Household Chores Could Lead to Divorce for Working Spouses
By: M. Scott Gordon
Can disputes over household chores lead to divorce? If both parties in a marriage have full-time jobs that require them to be outside the home on a regular basis, coming home from work and having to attend to household chores can lead to substantial relationship dissatisfaction, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School.
Indeed, as the study explains, disagreements over household responsibilities are one of the main reasons that couples separate. We often think of financial problems and infidelity as the underlying reasons that many people decide to file for divorce in Chicago and across the country. However, as the study suggests, the personal unhappiness that comes with returning home from work only to do more household work could in fact be a major underlying cause for many divorce petitions.
If household work is such a problem, what can couples do to save their marriages?
Finding Ways to Avoid the Second Shift at Home
Whether it is a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple, both women and men may get frustrated working a ‘second shift’ at home, the authors of the study report. In other words, getting off work and having to do a second shift of housework can be extremely demoralizing after a long day at the office, and it leads to a lot of personal dissatisfaction. What should married couples do to prevent this second shift at home? For a relatively small amount of money, married couples who have disputes over household chores may be able to hire a housecleaner to do some of the dirty work.
Not only does paying for a housecleaner once per week, for example, lessen the household chores required of a married couple, but it also gives them more free time at home (or time for other more enjoyable activities) as well as more quality time with one another. Looking at seven different studies involving cohabitating adults, the researchers concluded that “time-saving purchases promote relationship satisfaction.”
Why Does Buying Time Make People Happier in Marriages?
We mentioned that household chores are now being cited as one of the more common reasons that couples decide to file for divorce. In one study, for instance, about 25 percent of recently divorced people said that disagreements over housework represented the primary reason for the dissolution of the marriage. However, buying time—such as by paying for a housecleaner—may not prevent divorce in all couples.
The research suggests that paying for free time only make people happier in certain circumstances. More specifically, paying for someone to take care of the household chores is only likely to improve a couple’s relationship if the majority of their stressors are controllable. For example, if the household chores are the major stressor in the marriage—these are a controllable stressor, since there is a straightforward solution for married couples with the means to buy time that would be used cleaning the house—then buying time is likely to make people happier in their marriages, However, if the stressors are not controllable, then paying someone else to do the chores is less likely to prevent divorce.
Reach Out to a Chicago Divorce Lawyer