Study: How Household Chores Cause Relationship Stress
For women, gender inequality makes housework worse.
Even the happiest of couples are bound to occasionally argue over whose turn it is to do the dishes. But for some women, the topic of housework might be a little more unsettling. A recent study from Sweden's Umea University revealed that, for some, the issue actually causes psychological distress.
Researchers studied 723 subjects—men and women—and asked them about their relationship issues. At age 21, they found that both men and women had approximately the same level of psychological distress. By age 42, men's stress levels stayed the same, but women reported higher levels of distress. The key contributor? An uneven distribution of chores.
But of course, the issue runs a bit deeper than doing the laundry. The women who tackled most of the housework only experienced "distress" if they also described their relationship as "not gender-equal." The women who felt they were in an equal relationship didn't seem bothered by the fact that they did more housework than their partners.
"The results of this study indicate that it is not only a matter of whether the responsibility for domestic work is equal or not, but also the relational context in which the responsibilities are divided within the couple relationship," the authors wrote.
How did men fare in the study? Researchers found that one of the biggest causes of psychological distress for guys was earning less than their partners.
Psychologist Jill Weber tells WebMD that the findings are unsurprising:
"In general, men who earn less than their wives or who are out of work don't feel respected, and respect is a hot-button issue for men," Weber says.
As for the ladies, Weber says it's not really about the chores.
"It's the feeling that the woman is not getting support from her partner. Inequality often translates as a lack of emotional support."
So basically, a woman isn't as bothered by doing most of the scrubbing, vacuuming, dusting, etc.—if she has an emotionally supportive man by her side.
But I'm guessing it doesn't hurt if he can scrub a toilet, too.
Photo: John Lund/Marc Romanelli/Getty Images
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Wow...I sure am glad I am not the wife of any of you 3!
While i agree that a woman that does not work outside the home should be primarily responsible for the cooking and cleaning, that is such a rare dynamic anymore.
I am 35 years old, have a masters degree, work full time, earn as much, if not more than my husband (luckily we both earn very good salaries), and am 8 1/2 months pregnant and yet I am primarily responsible for household chores, cooking, and childcare. I have finally resorted to getting a cleaning service (for the heavy duty stuff like scrubbing toilets, floors, etc), but the daily managing of a household is an immense responsibility that I think men have no grasp of. Alot of a woman's work is 'invisible' which makes men even more clueless. For example, my husband can open the refrigerator door a thousand times and not notice we are out of milk. He can put the last toilet paper roll on and not think to stop and buy some more. Yet, I am constantly running a tally in my mind of what we need, what we are out of, etc. I am the one that remembers family birthdays (his side too) and events, I buy the cards and gifts (otherwise we would be on the way to the wedding and stopping to buy a card and gift card if he was left to do it), I keep the calendar and know what obligations we have. I manage all the money and pay all the bills. I manage to get the kids doctor/dentist/school appointments made and take them to all of those (and keep up with my own health and check ups). My husband doesn't even manage to get himself to the doctor/dentist every year, let alone manage the medical history and health of children. When we entertain, I do the shopping and cleaning and remember which of our guests has a food allergy, or is vegetarian or likes red wine, etc., so that I have something to offer everyone. I remember when his mother has a doctor appointment to call and see how she is. He is very proud of himself because he does his own laundry, but I think he fails to see that not only do I do my own, but I also do two children's laundry, and the communal laundry (sheets, towels, etc.)
All of these things women do, that men have NO idea of. Women are naturally better multi-taskers and can juggle many responsibilities at once. On a relaxing day off for me, I may be sitting on the couch catching up on my shows, but I also have dinner in the crock pot, loads of laundry in the washer/dryer, my laptop with me paying bills/balancing checkbook, and will have bathed my kid. On my husband's relaxing days, he sits in front of the tv and does NOTHING else. Very frustrating.
I will concede that he mows the lawn and uses the snow blower in winter. But, those tasks are done at most once or twice a week during those seasons. he refuses to weed, so we pay someone for that.
I am not unhappy though, and I am not bitter. It is just the way it is. I feel I am better at managing the business of a household than he is, so I do it. If I didn't do it, things wouldn't get done, we'd live in a pig sty, would be late on our bills, would have rotten teeth from never getting to the dentist, etc.
One last thing, and I will end this painfully long post. For you men that think your 8 hours at work is more intense or harder work than your wife staying home, I have a little insight on that. Though i work full time, i did take 6 months off after my son was born, and I will tell you, I couldn't wait to get back to work so I could take a break and have an easier day!
.........wow some people. So you can work, clean the house, take care of the kids needs, help with homework, cook dinner, clean up after dinner, bathe kids, do the laundry and then take care of the biggest kid of all, the "man", or husband after he sat on his butt after work cause he had a long day.....And there is just nothin to it. A woman should be able to do that right, I mean she is a woman.......
I am glad my husband knows I work my **** off for this family.Some of you just suck...
To the guy who says women don't have the same pressures and therefore should still have to do the housework anyway:
I am an engineer and an executive at my company. I earn twice what my husband does and am responsible for complex big-budget projects and bringing in enough work to keep my staff employed and my company profitable. Part of my job involves industry group involvement and travel out of town. At least 2 days a week, I don't see my child after I drop her off at school because of the industry organization committments. My husband is responsible for himself. Luckily, I have a great husband who is not a pig like some of those posting on this article. Give me an effing break about women not having the same pressure - pure BS.
Here is what's really at the heart of this issue. If a man provides financially for his wife then she should absolutely do the cleaning and cooking otherwise she is just dead weight. If the woman works and carries herself in the relationship and enjoys being independent then the couple should share in the chores as equally as possible. The problem today is that too many women want to be supported and don’t want to cook or clean etc... This essentially renders them as dead weight to their partners and causes major cold feet...
love: friendship, dating, sex & marriage
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