Whose turn is it to take the trash out?

Whose turn is it to take the trash out?

You do the cleaning, the cooking, the family gift-buying and most of the child care. He mows the lawn and pays the bills.

Sound like a marriage made in heaven?

Researchers at the University of Illinois and St. Mary's College of Maryland took a look at how newlyweds view the division of labor around the home — both in the abstract and how it actually plays out in their daily lives — and how marital happiness is affected when a husband and wife don't exactly believe and act the same way about sharing home chores.

Here are three things they learned:

1 Wives who value an equal sharing of household work were happier if their husbands shared their views, but for wives with more traditional views on dividing up the chores it didn't necessarily matter whether their husbands shared their views or not.

2 For husbands, marriage satisfaction wasn't linked to sharing beliefs with their wives on how work is divided.

3 For couples with children, the more equitable the division of labor, the happier the wives tended to be.

The study's principal author, UI professor of human and community development Brian Ogolsky, studies romantic relationships and what is needed to keep them in good health.

Taking part in the research were 220 newlywed couples (average ages 26 for the wives and 27 for the husbands) who had been married for up to two years, with all the couples being heterosexual because the data was collected before Illinois allowed gay marriages, he said.

Why it doesn't seem to matter to men the way it does to women when there's a discrepancy in beliefs about who does how much work at home? It may have something to do with a lingering bias toward working women taking on the so-called "second shift" of work at home — even for young adults in their 20s — Ogolsky says.

"There still does seem to be a bias toward women accepting the second shift, whereas men don't necessarily assume the same thing," he said.

Ogolsky's best advice for couples is to talk and get a clear understanding about where each partner stands on equality and division of labor before they enter the marriage to avoid big surprises and disillusionment after the honeymoon ends.

"I know that sounds a little glib, but I don't think it can be understated," he adds.

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