motivate them a little more? When the husband does his share to maintain the home, both he and his wife report a more satisfying sex life than in marriages where the wife believes her husband is not doing his share. A functional division of family housework not only paves the way for some steamy hot sex, but it is also associated with less depression, less marital conflicts and higher relationship satisfaction.

  • Have a conversation about housework and split up chores so it feels fair to both partners.
  • Create a list to determine who should do what. Use this list talk about how things are currently handled and how you would like them to be handled. Some items to include: car care, child care, finances, food, house cleaning, and house projects.

This list isn’t meant to be a straight 50/50 split between household chores. It’s not about the actual amount of work a man does, but more about a woman’s subjective view of whether it’s enough. The goal is to do housework, without being nagged by their partner. For some relationships, maybe a 50/50 split is needed. For some relationships, it just means the man doing chores she hates! Maybe for some couples, it’s budgeting in a cleaning service. The best way to figure out what will work for your family, is check off who does what NOW. Then you both will have a realistic list to work from and take what isn’t working, and delegate an IDEAL list of who should do what, so it does work.

This list is not set in stone. Remember to be flexible in what duties each other take on. For example: When you partner comes home and you can see he or she is exhausted, volunteer to wash the dishes even though its his turn out of respect.

Make a list, make a plan, and then re-evaluate how things are doing in a few months, making changes if needed.

If you need help finding more ways on how to make housework, WORK for your family.. Book a call with Echo! :)