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How A Couple Splits Up Dishwashing Duties Can Affect The Quality Of The Relationship

Especially for women.

Look, we get it. Not everyone likes doing the dishes. Even if we're lucky enough to own a dishwasher to do the work for us, there are still times when we have to manually clean some items. And that sucks.

But, if you're a woman in a relationship who's finding herself doing the bulk of the dishwashing, you might be in worse shape than single women.

According to a new report published in the Council on Contemporary Families, as of 2006, women reported that the household chore that made the biggest difference in their satisfaction with their relationship was dishwashing. Specifically, the report noted that women who took on the bulk of the dishwashing reported "significantly more relationship discord, lower relationship satisfaction, and less sexual satisfaction than women who split the dishes with their partner."

However, if dishwashing was split evenly between partners, women reported higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship.

But it's not just dishwashing that can cause discontent in a relationship. Other household chores, such as doing the laundry, the shopping, and the cleaning, can also make a difference depending on how it's split up between romantic partners. When it comes down to it, when one partner takes on more of the load, there's going to be strife, which can be damaging to a relationship over time.

"It seems individuals and couples take stock of their arrangements in comparison to those around them, and those assessments of relative advantage or disadvantage come to shape their feelings about their arrangements and their relationships overall," noted the report's author, Daniel Carlson, an assistant professor of family, health, and policy in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah.

"This suggests that as the sharing of other tasks becomes more common, the benefits of sharing — and the costs of not sharing — increase."

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Carlson noted that his and his colleagues' research, which will be published later this month in the Socius journal, also found that by 2006, the proportion of couples splitting up household chores had increased significantly since the 1990s.

Couples who split cleaning had doubled to 22 per cent; shared laundry duties increased to 21 per cent (it was 9 per cent in the '90s); and shared cooking had risen to 21 per cent from 13 per cent, while shared dishwashing increased to 29 per cent from 16 per cent.

Shopping, as of 2006, remains the most frequently shared task. (Makes sense — we all want to grab favourite treats.)

Previous research has suggested that when married couples feel that the division of household labour is fair, they experience increased sexual satisfaction.

"Feelings of unfairness in housework and other aspects of your marriage can be corrosive to the relationship," Anne Barrett, director of Florida State University's Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, noted in a recent study published in the journal Social Forces.

"When the housework arrangement is unfair to women, it reduced — on a scale of zero to 10 points — by almost a point on average the sexual satisfaction scores for both women and men," Barrett added.

And a 2016 study published in The Journal of Marriage and Family also noted that sharing tasks increased a couple's desire for each other.

"Love used to be seen as the attraction of opposites, and each partner in a marriage specialized in a unique set of skills, resources, and emotions that, it was believed, the other gender lacked. Today, love is based on shared interests, activities, and emotions. Where difference was once the basis of desire, equality is increasingly becoming erotic," noted historian Stephanie Coontz, as reported by the Council on Contemporary Families.

So there you have it, folks. Couples that do the dishes together, stay together!

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