Housework Allocation, Negotiation Strategies, and Relationship Satisfaction in Cohabiting Emerging Adult Heterosexual Couples
The purpose of the current study was twofold; first, to examine the association between equity and equality by comparing heterosexual romantic partners’ distribution of time as a function of their perceptions of equity and second, to investigate the antecedents of the housework negotiation process, its dyadic nature, and its influence on relationship satisfaction. Data from 204 newly cohabiting Canadian heterosexual couples indicated that men and women perceived inequity to self and equity to self, respectively, when the distribution of time was equal at home, yet men spent more time on paid work or academics than their partners did. Moreover, men and women perceived equity to self and inequity to self, respectively, when women did the bulk of the housework and men spent more time on paid work or academics than their partners did. Results also revealed that women’s personal contribution is linked to their relationship satisfaction through self-use of equity-restoring strategies when their partners’ use of equity-resisting strategies is high. For men, the conditional indirect effect of personal contribution on relationship satisfaction was significant when their attempts to restore equity were met with low resistance from their partners. Overall, our results highlight gender differences that could help raise awareness around issues of housework inequality and inform the development of educational programs for romantic partners who face ongoing challenges of housework allocation.
KeywordsEquity Division of labor Negotiation strategies Relationship satisfaction Emerging adulthood Heterosexual couples
We thank Meghan Beaudin, Josée Boudreau, Jolène Doucet, Colombe Mazerolle, Karine Roy, Manon Vautour, and Mylène Richard for their assistance with data collection. The present research was supported by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
A certification of compliance with ethical principles was obtained from the research ethics board of the Université de Moncton. All procedures performed were in accordance with the approved protocol.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest associated with this publication.
- Canary, D. J., Emmers-Sommer, T. M., & Faulkner, S. (1997). Sex and gender differences in personal relationships. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Chethik, N. (2006). VoiceMale. What husbands really think about their marriages, their wives, sex, housework, and commitment. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc..Google Scholar
- Eldridge, K. A., Sevier, M., Jones, J., Atkins, D. C., & Christensen, A. (2007). Demand-withdraw communication in severely distressed, moderately distressed, and nondistressed couples: Rigidity and polarity during relationship and personal problem discussions. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 218–226. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3220.127.116.11.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics using SPSS (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications, Ltd..Google Scholar
- Gerson, K. (2010). The unfinished revolution: How a generation is reshaping family, work, and gender in America. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis. A regression-based approach (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Knudson-Martin, C., & Mahoney, A. (2009). Couples, gender, and power. In Creating change in intimate relationship. New York: Springer Publishing Company, LLC.Google Scholar
- Lachance-Grzela, M., & Bouchard, G. (2009). La cohabitation et le mariage, deux mondes à part? Un examen des caractéristiques démographiques, individuelles et relationnelles [Cohabitation and marriage, two worlds apart? A review of demographic, individual and relational characteristics]. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 41, 37–44. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mikula, G., Freudenthaler, H. H., Brennacher-Kröll, S., & Schiller-Brandl, R. (1997). Arrangements and rules of distribution of burdens and duties: The case of household chores. European Journal of Social Psychology, 27, 189–208. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199703)27:2<189::AID-EJSP814>3.0.CO;2-O.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mintz, S. G. (2002). Love, honor and value: A family caregiver speaks out about the choices and challenges of caregiving. Sterling: Capital Books, Inc.Google Scholar
- Mitnick, D. M., Heyman, R. E., Malik, J., & Slep, A. M. S. (2009). The differential association between change request qualities and resistance, problem resolution, and relationship satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 464–473. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015982.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Riforgiate, S. E., & Boren, J. P. (2015). “I just can’t clean the bathroom as well as you can!”: Communicating domestic labor task equity-resistance and equity-restoring strategies among married individuals. Journal of Family Communication, 15, 309–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2015.1076421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
- Uppal, S. (2015). Insights on Canadian society. Employment patterns of families with children. Statistics Canada Catologue no. 75-006-X. Ottawa, Ontario. 1–12.Google Scholar
- Walster, E., & Walster, W. G. (1975). Equity and social justice. Journal of Social Issues, 31, 21–43.Google Scholar