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Sharing Chores by Married Couples – Important to Avoiding Divorce?

A majority of married adults believe sharing responsibility for household chores is important.  However, according to a report published by the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape, couples with children perceive who actually does more of the chores differently.

The Importance of Sharing Chores

That report found that 56% of married adults describe sharing household chores as “very important” to a successful marriage.  The report found sharing chores more important to a successful marriage than having children (43%) and adequate income (42%).  Other areas were found to be more important than chore sharing in the report, including having shared interests (64%) and having a satisfying sexual relationship (61%).

The importance of sharing household chores is considered very important among married men (63%) more than married women (58%).  It also varies with age.  Among married adults ages 18 to 29, 67% think it is very important, compared with 57% of those ages 50 to 64 and 56% aged 65 and older.

Division of Labor

A prior survey by Pew Research Center conducted in 2015 found that approximately half of married couples that have a child under age 18 say chores are equally divided.  However, 41% of the couples said the mother does more of the chores.  Only 8% of those surveyed said the father does more of the household chores.  The survey went on to find when couples both work full time, the chores are divided more evenly.  In those households, 59% of the adults said the household chores were divided evenly.  It was reported that 31% said the mother does more of the work and 9% said the father does more of the household chores.

Gender also affects how the couples perceive the way chores are divided.  Fathers are more likely to think chores are divided evenly than are mothers (56% to 46%).  Among mothers, 50% say they perform more of the household chores, while only 12% of fathers say they do more chores.  Approximately 32% of fathers said their partner does more household chores, while only 4% of mothers say the father does more.

The study found even when both parents work full time, fathers, on average, work more hours than mothers do.  The research study suggests this may influence the distribution of household chores.

Perception

Personal earnings, often linked to the amount of hours worked, also impacts how parents perceive the division of household chores.  Parents that earn the same amount say the household chores are divided equally 65% of the time.  Among those parents that earn less than their partner, 41% say they do more chores than their partner.  6% say their partner does more.  Of those that earn more than their partner, 29% say their partner does more and 20% say they do more of the household chores.

What Can Couples Do?

Those statistics are interesting, but what can a couple do to reduce resentment and tension created by household chores?  Steps can be taken to avoid conflicts.

Sit down and discuss what chores each spouse hates doing the most.  One parent may hate doing a chore that the other does not mind doing.  If both spouses hate the same chores, it is important to reach a compromise.  Some hated tasks can be done together.  If it is possible, paying someone else to do that particular chore can help reduce tension, and may therefore be worth the cost.

Couples should establish which chores are most important. They should also decide how important home cooked meals are versus simple, quick meals or eating out.  Other examples of areas that should be addressed include how important the dishes, the bathroom, making the bed, and mowing the lawn.

Sharing Chores and Busy Schedules

Parents need to be aware of the other’s calendars.  “Sharing chores” doesn’t necessarily mean “dividing chores equally.”  Is the upcoming week particularly difficult at work?  Are there social commitments?  Are there special occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays, and planned nights out with friends?  One approach is to divide tasks based on who has time available.  After the chores are divided, it is essential the parties do not nag each other about getting their agreed upon chores done.  If tasks are not being done as agreed, another discussion may be appropriate.

Ground Rules for Sharing Chores

Assuming the goal of both parties is to accomplish the necessary chores, couples should agree task must be done.  How the task is done, however, is a different matter entirely.  Where one party believes a certain chore can only be completed in one certain way, that party should take on that task.  Not everyone has the same standards of cleanliness.

Remember that some people do better at certain times of the day.  Each spouse should be given a certain amount of freedom within which to complete their tasks.  Adjust responsibility for chores accordingly.  Discuss expectations and timing.

After having these discussions, couples often find they view the division of household chores differently.  Some people are not bothered by clutter and disarray.  Others can’t sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink.  Remember, the idea is that you do not want to end your marriage over disputes about household chores.  Hiring outside help can solve some of these problems.  Some chores may not need to be done.

New couples should consider what house and yard household chores really need to be done.  Cutting back can save time and money.  Organizing your house can also make things run more smoothly.  Does every chore really need to be done every week?  As couples start their relationship, or seek to improve it, redefining necessary chores and roles of the party keeps the lines of communication open.

If You are Considering Marriage

Drafting a prenuptial agreement provides couples with an excellent opportunity to discuss roles and expectations.  The lawyers at Fait & DiLima focus their practice on family law. Contact our office to discuss your situation.

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