Newly Weds Sharing Household Chores More Likely to Stay the Happiest

First Posted: May 08, 2014 06:27 AM EDT

Equal division of household chores is the key to marital bliss for newlyweds, a new study reveals.

Most often the newlyweds find themselves in a chaos when it comes to managing the daily household tasks.  The first few months have their own ups and down and disagreements and tiffs are normal. But if the couple wants to preserve the newlywed bliss, they need to solve the main conflict that crops up regarding household chores and responsibilities.

In a new finding, researchers at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences claim that the chances for bliss are highest only when the husband and wife equally divide the labor.  But it will be challenging to preserve the marital bliss if one of the partners fails to take up the work load.

"Newlyweds need to thoughtfully plan how they can make their expectations about sharing chores work out in real life, especially if the new spouses strongly value gender equality in household labor. This issue will only matter more after children start arriving," said Brian G. Ogolsky, a U of I professor of human development and family studies.

He continues to explain that the first two years of marriage are extremely crucial and it is equally important to negotiate the household responsibility in the first two years of marriage because once this is established it continues to be the same and if the tasks are not equally divided it leads to conflict and reduced happiness in the marriage in the years to come. 

In this study, researchers examined the beliefs, behaviors and marital quality of 220 heterosexual newlywed couples.  They saw that dividing household tasks did affect the marital satisfaction of wives but didn't affect the husbands'. 

If wives believed in sharing equal housework, they were significantly happier if their partners acknowledged the same beliefs. If the tasks were divided in traditional ways, the  marital satisfaction was not affected much.

"These results were interesting because usually marital satisfaction is studied in only one spouse. Here we were able to see what happens when there's a discrepancy in spouses' attitudes on this issue. If a woman believes that household chores should be divided equally, what happens if they adopt a traditional approach to the matter? The most satisfied couples have similar expectations and follow through on them," he said. "For husbands, sharing household tasks isn't as directly related to their satisfaction. Either they don't perceive that there is a discrepancy or they have bought into the idea that the second shift belongs to women."

The researchers makes it clear that it is mandatory to enter a marriage with a clear understanding of what our partners thinks on sharing household chores because this understanding prevents couples from becoming disillusioned as their journey continues.

The finding is available pre-publication online in Sex Roles. 

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