Appreciation can offset unequal household chores for couples

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People feel less satisfied with their relationships in the moment and become less satisfied over time when they report doing more than their fair share of household chores, research shows.

These negative feelings, however, disappear when their partners express their appreciation.

Compliments also result in another benefit: “Feeling appreciated also appears to buffer the negative effects of doing less, suggesting that feeling appreciated can offset the relational costs of an unequal division of labor, regardless of person who contributes the most”, says Amie Gordon, assistant. professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study.

While an equal division of domestic work between partners is ideal, inequality is common. And when that happens, relationships can suffer.

In a study to be published in Psychological SciencesGordon and his collaborators use data from three samples including nearly 2,200 people from the United States and Canada during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They followed two of the samples over six and nine months to assess changes in relationships. During this period, couples spent more time at home with less outside help, often caring for children, and experienced significant changes in employment, making it a particularly relevant time for examine the division of labor.

Respondents answered questions about the division of labor as well as how they felt valued by their partners. They also answered questions about their relationship satisfaction as well as a number of other relevant variables, such as their employment status, income level, physical health, such as sleep quality, and well-being. – to be mental.

While many people thought both partners contributed equally to household chores, more than half said one person contributed more effort than their partner (with most of these people saying they did more chores housewives than their partner). When the latter occurs, people feel less satisfied, both with the division of labor and with their relationship. This is especially true if they feel they are doing more than their fair share.

However, these effects were not seen in those who felt more appreciated.

The women, unsurprisingly, did more chores, but the researchers found no evidence that gender differences explained or significantly altered the buffering effects of appreciation in the mostly mixed couples in the sample, says Gordon. Moreover, while people who did not have outside jobs did more domestic work, the effects did not differ depending on whether or not participants worked outside the home.

The results also indicate that associations between perceived childcare and the financial allocation of labor and relationship satisfaction are weak or non-existent, and feeling appreciated does not moderate the effects, suggesting that domestic work may play a unique role in relationships.

Co-authors are from York University (Toronto), University of Michigan, Texas State University and City University of New York.

Source: University of Michigan

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