There are lots of things that can ruin a relationship. Cheating. Lying. Disapproving families. Having conflicting values. Wanting different things in life. Long distance with no end at all in sight. Jobs that leave no room for a personal life. Baggage from a previous relationship. Jealousy. OK, so those are the ones we've all heard of, but a new study finds that even the most unsuspecting things can ruin a relationship. In fact, the study found that a task as simple as doing the dishes might ruin your relationship — especially if you're a woman.
The current study looked into how different household chores affected relationships, and as a result, the researchers found that the worst chore of all, in terms of a relationship, is doing the dishes. That's right, people. Dishes are officially more detrimental to your relationship than any other stinky household chore, from doing the laundry to vacuuming the floors.
There's one key point here that we need to focus on. The Council of Contemporary Families, which conducted the study, found that doing the dishes only really becomes a big issue within the confines of a heterosexual relationship if the woman is the one doing them most of the time.
While women who reported that their male partners actually helped out with the dishes also happened to be more satisfied with their relationships, women whose partners didn't help them with the dishes also happened to be — you guessed it — less satisfied. Not only were these women simply "less satisfied" with their relationships in general but they also were found to have more conflict and less sex than couples who split dish duty.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not all that shocked about this finding. Yes, having to do the dishes seems minuscule compared to being cheated on or lied to, but I can understand why it could build feelings of resentment within a relationship. If my boyfriend and I moved in together and, suddenly, every time we had a meal, I found myself feeling like a 1950s housewife in the kitchen alone washing both of our dishes, I would inevitably become resentful.
But that's just me. The study also looked into some more research-based explanations as to why this causes such an issue. The researchers' first explanation is pretty simple and understandable: Dishes are gross, and most people aren't ever really dying to get in there and scrub off that almost-moldy stir fry. The second reason they cited for this phenomenon is that doing the dishes is an under-appreciated task. In other words, you don't get a compliment like you would for doing another household chore, like cooking. Finally, the third reason draws upon the fact that doing the dishes is a form of cleaning and thus plays into the sexist stereotype that women should be picking up after their husband and children, while men take care of the more "manly" household chores like mowing the lawn.
According to Esquire, Dan Carlson, the study's lead author, explained that this last reason can lead to resentment on a woman's end... sort of like the kind of resentment I said I'd feel earlier.
OK so it's confirmed that having the woman in the relationship consistently doing the dishes can definitely pose as an unexpected challenge to the couple's happiness, but the good news is this is happening less and less. The report also noted that between 1999 and 2006, the number of couples who share the responsibility of doing the dishes rose from 16 percent to 29 percent. Not great, but still a change in the right direction.
If you want to do one simple thing to make your relationship happier this year, split dish duty. The study found that couples who either had a deal as to who would cook and who would clean or couples who decided to evenly split dish duty were the happiest overall.
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