Can Sharing Chores Really Lead to Divorce?

Work-Life Balance on 10.04.12
Contributing Writer bio

Photo: indy138 / Creative Commons

In our house, I do most of the cooking and my husband does most of the dishes. This wasn't an arrangement we agreed on specifically, but it sort of fell into place that way. After all, I love menu planning and enjoy prepping food alone in the kitchen while he entertains the kids, who are thrilled to see him after a day at work. Once the kids are in bed, he cleans up, sometimes doing it at an agonizingly slow pace that bewilders me, yet he says he likes having that time to think, be alone, and even relax.

So, when I read about a new study from Norway showing that sharing chores can lead to divorce, I was intrigued. The Telegraph reports that the study's figures show that "the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate." The basis for this conclusion comes from the fact that couples who focus on divvying up household chores in perfect fairness tend to have a 'contractual' approach to marriage. It is more like a business partnership than a loving, flexible relationship. By splitting tasks evenly, there's more likelihood for resentment and frustration to arise when one person perceives the other to be lagging behind.

The study was performed on people from middle-class professional backgrounds, where divorce rates are typically high. Dr Frank Furedi, a professor of sociology from the University of Canterbury said in the Telegraph that these people are "extremely sensitive to making sure everything is formal, laid out, and contractual... That tends to encourage a conflict of interest rather than finding harmonious resolutions."

It makes me think of the advice that my mother gave me when I first got married. She said that a successful marriage requires each person to give more than 50% to the relationship at all times; on days when my husband can only give 30%, I've got to find the remaining 70% within myself, and vice versa. In the end, it all evens out. Despite the study's findings, we'll keep doing things the way we are because it's working out just fine. I appreciate the help and he loves the food.

Top Articles on Marriage
5 Secrets to a Happy Marriage I've Learned from Working with My Spouse 
27 Years of Marriage and Lots of "Courageous Conversations"
The Secret to a Happy Marriage