How do you and your partner divide up the household chores? A study done in Sweden suggests that if partners feel a general sense of equality within the relationship, both in public and private arenas; then how the chores are divided becomes less significant, as it pertains to stress. The study was done with 700 Swedish men and women. Even though Sweden has a large number of women in the workforce, the study showed that women still assumed a majority of the housework. Also significant to this study’s results, is that Sweden maintains a strong culture of gender equality.
According to the data, certain household tasks are more stress laden than others. For instance, those chores that need to be done on a regular basis and are time specific, such as getting the kids to school or walking the dog each morning, can elicit more of a stress response. Tasks such as doing the laundry or tending to the garden, which can be done at any time during the week, did not appear to cause as much stress.
As with so many things, socioeconomic factors shaped the results of this research. Males with lower income ranges, who did less than half the housework, showed high levels of psychological distress. This may be due in part to the challenge this presents to strongly held gender stereotypes.
The reality is that most household tasks are not very exciting but they are necessary to maintaining order and cleanliness in the home. If one partner feels as though they carry the lion share of the burdens, and that their contribution to the household is not valued, then there will be some level of stress both personal and within the relationship.
As mundane as it may seem, it is important for couples to thoroughly discuss the division of labor at the outset of their cohabitation. If one partner works outside the home and the other is the primary income earner this doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be household tasks delegated to the person who works outside of the house. The key to harmony is for each person to be in agreement with the assigned duties. It is easy to lose sight of what it takes to maintain a household so expressions of appreciation can go a long way to decrease stress levels and improve the quality of the relationship in general.
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