How Do Happy Families Share Their Household Work?

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Several days ago my parents celebrated 3 decades of marriage and we recalled that the roller coaster called life with its ups and downs was more enjoyable because they have been doing their best to play together as the team.

This spring Huffington Post launched #TalkToMe project so that parents and children converse and share their video messages with the audience.

Such crowd sourcing of opinions brings us to the conclusion that all happy or troublesome moments pass but what remains is feeling at home with being ourselves and appreciating people next to us. So this weekend I will surprise my family with a visit and inspirational questions, some of them might be #TalkToMeQuestions:

• Tell me something you've never told me.
• What do you wish you knew when you were my age?
• Tell me the story of the happiest moment you've ever had.
• What is the hardest challenge you've faced in your life?
• What's the biggest lesson you'd like to pass onto future generations?
• What are some of the little things you did for yourself or our family that made the biggest impact?
• If you could have one wish for me and my children, what would it be?
• If you had to choose one role model for me, who would it be and why?

Yet now I want to open a discussion of practicality in our homes, the strategies we use to get work done in a team or alone. In other words, I am interested to learn actually before embarking on marriage how, when and why the workload is shared?

You can also recall how you were brought up and to which extent the gender roles you continued to live with were useful to you so far: did they bring you enough love, harmony, satisfaction, and kindness? Or is it time to do things differently?

Gender equality should be also looked closer under the lens of data so that we try to answer the question: when do we decide to take some working hours off our back? Youngjoo Cha, the sociologist from Cornell University researched dual income families (i.e. 8,484 professional workers and 17,648 non-professional workers -- who did not require advanced education or training) from 1995 to 2000.

She measured if above a certain number of working hours (60 or more, to be precise) a family member will quit their job. In case a husband worked 60 hours or more per week, the odds of a woman quitting her job increased by 42 percent; but if a wife worked over 60 hours a week, the chances of a man quitting his job did not increase.

The good news is that US men, similar to trends in other nations, help with housework nearly double time in the past 40 years, whereas their participation in childcare has tripled.

Majority of household chores are still women's responsibility but the results of PEW Research Poll indicate that couples should be hugely motivated to share their workload more; after faithfulness and good sex, mutual participation in chores was the third highest-ranking factor that contributes to successful marriage: both in 1990 and 2007.

Atlantic's extensive study showed different communication models in interviews and all the existing household chores were classified in the following way: household maintenance (organizing objects and managing storage issues); household chores (meal preparation, cleaning, outdoor work) and in case of parenting childcare (bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, putting to bed). If you want to learn what differentiates happy households from the miserable ones, in this great 10-minute read you may recognize some of the household patterns to keep or remove.

The conclusion is that the couples who did not have clear communication what household tasks need to be performed, when and how felt overwhelmed and under pressure. Mindreading that the other party will participate only left people dissatisfied because the expectations and reality did not match. On the other hand, those couples who anticipated other people's needs as they tended to each other and communicated in an open manner, performed household chores more smoothly, as well.

And if you want to be completely certain about the responsibilities taken by you or your fellow family members, take the quiz: Chore Calculator. The data you receive will look at you straight in the eye and you can start a movement for more happiness in your household.

Why is it that we assume that women are more likely to work in the professions that involve relationships and caring such as secretaries, teachers, housewives, nurses? Why is it that we assume that our wives or mothers will more likely prepare every single meal for us or iron and vacuum clean every single time? When we communicate our needs in an assertive way, things indeed start to shift.

To make a more rapid shift in my environment, the next book I will read is Laura Vanderkam's bestseller 168 Hours - You Have More Than You Think as this author gives both practical advice and shows what research reveals. For example, in 1965 married mothers spend 34.5 hours on household tasks, whereas in 2008 both stay-at home and working mothers of minor children spend 16-17 hours weekly on housework.

Indeed women have made some progress either by sharing chores with other household members or outsourcing them to cleaning agencies, but it is a still long way to go. How about we start the journey of better communication this moment?

Share your opinions on the topic in the comment section. I am eager to hear from you.