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Household Chores Can Make or Break a Marriage

It’s an argument as old as marriage: Who helps out most with household chores? In a recent survey, more than half of married couples in the United States said sharing household chores is “very important” to a successful marriage. But when it comes to grocery shopping and cooking, women tend to say they’re the ones usually doing the work, according to a time-use survey sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In U.S. households consisting of parents and one or more children under the age of 18, 80% of mothers say they are the household member who usually prepares the meals – the same as the share who say they are the primary grocery shopper, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. Some 71% of moms say they primarily handle both household chores.

This compares with about two-in-ten fathers in this type of household who say they are the person who usually prepares the meals (19%) or grocery shops (20%). About one-in-ten (11%) say they are the one who usually does both tasks.

In households with no children, men and women fill less of their time with these household chores – but women still report spending more time in the kitchen. Overall, women spend 52 minutes a day on meal prep, vs. 22 minutes for men.

We’ve heard from many wives who say they want their husband to help out more around the house, but they also don’t want to nag about it.

This issue of nagging is really important. Women, understand that your man wants—yes, even needs—to hear respect and to know that he’s loved and he’s doing okay. He doesn’t want to hear his mom’s voice from you. Men, understand that your wives need to hear from you the same thing—that they’re doing okay, meeting your needs, pleasing you.

Your home is a reflection on you. Now that you’re blending two upbringings, two lifestyles, two ways of doing things (make the bed or don’t make it?), you’re bound to experience some friction. So how can you communicate how you feel without becoming a nag?

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Our encouragement is to understand that nagging comes off as critical. Spouses need to be more creative than critical. Think of ways to get the job done together. Use it as a connecting time. Turn the hot spot into a positive time. Talk to each other. Be honest about why it’s so important to you that the garage be cleaned—and then set aside a day to do it together with a reward at the end of dinner and a movie. Seek to lighten each other’s loads and then willingly follow through because you love your spouse so much!

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It’s available in our online bookstore!