The study by Stockholm University's Demography Unit shows that household sharing and the perception of it can have a significant impact on relationship satisfaction, even leading to separation if it isn't accurately reflected.
“We looked at heterosexual couples and whether they agree on how they share the household and if that affects their relationship,” Maria Brandén, one of the authors of the research, told The Local.
“In line with other research we find that if couples divide the household tasks unequally, so if the woman does more than the man, it reflects badly on the relationship. Those couples are more likely to dissolve and they have less relationship satisfaction,” she added.
That may not come as a surprise, but of more interest is what the research shows regarding the effects of discrepancies in perception of who does the greater share of the household chores.
“If the woman reports they share the work unequally and the man reports they share equally, this has an even more negative effect. So, if the man doesn't acknowledge that the woman does more work, it also has a negative effect on the relationship,” Brandén noted.
And the results suggest the same applies for men:
“If the man says he does the most, and the woman says they share equally, men also have higher break-up intentions. So it is kind of the same, but it is less common, because it is not as common that the man does the most housework.”
The research collected nation-wide data from couples in Sweden about their views on their relationships, and along with housework, it addressed other questions like parental leave.
“We have both partners' attitudes on gender equality, on household sharing, both partners' view on parental leave and what they consider a good life. We can do quite a lot of interesting research based on this data in the domain of gender equality in the family,” Brandén explained.
But it was limited in that the majority of the couples who participated were heterosexual:
“Unfortunately we had only very few homosexual couples in the data, so it wouldn't be possible to do a valid analysis with it.”
Sweden has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. So is housework the big problem? And what should couples in the country look to change this Valentine's Day if they want to beat the trend and keep their relationship alive?
“I guess what's more important is to share the housework equally, but if you don't, you should at least give credit to the partner who does the most,” Brandén recommended.