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Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Study - Fathers Who Clean and Declutter Have Happier Marriages

I love this article! It resonates with my belief that unselfishness is the key to a happy and mutually encouraging marriage. John Stevens wrote the following article about the fascinating results of a study about husbands and housework.

"Sorting possessions, organizing closets, and packing objects into boxes can be hard work. But husbands and fathers who do these chores can now regard themselves as investing in their own future happiness, according to a study released Thursday by the London School of Economics (LSE).

The LSE study shows a clear connection between marital happiness and the amount of housework done by fathers. Fathers who clean house, shop, and are actively involved in the care of their children are much less likely to end up divorced. Fathers who shirked these chores and who also had wives who worked outside the home doubled their risk of divorce, making them the demographic that was most likely to get divorced.  

The researchers who gathered the data did not ask fathers how much housework they were doing. Instead, they asked mothers how much housework their husbands did. They began the research process in 1970, talking to wives who had just given birth to their first child, and followed up with the families periodically over the course of the next 16 years.

About 20 percent of the couples in the study divorced by the time their first child was 16. About half the fathers were doing little or no housework, so little that they almost seemed to be campaigning for a divorce. About one quarter of the husbands did three or four chores per week, according to their wives. Those were the husbands who hit the marital jackpot, so to speak.   

The connection between men doing chores and marital happiness was so strong that researchers said it canceled out the destabilizing effect on marriage of mothers returning to the workplace. Researchers also noted that the improvement in marital happiness when husbands did chores occurred whether or not wives worked outside the home.

Scholars analyzing the study’s results were quick to point out that the important factor in keeping marriages happy was that the amount of work to be done is shared equally. It did not matter who did what tasks, as long as there was no imbalance in the arrangement, with one partner (the wife) doing far more than the other. Traditional marriages in which the husband works outside the home and the wife stays home and does most of the housework and childcare can be just as happy as marriages in which both spouses work -- but only if each spouse does a fair share of the tasks that need to be done. 

The study, which was led by senior LSE lecturer Wendy Sigle-Rushton, was done on behalf of Britain’s Gender Equality Network, which is part of the Department of Business’ Economic and Social Research Council. The Gender Equality Network was established to study the ways in which changing gender relations might be affecting families."

More on Clutter and Relationships:

Is Decluttering/Organizing with Your Spouse Making You Angry?

Is Clutter Putting a Strain on Your Relationships?

Spring Cleaning Relationships