Changing (who bakes the) Roles

By Erica Zaiser

A recent article in The Independent discusses the issue of sharing housework in a marriage. Despite the fact that husbands do much more housework than they did 50 years ago, statistics in the UK show that women still do more housework than men. However, given the increase in women working full-time, inequality in household chores has become a larger strain on marriages. This is supported by recent research showing that divorce rates are lower in families where husbands do housework.

One study looking at young unmarried people’s ideal and expected participation in housework and childcare sharing, found that young women expected to end up doing more housework than their husbands. However, men wanted to and expected to split household chores equally. Additionally, there was a difference between people who ideally wanted a career oriented partner versus a family oriented partner. Both men and women looking for a career oriented partner desired to participate more in household chores while those looking for a family oriented partner desired less involvement in household chores and child rearing.

This discrepancy between men and women’s expectations and desires for chore sharing may shed some light on why equality in the home has been slower moving than expected. The authors suggest that this type of research can help promote changes in attitudes towards men’s involvement in household chores. It also provides some evidence that in order for change to occur men need to follow through with their professed desire to be involved in housework but women also may need to change their expectations of doing more work, as men also seem to want equality.

Read more: Men want equality, but women don’t expect it: Young adult’s expectations for participation in household and childcare chores.

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