Who would have guessed that a recent Norwegian survey about couples and housework would have come to the conclusion that it did? The survey said that couples who share the housework are more likely to Divorce.
Charlotte Friedman, the founder of Divorce Support Group www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk – an organisation which helps make separation manageable, and a psychotherapist specialising in the emotional impact of divorce and separation, offers her view on this surprising piece of research.
Personally, I never heard a woman complain that her husband was doing too much of the cooking, ironing or washing up, but that’s what we are being told. So what might the reasons be for that? It is clear that compared with 50 years ago, women are better educated and have jobs rather than staying at home and being a ‘housewife’. Perhaps with that comes the idea that women can cope better now with divorce than they used to, in that they have achieved a sense of self and independence which stands them in good stead when the chips are down. That still doesn’t answer why sharing domestic chores leads to a greater likelihood of divorce. Perhaps, despite our wish that we didn’t have to do it all, we really like to have the control and do it the way that we like. If we both share the same roles, then there is scope for treading on each other’s toes and for thinking that the other is not pulling their weight sufficiently. Clearly defined roles seem to lead to more satisfaction. You know where you are if one person always puts the bins out and the other always makes the meals. If that is not defined, then ‘it’s your turn, no it’s not’ may take its place. Perhaps what could have been an intimacy when the chores were done, has been superseded by a sibling type relationship of ‘I laid the table last time.’ Not very conducive to an adult relationship and quite soul destroying to deal with day in and day out.
My view is just that marriage is less sacred than it was all those years ago. It is relatively easy to divorce (despite it being so painful) and we are constantly told that we are entitled to have our needs met and be listened to. So, perhaps it is not so much about the washing up and more about conflict not needing to be resolved. Independent, educated, working women feel they don’t have to suffer in silence or have a stiff upper lip anymore. If they don’t like it, they can just discard it. Maybe we have gone too far the other way. From marriages where people made their bed and had to lie in it, to marriages where the hoovering is less than satisfactory, leading to divorce. Somewhere in the middle might be good and much more sensible for everyone.