Domestic bliss and household chores

Who does what around the house in your relationship? Most men and women agree that when both partners work full-time, they should share household chores equally. It may not guarantee domestic bliss, but having a good balance can help you to feel happier in your relationship.

Despite this, research shows that things aren’t quite that balanced and that women are still doing more than their fair share. Women, even when they work the same hours as their male partners, do nine hours more housework per week than their partners.

But, things are changing. In 1989, 32% of men and 26% of women thought that it was a man's job to earn the money and a woman’s job to look after the home and family. In 2006, only 17% of men and 15% of women felt that way [1].

Furthermore, research has shown that when men are more involved in housework and childcare, their partners are less likely to be depressed and more likely to be happier with their relationship.

But it can be difficult. Your attitude to what’s acceptable may be different from your partner's. Each of you will have been brought up with a different view of who should do what, and a different view of what it means to have a tidy house. One of you might feel a bit of mess makes a home feel lived in. One of you might feel they cannot relax until everything is in order.

Part of showing you care for someone is by looking after their practical and physical needs. For example, one of the ways you might show affection for your partner after a hard day's work is to cook them a nice meal – showing you care for them in a practical way. When we fall out about housework, sometimes the argument is really about not feeling cared for.

Often, you just have to try and agree about what you both feel OK with. Listen to each other, acknowledge your similarities and differences, and try to find a balance that works for both of you. Depending on your point of view, you may have to do a little bit of extra tidying, or you may have to get used to there being a little bit more mess in the house.

References

[1] Crompton, R. & Lyonette, C., 2008. Who does the housework? The division of labour within the house. In Park, A. etal., British Social Attitudes: The 24th Report 2007/2008. London: Sage

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