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Love and marriage equals more housework

Submitted by on Thursday, 14 May 2009 No Comment

From the file of statistics with no obvious explanation:

The average single woman and the average single man spend 20 hours combined doing housework. But once the “I do’s” are done, that total balloons to a combined 27. Add children to the mix and it’s up to 38.

Three guesses how the load is divided in each case, and I’ll go ahead and rule out the “50-50″ option for you.

According to a recent national study by the University of Michigan Institute of Social Research, it’s the woman.

The split is 19 hours her, eight him for couples without children, 28 hours her, 10 him for couples with.

The news release about the research starts with the provocative proposition that merely having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for a woman. As one who’s spent years griping about having to chase laundry all over the house before I can even begin washing it, I’ll buy that.

But socks aside, how on Earth does a married household manage to create that extra seven hours a week to begin with? Shouldn’t economies of scale come into play somewhere? Even if you move from a small single-girl studio to a McMansion, it’s hard to imagine that the extra space requires the equivalent of an extra shift a week spent cleaning.

Granted, my trip down the aisle did bring some lifestyle changes.

I suppose you could count the twice-yearly shift of seasonal clothes, necessary because Dad had the nerve to beg to crowd a few paltry shirts and jeans into my walk-in closet, as added cleaning.

And cooking dinner instead of pouring salsa into a bowl and chips onto a plate added work as well. Come to think of it, that probably accounts for the full seven-hour addition. An hour a day spent cooking instead of gorging on junk adds up.

In defense of men, it’s not that they’re doing less work after they’re married. Their loads actually stay about the same, and they’re doing considerably more than they were 30 years ago, according to the research. They’re still not picking up the pace as much when kids come along, though.

And also in defense of men, the daily activity diaries researchers used to base the findings on didn’t include tasks I would guess are more often the male domain – washing cars, home repair and gardening.

I tend to view those as optional, too. Beyond enough minor yard work to fend off the neighborhood gadfly who gripes about everything, I just don’t care about those things.

Dad and I, in fact, once had a spirited discussion about how much I didn’t care when he insisted that washing my car was equal to me doing all the laundry.

Oh no, it’s not, I contended. I can drive a dirty car to work. Can you go to work naked?

He helped fold the clothes.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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