Are Couples Who Share Chores at Increased Risk for Divorce?

Illustration of man doing laundry

Almost every couple has to decide which spouse will wash the dishes, cook the meals, and take out the trash. Unless you are fortunate enough to have domestic help at your disposal, the drudgery of daily chores will fall on the shoulders of you and your partner. How you divide this burden could predict if your relationship will last, according to a recent study by researchers in Norway. Thomas Hansen, co-author of a study released in late September, surveyed married couples who had an equal division of household chores and found that they were more likely to divorce than couples who assigned the majority of chores to the female partner.

One might assume that the opposite would be true. In modern society, women often bear an equal share of the financial responsibility, so it would make sense that they would want an equal share of the domestic responsibility as well. This should lead to a balanced, harmonious relationship, or so conventional thinking goes. However, Hansen said he found that equal responsibility did not lead to relationship satisfaction.

Instead, Hansen found that when the husbands chipped in more at home, the likelihood of divorce increased. He believes that in these relationships, not clearly defining who is responsible for chores could make one spouse feel like his or her responsibilities are being taken over. A person could feel as if the spouse views his or her efforts as not good enough. This could lead to resentments that play out in other areas of the relationship.

Modern marriages in which both partners work can quickly become overly contractual. “Their (partners’) more formal, ‘contractual’-style attitude towards marriage can make for a fraught relationship,” Hansen said. Having rigid schedules, assignments, and duties that are measured out in minute detail make the marriage more like a business and less like the loving, intimate, evolving bond it should be. Hansen said that above all else, a marriage should be a relationship first. Then, when things get a little tense, there will be a solid foundation established from which to forgive, grow, and overcome the difficult stuff.

MacRae, Fiona. So much for equality! Couples are more likely to divorce if the husband does half the domestic chores. (n.d.): n. pag. Daily Mail. 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 1 Oct. 2012.

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  • regina

    October 12th, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Well, this much I can tell you- if my husband did not pitch in and help me with the chores, then I can promise you that I would not be a happy camper. That’s the way we have always done things, and it seems to work for us. feel bad for the women who this does not work out the best for, because I would just flip out if I thought that I had to do it all alone.

  • Megan

    October 12th, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    And how exactly did they assess that sharing chores was the reason for divorce?It could well be other factors that led to divorce.If anything,this sounds like it is trying to heap household chores onto women and can actually become an excuse for all the lazy husbands out there.

  • Phil

    October 13th, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    My wife will just say that this is a study conducted by a bunch of lazy men. This will not hold any credibility with her at all.

  • Evie

    October 13th, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    My partner is welcome to take over any of the household responsibilities that he would like to take on at any point in time; honest to goodness there will be no resentment that he is taking over something that is “mine”.

  • vic

    October 13th, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    its always a good idea for a couple to be a team and share responsibilities.isnt that what marriage is all about in the first place!this new theory sounds a little different from convention but we should not disregard its findings so quickly.we need to investigate a little more into this and only then come to a conclusion!

  • RHEA

    October 14th, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Come on now! Is this another excuse from the association of lazy husbands?! There is no way sharing duties and chores is gonna put the marriage at risk…Unless one person feels he enjoys immunity to any work and is being forced to do it…!

  • Layla

    October 15th, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    One of the things I have always loved the most about my husband is that he never has acted like working in the home is something that only I should be responsible for.
    he has always been willing to do his fair share of the chores without me even having to ask.
    Now granted there have been times when I have had to make a list, but so what? If he is actually pitching in and helping, I don’t care what I have to write down ;)

  • marlon cole

    October 15th, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    The women all want to act like we don’t do as much at home as they do, that they would be more satisfied if we did.

    That’s nothing but a lie.

    They aren’t made because you aren’t helping around the house, they are mad over something else and this is the one thing that is easy for them to point to and say that that right there is the problem.

    I know many women who are just fine doing all the housework because they say that if the man did it he wouldn’t do it right anyway. If there is a problem in the house then don’t be blaming it on the share of chores because I can almost guarantee that that ain’t the real issue at all.

  • Kelly

    October 15th, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    When I do the laundry everytime,it doesn’t make sense for the husband to do that once in a while and get the credit for it!I need to be commended for what I do and if I can do it 99 times then I can do it the 100th time as well.This would definitely make me mad but its not going to lead to divorce from how I see it.

  • Thomas

    October 15th, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    I’m not saying that you have to keep it set in stone, but it is kind of nice to have an idea of the things that your spouse is going to hold you responsible for in the home. If you know these things up front then that sure is an easier way to avoid a lot of arguments in the home.

  • Jade

    October 16th, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Okay I am willing to take one for the team and tell my husband that from now on, to preserve our marriage, instead of us sharing all of the housework 50/50, that for the strength of our marriage I am turning the majority of it over to him, that I am afraid that all of this sharing stuff is going to lead us straight to divorce court. HMMM. . . wonder how well that would go over?

  • pat

    October 19th, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    I would like to know how they made their study

    Like how many couples were involved in the study. If the sampling is insufficient (not enough couples involved) then the result is meaningless. Like rolling a dice only once and say that number X has 100% chances of coming out.

    It’s so easy to publish studies full of bias and done with a poor methodology : The biggest issue with any study is to avoid researchers interpreting the study’s results as to match their own beliefs.

    I would like also to know if that study was made only by men (risk of having a gender, educational bias).

    Personally from what I gather around me, from female friends mainly, it’s rather when the husband does not do his fair share that the risks of divorce increases.

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