Does Equal Division of Chores Mean More Divorces in Modern Marriages?

A close up of a person's hand, checking duties off on a list.
Hansen says it has less to do with the chores, and more to do with the mindset behind the modern division of labor.

At a glance, it may appear to be a slap in the face for modern gender equality. But the researchers behind this Norweigian study on how shared household chores can be tied directly to higher divorce rates, say it isn’t exactly what it appears on the surface. In fact, the more evenly divided domestic duties may have little or nothing to do with the higher rate of divorces in modern families. Instead, they say, it’s the mindset.

The study shows that ideas about “contentment” differ based on beliefs.

The study, entitled “Equality in the Home”, looked at whether or not couples were more content when both of them equally shared the chores and other domestic duties around the house. And the results were not what you’d expect! While the supposition was that couples with a more “modern” outlook on life would be happier, it turns out the opposite is true. Couples with a more “traditional” breakdown of domestic duties (ie: the wife does most of the work around the house) actually have a lower divorce rate. But how can that be? Surely couples who share the labor and treat each other as equals are happier?

Researchers say it has nothing to do with the chores themselves.

Thomas Hansen, co-author of the Norway-based study, says that he found the results very surprising. One would think, he noted, that in households with a more equal division of labor, you would find happier couples. But apparently not. In fact, statistics show that the more a man does around the house, the higher the divorce rate. But why on earth would that be? Surely more women would be happy to have the help? (And are men really that awful at washing the dishes or folding the laundry?) But according to Hansen, the chores themselves aren’t the main reason for the higher divorce rates.

Modern couples see marriage in a different way to traditional couples

Hansen says that modern couples don’t see marriage as ‘sacred’ in the way that more traditional couples did. So the issue of divorce is more likely to come up when they aren’t happy or feeling fulfilled. “Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage (being less ‘sacred’) In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially,” Hansen says.

Part of the problem lies in the ‘contractual’ nature of modern marriage

The heart of the problem, according to Hansen, lies in the difference between how marriage was traditionally viewed, versus how it’s viewed today. Couples with a more traditional view of marriage, where it’s seen as a sacred union, are less likely to seek divorce when they have issues. Instead, they’re more likely to try and solve the problem between themselves. Modern couples “are extremely sensitive to making sure everything is formal, laid out and contractual. The more you organize your relationship, the more you work out diaries and schedules, the more it becomes a business relationship than an intimate, loving spontaneous one.”

Sometimes marriages just don’t work out, no matter how hard you try.

Here at The Kronzek Firm we understand that no matter how modern or traditional your views on marriage may be, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. And when that happens, you’re going to need help navigating the complexities of the divorce process. So call 866 766 5245 and talk to our understanding and experienced family law attorneys. We’ve helped countless people in Michigan with every aspect of their divorces, from child support and custody to asset division and alimony. We can help you too.