So-called ‘modern’ marriages, where partners share household tasks such as cooking and cleaning, are 50 per cent more likely to end in divorce, according to new research in Norway.
In the study ‘Equality in the home’, co-author Thomas Hansen claims, “What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment.”
Researchers professed surprise at finding break ups were more common in these families, rather than in those where one partner shoulders the majority of household responsibilities. But according to the figures, “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate.”
But hold on a minute, it’s highly unlikely couples divorce over one too many arguments about who loads the dishwasher correctly. And though the researchers seek to explore other aspects of modern relationships, a preoccupation with life’s mundanities may be rather oversimplifying the results.
Hansen suggests it could be the values of these equality-insisting couples that are upping their divorce risk.
“Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage as being less sacred,” he explains. “In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially. They can manage much easier if they divorce.”
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But though the study shows a correlation between chores and divorce, it’s not necessarily cause-and-effect and the research seems to neglect many other aspects of modern relationships that may contribute to breaking up. For one, couples who divide chores in a businesslike way may also make a rational decision to split if the relationship is not working, whereas those who accept an unequal division of chores may not feel confident to suggest or go through with a divorce.
It also seems obvious that if the chores are split equally, there’s a higher likelihood that both partners will be working full time and contributing equally to the family finances. And this means women have more ability to leave an unhappy relationship than those who don’t work, manage the house full time and do not have their own financial independence.
So it’s probably got nothing whatsoever to do with his dishwasher-loading skills.