Who does the vacuuming in your home? How about cleaning the bathroom? And whose job is to unload the dishwasher? When it comes to household chores there's a lot riding on the division of labour. According to one survey, 'sharing household chores' is the third most important factor in a successful marriage and disagreeing about housework was one of the top three reasons for the dissolution of marriage in a survey of recently divorced people.
The 50/50 split
A lot's changed since the 1950s when housework was seen as the woman's job, but research suggests we haven't yet reached a 50/50 split. According to one study, although men think there's an equal split, women still do the lion's share of the housework. The Office for National Statistics reports that, on average, men do 16 hours' housework each week compared to 26 hours for the average woman, whereas studies into same-sex couples show a more even split of household chores.
Whatever works for you
Many people feel that the 50/50 split isn't the best solution for everyone. Couples therapist Brandon Santan says that trying to obtain a 50/50 split "can really be a stumbling block for couples," as it can lead to "highly toxic elements of resentment and negativity because it's too competitive." This view is echoed by Jenny Anderson, co-author of It's Not You, It's The Dishes, who believes "50/50 splits often results in constant renegotiation and endless bickering."
Anderson recommends a different approach based on a bestseller from 1776 that argued that the secret to a nation's wealth wasn't money but labour specialisation. In the context of cleaning, this means dividing up household chores based on personal preferences. So, one half might focus on the laundry and dishwasher while the other half does the vacuuming and dusting. After all, when you're doing what you enjoy or are good at you'll do it quicker than someone not interested in the task. As a result, it'll free up more time for you to spend quality time with your other half...and your home will be clean. Win-win.
Share the work, share the benefits
Talking of the benefits, research shows that couples that share household chores are generally happier and more satisfied than those who don't. And there's more. Another study found that the more housework a couple does, the more likely they are to get active in the bedroom!