Forget the red roses and teddy bears this Valentine’s Day – the best way for men to shore up their relationships is to run the vacuum over.
Recent research backs this up. A Swedish study found heterosexual couples were more likely to divorce if men discounted women’s housework contributions. Also, women who did more housework than their partners were overall less satisfied with their relationships, and more likely to consider breaking up.
For many couples, housework is often a site of negotiation. On average, women perform more housework than men in all countries, including Australia.
For decades, sociologists have been intrigued by the persistent gendered division of housework, because women’s greater time spent on housework is often at the expense of their time in employment and leisure. Women’s greater housework share, even when earning more money or working longer hours, is pointed to as an illustration of patriarchy and lingering homemaker/breadwinner gender roles rooted in the Victorian era.
Even in a socially progressive country like Sweden, women spend more time on housework, on average, than men. While many studies have documented these differences across groups and countries, fewer studies investigate the consequences of housework inequality.
So the question has to be asked: does housework inequality ruin relationships?