For years women have been complaining that their partners create housework for them to do, but up until recently there was nothing to prove this but clothes on the floor and dishes in the sink.
All of your loved ones came together for one day to celebrate the happy couple – witnessing as you pledged your lives to one another and began the next chapter in your lives together. Wedding ceremonies talk of love, support and understanding. They paint a picture of our happily ever after, full of joy, teamwork and laughter.
Sure, a good marriage does include all of those elements, but it’s not as easy as we would like to believe. A marriage is hard work, dedication, accepting and loving your partner’s flaws and learning how to forgive. It requires you to step up and support your partner, helping to compensate for their weaknesses and making their needs a priority in your life.
This sacrifice and idea of prioritizing your overall role in the team used to be incredibly clear and easy to point out. The wife would dedicate their lives to building a family, raising the children and caring for the family home while it was the job of the husband to go out into the working world, making a living and providing for their family.
Many of us like to believe that this is no longer the ‘way of life’ in 2016 with the increase in equality, however, studies now show that the responsibility of household tasks still largely falls into the lap of the wife. More so, this study out of the University of Michigan concludes that men actually increase the amount of housework that women have to do by a total of 7 hours every week!
Frank Stafford ISR economist and director of the study explains, “It’s a well-known pattern. There’s still a significant reallocation of labor that occurs at marriage – men tend to work more outside the home, while women take on more of the household labor. Certainly, there are all kinds of individual difference here, but in general, this is what happens after marriage. And the situation gets worse for women when they have children.”
Now don’t be alarmed, we aren’t saying that we have made no progress in the push towards equality. In fact, Stafford said that we have taken some great steps in the right direction. He reported that women in 1976 completed an average of 26 hours of housework each week, however, this number has dropped to 17 hours in 2005. Meanwhile, men were only doing an average of 6 hours of housework in 1976 and by 2005 they were being credited with doing 13 hours.
The researchers had their participants complete regular time diaries, outlining how they spend their time each day. Comparing this information with a series of questionnaires, they analyzed the breakdown of responsibilities within their relationships. Specifically, they focused on the amount of time spent cooking, cleaning and doing basic ‘core’ chores around the home.
The results of their study were relatively clear. Single women in their 20s and 30s only did approximately 12 hours of housework each week, the least of all age groups. On the other end of the housework scales were married women in their 60s and 70s which were found to do an average of 21 hours of housework a week. The amount of housework increased even further in households where women had children. The mother of 3 children reported an average of 28 hours of housework each week!
The results for men were significantly different. While they did follow the same pattern in the sense that older men did do more housework on average than younger men, the amount of housework completed by single men was more in all age groups than their married counterparts.
While we have witnessed an increase of women working outside the home, with women bringing home a higher salary than their husbands in 37% of heterosexual married couples, this doesn’t turn the tables on the housework division. Even hard-working, career wives are logging more hours doing housework than their husbands, further adding to the lack of balance in the responsibilities of their relationship.
The final lesson? While we have come a long way towards equality in the world today we still need to keep pushing forward as we have a long way to go!