home chores and chores around the house - couple arguing

34% say their partner purposefully does home chores poorly to avoid doing them in the future

A new survey has found that about three quarters of cohabitating couples disagree on how to split home chores fairly.

A new survey has found that about 72% of cohabitating couples disagree on how to split home chores fairly.

On average, the surveyed people felt they spend 2.6 more hours than their partner each month on doing chores around the house.

And women were 45% more likely than men to report dissatisfaction with their partner’s household contributions.

The research also found that couples reported spending an average of 75 minutes per month arguing over the cleaning chores.

The survey was based on the responses of 2,000 U.S. adults who live together with their spouse or partner. It was commissioned by home robotics company Roborock.

The goal was to examine how the division of chores around the house impacts a couple’s relationship health.

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More home chores to do when everyone is working and schooling from home

Many couples have been struggling with dividing the cleaning chores due to the seemingly endless waves of lockdowns and quarantines, which makes it even trickier to balance their jobs with their domestic responsibilities.

The survey found, for example, that about 40% of couples say they argued more about household chores schedules than they did before work-from-home and homeschooling became the norm.

More family members being at home means extra work: familiar examples include more dishes, towels and clothes that need cleaning; more trash to take out; more messes and spills that require wiping and mopping, etc.

And almost half of the surveyed couples said that “a more balanced division” of household chores would lower the frequency of those arguments.

Always getting stuck with the most unpleasant cleaning chores

The survey also found about 20% of respondents saying they feel they’re “always getting stuck with the dirty work.”

Another common complaint was that one partner felt they were always having to finish their partner’s assigned tasks, along with their own.

In fact, only 9% said they felt that their partner always completes their share of the cleaning chores.

About 51% of surveyed women said their core responsibilities involve indoor chores (such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry), and 62% of men said their core responsibilities are outside household chores (such as lawn mowing and pool cleaning).

Interestingly, 34% of respondents (37% of men vs 31% of women) said they felt their significant other has at times “purposefully done chores poorly to avoid doing them in the future.”

Men were more likely to suspect their significant other of “strategic incompetence” than women.

And 43% of men (vs 32% of women) believe that their significant other purposefully chooses the more desirable and/or less time-consuming chores.

Things get better over time

The survey also found a link between the length of the relationship and the number of arguments about household chores.

Perhaps surprisingly, these disagreements decrease significantly over time.

Among couples who had been together for less than 6 months, only about 56% reported being satisfied with their partner’s efforts to do chores around the house.

But that figure increases steadily, reaching 76% for couples who had been together for 10 years or more.

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Relationship salvation in the form of a weekly chore list

These survey results lend support to the idea that couples who make an active effort to share the household chores evenly will likely see the benefits in terms of a stronger and healthier relationship. 

Something as simple as making a list of chores to do around the house, together with household chores schedules that everyone abides by, can make a big difference.

So make the effort: creating an ultimate household chore list isn’t an overwhelming task, and it doesn’t need to take long.

You might break it down into daily chores, or a weekly chore list, or monthly chores, or even seasonal lists: whatever works for your situation.

A season-based approach probably works best psychologically: “spring cleaning” sounds a lot more energizing than a “weekly deep clean of the stove, bathroom, and fridge.”

And it’s never too early to get your kids involved. Teaching a child the wonders of dusting off the furniture or keeping a tidy floor is a valuable life skill.

But talking about these things in advance — and making a master list that everyone agrees to follow — can do wonders for your household, your family, and especially your relationship.

Photos: by DepositPhotos and Pexels

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Douglas Heingartner

Douglas Heingartner, the editor of PsychNewsDaily, is a journalist based in Amsterdam. He has written about science, technology, and more for publications including The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, the BBC, The Washington Post, New Scientist, The Associated Press, IEEE Spectrum, Quartz, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and others. His Google Scholar profile is here, his LinkedIn profile is here, and his Muck Rack profile is here.