The Weird Thing That's Destroying Your Relationship

couple arguing

Could your blowout fight over the dishes be more deep-routed than you thought?

If you think about all the times that you have fought with your partner, can you accurately recall the reason for each of those arguments? I’m sure money came into play, because of course. Perhaps, not spending enough time together, because again, of course, but what about chores? Have you ever had an all-out brawl about the division of duties around the house? Maybe even screamed and yelled, and dramatically threw a plate at the wall because you were stuck doing the dishes yet again, while Mr. Man decided that in taking out the trash he's done all he has to do?

If not, then that's both awesome and weird. Awesome because you obviously must have set up some chore responsibility assignments early in your relationship, and weird because a major source of contention that’s tearing couples apart is who does what chores, when, how often, and whether or not they do them well. Yes, breaking up over your partner's inability to pick up the necessary cleaning slack around the house is totally legit, and many won't blame you.

A new study has found that the satisfaction within a relationship is greatly dependent upon the division of chores. Chores, that many women feel, are unevenly taken care of.

Researchers took 220 newlywed couples and gave them a questionnaire that measured two things: "cognitive egalitarianism (meaning how couples perceive male and female household responsibilities) and behavioral egalitarianism (how couples actually divide household responsibilities)." The participants were asked to keep their thoughts and opinions away from their partner, and go to town answering the questions.

The findings revealed a very large imbalance between the genders and their perception of household duties. Women were the ones whose satisfaction was deeply rooted in the division of chores, and when they felt that division was unequal, their satisfaction in their relationship dropped. Men, however, didn't feel the same way.

As the lead researcher Brian G. Ogolsky pointed out, husbands either never saw that there was a difference in the division of household duties (because duh) or, and even more annoying, "they have bought into the idea that the [housework] belongs to women."

Oh, dear. Did you just drop your face into your palm, too and weep a tear for humanity? It seems too many men may have been overdosing on Mad Men, which is a brilliant show, but breaking news, guys of the world, you're no Don Draper.

What this all comes down to is expectations not just within the relationship, but also within the world of gender equality. Housework is not just a woman's job, nor is taking out the trash just a guy's job. If these are the jobs on which you both agreed and it's working out swimmingly, then great! Don't try to fix something that isn't broken.

Unless you have a cleaning lady, or have already discovered the complete key to happiness with a perfectly constructed, evenly shared schedule of chore duties, then this is your moment to save your relationship before it possibly goes downhill. Do you really want to have to explain to your friends and family that your relationship came to end over a discrepancy in whose turn it was to separate the plastic and glass in the recycling? I think not.