Faithfulness, financial stability and sex (or lack thereof) can make or break a marriage. But according to a study described in this piece from The Atlantic, couples without a clear-cut system for delegating chores are setting themselves up for failure. Yep, household tasks like cooking and cleaning are the third-most indicator of marital success.
From 2001 to 2004, UCLA researchers observed the lives of 32 dual-income middle-class families from Los Angeles. Conflict arose more often among couples with
ambiguously defined clear as mud expectations of each other. On the contrary, partners with clearly defined domestic roles were more likely to feel appreciated and respected for their contributions to the household. This conversation from one of the couples interviewed in the study sums it up nicely:
Travis: I mean, she’s no—she’s not a saint in terms of keeping the place clean and, uh, fixing stuff or—she doesn’t fix anything.
Alice: No, but I cook meals. I just can’t do it all. I don’t. But I made you dinner tonight.
Travis: That’s good.
Alice: There you go. I’m no saint, but I just can’t do everything. I can’t buy all the groceries, cook the dinner—
Travis: I know, but just for the—don’t you think that there’s—you know that little board we have on the refrigerator?
Alice: Mm hmm.
Travis: Why don’t you use that and, like, say, like, um, write me notes?
Alice: [I don’t want to.
Travis: [Number one, dishwasher. Number two, rain gutter.
Alice: To be honest with you, I don’t want to have to tell you to do stuff. I want you to figure out that the—that the dishwasher needs to be—that you need to figure it out that the dishwasher needs to be—
Travis: I did. Did you ask me to fix the dishwasher, or did I?
Alice: No, you ordered a part, and then six months went by and we don’t know what happened to it. I don’t want to be, like, micro-managing you. Anyway, that’s a whole other story.
Just reading that makes my right eye twitch. The resentment and frustration are palpable.
Although it’s taken years and tears (mine) to get here, the Mister and I are at a mostly happy place of expectations regarding household management. In a nutshell, I handle any and all things stemming from the needs of The Baby Kittens. The Mister, on the other hand, deals in the dirtier matters of taking out the trash, unclogging toilets, yard work and the like. This balance of tasks has worked out just fine, but now the girls are approaching the pre-teen years.
They have crowned themselves the Queens of All Inexperienced Know-It-Alls, and have proclaimed that their Dad and I are the biggest @$$holes in the world. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you get the point. Getting the muck out of the garbage disposal isn’t looking too bad these days. I may need to sit down with the Mister and renegotiate our terms. Happy wife, happy life, yes?
How are chores decided in your household? Read more about the study here.