The professionals who study relationships have known for a long time that the division of chores in a household impacts relationship satisfaction… and that there is a direct correlation between chores and a couple’s sex life. In fact, there is a very specific correlation – the happier women are with the way housework is divided, the happier their husband’s are with their sex lives. Conversely, men whose wives are unhappy with the division of household labor are more likely to have thought about divorce, and more than twice as likely, in one survey, to report being cheated on.
And now the Council of Contemporary Families reports that for women, sharing responsibility for dishwashing is the biggest single source of satisfaction for any household task. And – you guessed it – not sharing that chore was the biggest chore-based source of dissatisfaction.
Chore distribution in ADHD-impacted relationships is a big deal. Non-ADHD partners often take on too many responsibilities as a way to compensate for their partner’s lack of organizational skills, planning and follow through. But taking on so much leads to resentment and, eventually, chronic anger.
So, after yet another session in which I raked my husband over the coals for not doing ANYTHING around the house (which, actually, was a pretty accurate statement) he asked, exasperated “So, what do you want me to do?” I didn’t even have to think about it – “The dishes!”
What is it about the dishes?!
I’ll tell you. First, I hate doing dishes. It is the singly most relentless task in your adult life. And, when you have a family, there are LOTS of dishes. Second, I’m the primary cook in our household. After spending more than an hour pulling dinner together, every single night, I am ready to relax, eat, spend time with my family and…relax some more. Dishes interfere with that plan in a big way. Third, I strongly dislike unloading the dishwasher. Perhaps because it is a reminder of how relentless a chore doing the dishes is. Fourth, everybody in the house creates dirty dishes…but then seems to think it’s my responsibility to clean them up. What am I? The house elf? Lots of resentment around that one.
But there was something else that was important, too. For me, having my husband take on a chore I so despised was symbolic – it translated pretty directly into “I care about you enough to relieve some of the drudgery of your life.” Immediately I felt more cared for…and more affectionate. Which just goes to show you – sometimes the research really does get it right!