Sharing Chores May Contribute to Relationship Happiness

Apr 16, 2018

Who does the dishes in your household? The answer to that question may reveal quite a lot about your relationships and level of happiness. 

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe chats with Dan Carlson, assistant professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. A report he co-authored for the Council on Contemporary Families was recently featured in The Atlantic

Ann Oberhauser, professor of sociology and director of women's and gender studies at Iowa State University, and Barbara Dunn Swanson, human sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension, also join the conversation.

The division of labor in domestic chores has changed over the past 20 years.

"In the early 90s, for these routine indoor tasks, about 85% of couples had women doing the majority of these tasks," Carlson says. "Less than 15% were sharing."

Now, the percentage of couples sharing tasks has doubled. Dishes, in particular, became a source of strife as sharing household duties became more common. There are a few reasons for this: the ick factor is one, but much of it has to do with fairness.

"Couples do better when they think both partners are getting a fair shake," Carlson says.

Dunn Swanson suggests the problem may start before adulthood.

"Kids are going to model what we as parents do," Dunn Swanson says. "If we want adults to grow up and share that labor, it has to start somewhere."