Sharing out the dishwashing duties more fairly could be one of the best ways to improve a relationship, new research suggests.
Out of all household chores, (not) doing the dishes is the most likely to damage a relationship.
Women in heterosexual relationships who did more dishes than their partners reported:
- Lower relationship satisfaction,
- more relationship conflict,
- and worse and less sex.
The study looked at different household tasks including shopping, cleaning and laundry.
It revealed that there is something particularly irritating about doing the dishes.
Dr Dan Carlson, who led the study, thinks it is because dishwashing is a thankless task, unlike cooking which attracts praise.
Also, it is yucky.
Men improving, but…
Men are picking up some of the slack in the household chores department, research has found.
Between 1999 and 2006 the couples who shared dishwashing duty rose from 16% to 29%.
Per week, men now do 4 hours of housework compared with two in 1965.
Still way off a perfect score for men, but an improving trend.
The study’s authors write:
“Contrary to arguments of a stalled gender revolution, the authors find that contemporary couples more often share all routine tasks (other than shopping) than couples in the past, with the greatest change in dishwashing and laundry.
The equal sharing of housework is more positively related to sexual intimacy and relationship satisfaction among more recent cohorts and more negatively related to marital discord.”
Of course, men will argue that their share is done in other areas, like lawn mowing, car cleaning and DIY.
However, men still avoid the least desirable jobs, like cleaning the toilet and the laundry.
Naturally, this can create resentment — especially when other couples are seen to share out the work more equally.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Socius (Carlson et al., 2018).