Study: Household chores disputes factor in 25 percent of divorces

Last updated on April 8, 2021

Who is going to do the dishes, mow the yard and clean the cat litter? Who is going to vacuum the living room and who is taking care of laundry? Who is going grocery shopping and who is undertaking spring cleaning? Unsurprisingly, questions over household chores are often the source of conflict in marriage.

In fact, a new paper from Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia makes the remarkable claim that “disagreements about housework” is a significant factor in one fourth of all divorces, trailing closely behind infidelity (40 percent) and “drifting apart” (35 percent).

The authors of the paper offer a simple solution to this common problem: hire someone else to do the housework. They cite a series of studies of married couples and long-term unmarried couples that indicate that those couples who spend the necessary money to have someone else take care of cleaning or laundry (and similarly dreary chores) report that they are more satisfied with their relationships than those who don’t spend the money.

Researchers don’t believe it’s the freedom from household drudgery that makes those couples happier, but rather the removal of conflicts over chores – and additional quality time together.

Another possibility: leave the chores undone. This can be an attractive option for those who aren’t in a financial position to hire a maid or send out laundry, and it can also appeal to those who are incurably thrifty.

Of course, leaving things undone requires both parties to agree to skip some chores in favor of spending time together in more pleasant ways.

No matter the source of marital conflict – whether it is over chores or not – there can be differences and disputes that simply overwhelm a relationship.

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