Shared Responsibilities Can Improve Marriage

Shared Responsibilities Can Improve Marriage New research suggests a shared approach to household chores and parenting is a tonic for a successful marriage.

However, University of Missouri researchers discovered an equal distribution of responsibilities is not always necessary as each couple will determine expectations of each partner.

“Sharing can mean something different to every couple,” said Adam Galovan, lead researcher and doctoral student in human development and family studies.

“It could be taking turns changing diapers or one parent watching the children while the other prepares dinner. Doing things together and having mutual, agreed-upon divisions of labor benefitted both spouses.”

Galovan and his Brigham Young University and Utah State University colleagues surveyed 160 heterosexual couples to see how the parents divided household responsibilities and how those chores affected the husbands’ and wives’ relationships.

The couples were married for an average of five years and had at least one child age five or younger. Most of the parents were between 25 and 30 years old, and about 40 percent of the women had full- or part-time jobs.

“The more wives perceived that husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners,” Galovan said. “Wives in our study viewed father involvement and participation in household chores as related. Doing household chores and being engaged with the children seem to be important ways for husbands to connect with their wives, and that connection is related to better couple relationships.”

The bonds between fathers and their children also contributed to couples’ marital satisfaction, Galovan said.

“When wives felt their husbands were close to their children, both spouses reported better marriages,” said Galovan. “The father-child bond was particularly important for wives.”

Parenthood is not easy and caring for a child is a challenge. Couples should realize that transitioning into parenthood requires an adjustment period, and it is normal for husbands and wives to feel stressed, Galovan said.

To counteract the stress, he recommends that parents make each other a priority.

“Find ways to connect throughout the day, even if it’s just doing dishes together or watching a movie,” Galovan said. “These simple connections in daily life seem to enhance couples’ marital satisfaction and improve the quality of their relationships.”

The study is found in the Journal of Family Issues.

Source: University of Missouri

Couple sharing chores photo by shutterstock.

Psych Central News » Relationships and Sexuality

15 Responses to Shared Responsibilities Can Improve Marriage

  1. The Supervisor April 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    How would you pitch this in a couple therapy session?

  2. ashley m. April 27, 2013 at 12:32 am

    This article reminds me of a statistic thrown out to my undergraduate psychology of marriage and family class. The stat says that individuals in relationships tend to overestimate the amount of work (household chores, bills, emotional attention, etc.) they do in the relationship by 20%. So, if you believe you are doing 70% of the work in your relationship, you are actually doing 50%. This fact made me really re-evaluate the expectations of my husband and of myself in our partnership. Am I really doing more or is that my perception? Communicating expectations and being realistic is key to finding balance and equity in your relationship.

    • The Supervisor April 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      Very insightful.

  3. Hull April 27, 2013 at 12:36 am

    “Pitching in” and contributing demonstrates you care and value the other person. “I love you,” or “I appreciate you,” is easy to say, but “pitching in” means more. For the simple reason that it takes some of the pressure, responsibility, or drain off the other person. Another reason “pitching in” is important might be that the couple would spend more time together.
    Healthy relationships require a balanced distribution of power. If one person is the “servant” while the other is “dominant” there is likely to be conflict and/or dissatisfaction.

    • The Supervisor April 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      Would this rationale remain the same even if there was only one primary income source in the home?

  4. Jenny April 29, 2013 at 2:30 am

    To answer “The Supervisor’s” question, I would pitch this in therapy by exploring the expectations each person has for the other. What do they think the other person’s duties should include? Do they feel there is a fair distribution of labor in the home? What do they feel they should do? Healthy relationships are about balance. This balance can be different for each couple and is to be decided by each couple based off of what they are willing to accept.

    • The Supervisor April 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Based off what they are willing to accept or the needs of the relationship…?

  5. Lubna. K April 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Pitching in from one spouse to other would be helping each other out with household responsibilities and showing that they care for each other. If one spouse is doing all the house work and the other just watching TV or on the phone, that would develop feelings of anger for the spouse who is doing the most work. It is important for a healthy relationship that each spouse should feel that their needs are met and they love each other and care for each other.

    • The Supervisor April 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Would this rationale remain the same even if there was only one primary income source in the home?

  6. Joel April 29, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Without being able to review the entire research, I would have to state that the research seems very biased and inadequate. The article states 160 heterosexual couples married an average of 5 years: hopefully, by that time many couples will have found an equilibrium to maintain their relationships; if not, they would have divorced within the first 2-3 years. Second, the authors are correlating household chores with marital satisfaction but their definition of household chore is extremely broad and they even talk about stress… They do admit “Sharing can mean something different to every couple,” but still forgetting that correlation does not equal causation. To respond to the supervisor, I would provide the article as a talking point or item of discussing and let the couple decide if it would apply in their case and their view point, but would hesitate to call it research.

    • The Supervisor April 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      In your clinical opinion, do you think shared responsibilities can improve marriage?

  7. Latocia K May 1, 2013 at 3:06 am

    I know shared responsibility has improved my marriage. Having my spouse help with cooking, washing clothes, doing the dishes, and helping check our child’s homework on designated days gives me time to structure my life and leave time to take care of self. We both get more things accomplished and sharing responsibilities overall gives us more time to spend with each other and our child. Sharing responsibilities can improve your relationship because one person is not doing all the work and you both feel like you are working together as a team. “It makes life easier… “

  8. Charisse May 3, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Absolutely! Shared responsibilities promotes a happier and healthier marriage and home. Too many duties, roles, and/or obligations, increases the amount of stress on an individual. The union of marriage should be a system that is maintained and cared for by both parties. Both parties should provide as much of himself/herself as possible to ensure the other party is not becoming overwhelmed and to show that they are giving 100% of themselves 100% of the time. Again, shared responsibility absolutely builds a happier marriage.

  9. Reginald May 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I believe that shared responsibility can improve marriages. Often times men leave it up to the women to do all the work around the house like homework, laundry, dishes, etc. I believe that when a husband shares in these things with his wife it can greatly improve their relationship with each other, because the wife doesn’t feel so alone and burdened. Men will try to use working as an excuse to get out of all the things around the house, but I don’t think men should be exempt from household duties even if the wife is a stay at home mom. I don’t know about anyone else on this site, but I have two kids and I have stayed home alone for a full day to take care of them and felt like I had just worked a full time job doing roofing in 100 degree weather. I have compassion on my wife and know how hard it is to take care of children and do all the work around the house, so I share in doing things with her. She greatly appreciates it. In my opinion, men are usually the ones that bell out of those particular house duties and then want all the sex in the world at night from an exhausted wife. The way that I would pitch it in a counseling session is like this, both partners would be satisfied doing it this way. If the husband helps out with the duties around the house it takes a lot of the burden off of his wife and gives her freedom and energy to express herself more at the end of the day with him in the bedroom. What man wouldn’t fall for that one?

  10. Sharon May 15, 2013 at 2:26 am

    I think that shared responsbilities can absolutely contribue to a happier and healthier marriage. Balance in a relationship is important. Sharing household duties prevents one partner from carrying the weight of managing a household alone which can be very stressful. When partners share duties they have additional time to spend with one another. I would pitch this in a couple therapy session by explaining that love is action word and is measured more in terms of the things that we do versus how much we say we love our partner. Helping out around the house conveys to their partner that they are valued and loved.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Newsletter