By Robert L. Mues   |   June 3rd, 2017

Does an Unequal Allocation Household Chores Lead to a Divorce? Studies says yes…and no!

divorce household choresTo have a successful marriage there are several factors that need to be considered such as being honest with your spouse, being respectful of your spouse, being loyal to your spouse, and, a more recent trend, splitting household chores with your spouse. This last one may seem out of place, but according to research from Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study more than half of married individuals feel that sharing household chores is important for a successful marriage.  Another study, led by Michael Rosenfield, Associate Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, discovered that women are more likely to seek a divorce due to their frustration when their husbands do not “pull their weight.” Read the study here.

Historically, gender roles in our society have dictated how men and women act. For example, women have been the ones to do the household chores while men went out into the workforce and were the “breadwinners.” However, we now live in a time where both men and women work; thus, it would only make sense that household chores were split as well. Most of the time that is not the case. Women still predominately do the housework on top of maintaining a job.

Although times have changed society’s “gender roles” have not and it seems that is the main reason why men do not participate in household chores. Men feel that (1) it takes away from their potential to earn money and (2) it will garner backlash from other men. With that being said, we need to try to move past these antiquated gender roles and embrace society as it is.

Pull Your Weight Or It’s Divorce! More Than Half Of Married Individuals Feel That Sharing Household Chores Is Important For A Successful Marriage

In the study done by Rosenfield 2,262 couples were followed beginning in 2009 and by 2015 92 couples were divorced, and 69% of the divorces were initiated by women. A similar trend has been seen in the UK as well. Here is a link to that UK study. Approximately 30% of marriages in the UK have ended in divorce and the reason: “men are not contributing to the household chores.” As many as 56% of divorcing couples claim that “chores” is a major factor in divorce. A breakdown of the study has shown the ranking of reasons why divorce occurs:

  1. 40% – infidelity
  2. 35% – drifting apart
  3. 30% – chores
  1. 26% – leaving stuff lying around
  2. 26% – not pulling equal weight
  3. 18% – neglecting to wash up
  4. 15% – not doing laundry and dishes.

According to these studies the third most cited reason for divorce is unequal division of chores. However, there is conflicting research, according to CNBC, an unequal division of chores is not the reason for increased divorce, rather it is unemployment rates. According to a new Harvard divorce study the risk factor that is leading to increased divorces is when a husband losses his job. The loss of a job leads to a 32% higher risk of divorce.  Here is the link to the CNBC article.

But Divorce Rates Among Couples Who Shared Household Chores Equally Are Higher?

Interestingly, these results are directly contrary to a Norwegian study I wrote about on November 3, 2012.  Check it out here  In that study, the researcher concluded that divorce rates among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 percent higher than among those where the wives did most of the housework!

In conclusion, it seems unclear if solely the unequal division of chores is truly leading to an increased divorce rate. Nonetheless, it is clear that there are many factors that go into a divorce and one of those factors is the division of housework. Thus, it should go without saying that to have a successful marriage couples have to have an understanding of all the expectations of marriage and married life including how chores will be divided.

Publisher’s Note: I want to thank our extern, Krystal Rosado, a second year law student at the University of Dayton School of Law, for her research and writing this divorce blog article.  Great job Krystal!

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Divorce: Does an Unequal Allocation Household Chores Lead to a Divorce?
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