The Chicago Family Law Blog

Divorce-Probability Study: It's the Woman's Job to Cook and Clean

An interesting study confirms what many men of older generations have always maintained: The woman should be the one in the kitchen. That's because a gender-equal couple risks a much higher probability of divorce.

The study found that in "modern" relationships, in which household chores are split approximately 50/50, the divorce rate was about 50 percent higher than for relationships in which the woman handled the majority of the chores.

The study, however, was conducted in Norway. It's not clear how the results would translate with regard to American couples.

Of course, the findings by the Norwegian Social Research institute weren't all pro-caveman. The researchers claimed there was no cause and effect in the findings. Instead, the type of modern relationships where equality was the norm had a higher correlation with other modern attitudes, such as a perception of marriage as being less sacred.

Also, in these same couples, women tended to be more financially independent and educated, which facilitated the splitting of unhappy couplings.

For seven out of 10 couples in Norway, the task of child-rearing is shared equally between both men and women, while housework is done mostly by the women. In those households, women reported much higher happiness than their "modern" equal-duty counterparts who pursue higher education and work outside the home.

So, is this simply a case of "ignorance is bliss"? Are the women who are less educated and perform more housework simply happier because they don't know any better? Or, as the researcher behind the study suggested, are they happier because the clearly defined gender roles reduce quarrels over duties and whether each partner is pulling his or her weight?

Though resorting to an old-fashioned "woman in the kitchen" style of a relationship is certainly one option for marital bliss, it is not the only way to enter into a marriage with defined roles. One increasingly popular strategy is a prenuptial agreement that clearly defines each party's role and duties in the marriage. Perhaps a marital contract is a better idea than marital servitude.

Related Resources: