We live in an age of sexual equality supposedly. Or at least, in an age where equality is possible. In which case, the latest published research into the lives of Norwegian adults to establish possible links between marriage, housework and happiness, might just surprise you.

DIVORCE RATES HIGHER IN ‘EQUAL STATUS’ HOUSEHOLDS

The study entitled: “Equality in the Home”, found that the divorce rates among the 25 per cent of couples who shared the household chores equally, were 50 per cent higher than for the 71 per cent of couples where the woman did considerably more, or all of the housework. In addition, divorce rates were found to be significantly higher among the 4 per cent of couples where the man did the majority of the housework.

The Norwegian survey directly contradicts the findings of a similar survey across seven countries including the UK, which found that men who took on a bigger share of the domestic duties enjoyed a better work-life balance and reported a greater sense of wellbeing, than those who did little or nothing around the house.

MARRIAGE AS A CONTRACT?

And as Dr Frank Furedi, Sociology professor at the University of Canterbury, rightly points out, chore-sharing tends to be more prevalent among professional couples from middle-class backgrounds where divorce rates are recognised to be higher in any case.

Dr Furedi suggests that professional couples are more likely to introduce contractual-style arrangements (albeit unwritten ones) into their personal relationships as well as their working lives.  He says: “The more you organise your relationship, the more you work out diaries and schedules, the more it becomes a business relationship, rather than an intimate, loving, spontaneous one.”

And Relate counsellor, Paula Hall, also confirms that the Norwegian research contradicts other survey findings. She adds: “In my experience, arguments about housework are not about labour. They are about care and respect.”

THE DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC BLISS IS A VERY PERSONAL ONE

It’s important to note that in 7 out of 10 Norwegian couples, the woman still does the lion’s share of the household chores. What’s more, the vast majority of women surveyed stated they were content with this arrangement.

Regardless of what suits other people, the important thing is that your domestic set-up works for you.

This is a contentious topic certainly, and one on which you are sure to have your own opinion. It’s our guess we haven’t heard the last of this issue . . .

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