Friday, May 14, 2010
Men who help with housework have happier marriages
Forget boxes of chocolates and romantic weekends away.
The secret to a happy marriage is to roll up your sleeves and help your wife with the housework.
Research shows that unions in which the men muck in with the chores and childcare are more likely to last the course.
And the more elbow grease a man puts in, the lower the odds of him heading to the divorce courts.
The results of the study of thousands of British couples will be music to the ears of millions of women.
Men, however, are likely to be a little less keen on the idea that they should be taking on their share of 'women's work'.
Researchers from the renowned London School of Economics, normally used to dealing with more weighty academic affairs, have turned their minds to the hoovering and washing up.
They tracked the fortunes of 3,500 married couples who had their first child during one week in 1970 - an age when most women with young children stayed at home.
When the children were five years old, the women were asked about how much their husbands did around the house, including helping with housework, childcare and shopping.
Just over half didn't help at all - or only assisted with one task.
A quarter carried out two tasks, and the remaining quarter did three or four, the journal Feminist Economics reports.
Around 7 per cent of the couples had divorced by the time the child was ten, rising to 20 per cent by the youngster's 16th birthday.
When the two pieces of information were crunched together it became clear that the more a man helped out, the more stable his marriage was.
It showed that although divorce became more common when the mother went out to work, this increase could be kept to a minimum by the father pulling his weight around the house.
Researcher Wendy Sigle-Rushton said: 'The results suggest the risk of divorce among working mothers, while greater, is substantially reduced when fathers contribute more to housework and childcare.'
Marriages in which the father stayed at home and took responsibility for the childcare and chores were as stable as those which followed traditional gender roles.
The finding, claimed Dr Sigle-Rushton, exploded the theory that marriages work best when comprised of a stay-at-home mother and a working father.
She added: 'The structure of the labour market, rates of female labour market participation, rates of divorce, and expectations about men's and women's gender roles have all changed considerably since 1975.
'But this study underscores the importance of taking into account relationships between men's behaviour and marital stability.'