Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
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The Effects of End of Day Housework on Both Men and Women
Posted in Healthy Relatio... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Jan 29, 2013
Did you know that all that housework you do at the end of the day could be affecting your health? A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, done by researchers at the University of Southern California reported that the stress endured by couples today is taking a tremendous toll on their well-being.

This study was done using couples with a median age of 41 who all had a child at home between the age of 8 and 10 years old. The couples were all dual income earners in Los Angeles. This scenario in an of itself can carry with it certain stressors, but how these couples managed household tasks was a significant contributor to their overall stress load.

Using measurable cortisol blood levels to determine the presence of stress, the researchers noted that there was a change from the usual decrease in these stress hormone levels at the end of the day. Instead, the levels were remaining consistent or increasing. We typically think of the evening as a time to relax and unwind and this state correlates with decreased cortisol levels. When our body remains in action mode, internally or externally, relaxation becomes difficult to achieve.

Individuals who have consistently high cortisol levels are susceptible to a host of both mental and physical illnesses. They even tend to have a shorter life span so these findings are critical. Our home life obviously has a tremendous impact on our overall health and this report focuses specifically on the inverse relationship between the stress of a working mother and a working father.

For example, the study showed that a working mother’s cortisol level decreased significantly when her husband assisted with the housework at the end of the day. Conversely, a working father’s stress level only decreased if his mate relaxed less and picked up most of the chores while he relaxed more. In essence, this “second shift” is much different for women than it is for men, even though traditional roles have changed greatly in America.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a good solution when it comes to sharing the load. In other words, it is hard to achieve a scenario that results in less stress for both partners. This doesn’t mean that people should stop trying to find ways to minimize their stress in general. It may mean more planning ahead and a better division of labor throughout the course of the week to reduce the burden of after work responsibilities. Once the kids are in bed couples should find ways to unwind together. Not only is this good for your relationship but it is also good for your health.

- Cyndi

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If the researchers REALLY want to pick a good time for the cortisol levels to go through the roof, just wait until: the husband who has been home for some time and is happily watching TV, sits on his backside watching his wife wrangle herself, the baby, and all the things necessary for the baby's care through the door, when he asks her (before she is even all the way into the house,) "WHAT'S FOR DINNER?"
By madbookworm  Feb 01, 2013
3
Interesting article...but I have a question...

What exactly are "measurable cortisol blood levels to determine the presence of stress"

Thanks
By DepressedRecluse  Jan 31, 2013
2
If both work, they need to learn to stress less about the appearance of the home. If everything is messy but you feel content, thats all that matters in the end. And the mention of men preferring the woman to pick up the chores is typical. In that case he needs to bust his ass at work and bring in enough money so that she stayes home and cleans/cooks. I know plenty of very happy couples where the wife stayes home while her husband is more than happy to provide for her. Traditional ways actually tend to work out better than the confusing modern bullshit. Men will always prefer to keep their double standards, so in that case make the fucker work rather than expect you to work while simultaneously taking care of the house. Then go and spend his money. hahaha
By EtherealTranquility  Jan 29, 2013
1
Step 1: Turn the TV OFF!

Step 2: Both spouses need to compromise on what the end of the day tasks are. If one spouse expects "spotless clean" and the other expects "good enough" then there will be stress for at least one of them and most likely both.

Step 3: In the above situation (different expectations) let the "good enough" spouse spend their time getting things good enough, and let the "spotless clean" spouse spend the same amount of time making it spotless.

Compromise is the key!
By ThePepperMan  Jan 29, 2013
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