Is doing more housework the difference between a happy and unhappy marriage?
‘If men did the housework more…’
I finally had a quiet moment to sit down and catch up on The Age, Sunday Life magazine (a weekly ritual for me). Life Matters, was written by Kathy Lette last weekend. I’ll admit to having been a fan of Lette, many moons ago. This morning however, I found myself irritated by her crass, ill-informed perspective on relationships.
Some researchers believe the principal of ‘you scratch my back’ is what distinguishes good marriages. This myth suggests that when couples respond in kind to positive overtures from the other their relationship is more likely to be successful. A smile is met with a smile and if you believe Lette, a bloke’s more likely to get laid if he vacuums the entire house.
In essence the suggestion is an unwritten agreement exists and in happy marriages the couple offers recompense for each kind word or deed. In reality this quid pro quo principal exists in unhappy marriages, where couples maintain a daily score of who has done what for whom.
Love is not a rational bargain. Connection and belonging in relationships are essential to the human experience. In happy marriages the couple have learnt how to create closeness and security in their relationship. In happy marriages the couple have learnt how to ask their partner to help meet their needs in a soft, non-blaming way, their emotions are understood and responded to.
Yes, that means the housework gets done but because the couple understand and are attuned to each other’s emotions, not because they are keeping score.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly.
Gottman, J. (1999). The seven principals for making marriage work.
Kallos-Lilly, V. & Fitzgerald, J. (2014). An emotionally focused workbook for couples: The two of us.
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