Keeping up with household chores

With all the media focus on the race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, I missed an important story a couple of weeks ago.

But while I could blame the presidential play-by-play for shoving it to the back-burner, there is always the possibility that I just wasn’t paying close enough attention (a common complaint among the women in my life). Either way, I am a bit disappointed in myself. I’m supposed to know things before other people. After all, I make my living in a newsroom.

If you somehow missed this story too, I’m referring to an article that appears to contradict what we thought we knew about modern marriage. A survey in Norway attempts to draw a correlation between household chores and divorce. It suggests that couples, at least those in Norway who equally share household drudgery, have a higher divorce rate than those in which women shoulder most of the burden.

The article detailing the study’s results was published in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. While it quotes one of its authors, it doesn’t offer the actual data researchers used to reach their conclusions. And, a writer for The Atlantic points out that the Telegraph failed to mention under whose auspices the study was conducted.

I think it’s important to note here that my wife and I share household chores. We always have.

I’m not saying they are shared equally down the middle. But we each do what we must to keep the house at least one step ahead of the landfills profiled on “Hoarders: Buried Alive.”

For example:

  • I’ve been doing most of the grocery shopping lately.
  • She does most of the laundry.
  • I clean the bathrooms.
  • She’s in charge of the cat’s litter box and picking up after the dog when he does his business in the neighbor’s yard on their daily walks.
  • We share cooking duties and are individually responsible for the upkeep on the cars we drive.

I don’t think my wife and I are in danger of a marriage melt-down. But a less well-trained husband might be tempted to make use of the Norwegian study, however questionable it may be (and I’m not saying it is or it isn’t).

That’s because it’s not often men seem to be given permission by academics to stretch out in our favorite chairs and shout for a beer, all in the name of maintaining a healthy marriage. Usually, such studies point to the opposite – saying couples in which men actively participate in household chores are happier together.

If I tried to use the study’s findings to shirk swabbing out the toilet, I fear I’d look like a pig. Just in case, though, I emailed the article to my wife with a harmless note saying something like, “what do you think of this?”

She has yet to reply.


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