In a survey taken in 2014 and 2015 of more than 35,000 married American adults — both with and without children — 56 percent of the respondents told Pew researchers that “sharing household chores” was “very important” to a good marriage.
The only two elements of a marriage that were rated higher by the respondents were “shared interests” (64 percent) and “satisfying sexual relationship” (61 percent).
Sharing household chores was deemed more important than shared religious beliefs (47 percent), having children (43 percent), adequate income (42 percent) and agreement on politics (16 percent).
Interestingly, married men were slightly more likely than women to say that sharing household chores was crucial to a successful marriage (63 percent vs. 58 percent).
Younger couples were also more likely to cite working together on household tasks as important. Sixty-seven percent of the survey’s respondents aged 18 to 29, and 63 percent of those aged 30 to 49, said chore-sharing was vital to a successful marriage. That compares with 57 percent of those aged 50 to 64 and 56 percent of those aged 65 and older.
Marriage and health
A study published earlier this fall reported that people with a happy spouse are about a third more likely to report being in overall good health, including having fewer physical problems and ailments, than their peers with an unhappy spouse.
In fact, the authors of that study said their findings suggested that having a happy spouse might benefit your health as much as being happy yourself.
Perhaps that’s where sharing the chores come in: keeping the other spouse happy.
The Pew survey, however, doesn’t make it clear what “sharing” housework means. In a separate 2015 survey of American parents who were either married or cohabitating and had at least one child under the age of 18 under their roof, only half acknowledged that they shared household chores equally. Most of the respondents (41 percent) said the mother did more, while 8 percent said the father did more.
Equal sharing of housework was reported by slightly more (59 percent) of adults in households where both parents worked full time, but even in these situations, 31 percent said the mother did more and 9 percent said the father did more.
“To be sure, even among couples where both partners work full time, the number of hours worked may differ significantly, and this could in turn influence how household chores are distributed,” write the Pew researchers. “Previous research indicates that, among full-time working parents, fathers work more hours, on average, than mothers do.”
Money and gender
How much each parent earns also seems to have an influence on the splitting up of household chores:
Those who earn about the same as their partner are more likely to say the division of household labor is about equal (65%) than those who earn less (52%) or more (51%). Among those parents who earn less than their partner, 41% say they personally take on more chores than their partner, while just 6% say their partner does more around the house. And among those who earn more than their partner, 29% say their partner does the larger share of chores, compared with 20% who say they personally do more.
And, when heterosexual couples are surveyed, perceptions about the delegation of chores appear to be determined by gender:
Fathers are more likely than mothers to say the chores are split about evenly between both partners in their household (56% vs. 46%). Fully half of mothers (50%) say they take up more responsibilities around the house than their partner, compared with just 12% of fathers who say they do more around the house. About one-third of fathers (32%) say their spouse or partner takes on more of the responsibility for chores in their household, compare with just 4% of mothers who say the father does more.