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Aug. 29, 2013 Volume 35, No. 2

Marriage strengthened when parents share child care, house cleaning

Wives impressed when husbands interact with the children, study finds

Couples who share household chores are happier than couples who don’t, an MU study suggests. 

But that doesn’t mean the couples have to do the same chore, such as both folding the laundry, said Adam Galovan, a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies who led the study. 

“Sharing can mean something different to every couple,” Galovan said. “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 colleagues surveyed 160 heterosexual couples to see how the parents divided household responsibilities and how those chores affected their relationship. The couples were married for an average of five years and had at least one child five years old 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. 

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

The study was published this year in the online Journal of Family Issues.