Studies have shown that women are more likely to initiate a divorce than men, but women and men initiate breakups in non-marital relationships at about the same rate.
Simply put, women want out of their marriages, but not necessarily out of their live-in or long-term relationships, more often than men.
But aren’t women the ones who dream of fairytale weddings and that happily ever after? Aren’t women longing for a family and security? Aren’t women traditionally the ones looking forward to marriage?
Why, then, would women be more eager to bail on marriage than they would be to leave a man they were just living with?
While social scientists and researchers debate the reasons for women’s apparent willingness to leave their marriages, Columbia University Professor Heidi Grant Halvorson thinks she has an answer: Housework.
According to Professor Halvorson, “the division of chores is a major source of happiness and unhappiness in marriages and those (chores) predominantly go to women even when women work as long as men do.”
The logical next question, of course, is what to do about it? If hiring a full-time maid isn’t in your budget, how is a man supposed to keep his wife happy?
Here are five things husbands can do around the house that will make their wives want to stay married:
1. Pick up their clothes
Seriously! They’re on the floor, just two feet away from the clothes hamper.
It feels disrespectful if someone always experts their spouse to pick up after them while they continue to make even more of a mess.
2. Help her with the dishes
… or the laundry, or anything else that keeps the house reasonably clean and in good order.
If you do, your wife will be that much less exhausted at the end of the evening and that much more interested in pursuing some “extracurricular activities” in the bedroom later that night.
3. Go to the grocery store a few times
Yes, your wife knows you hate it. She knows you’re tired and that you don’t feel like picking up milk and bread on your way home. But if you don’t get them, she will have to do it.
That means she will be more tired and have less time in the evening for you. (See tip No. 2 if you have any doubt about what that means).
4. Put the dirty dishes in the sink
It’s OK if you want to snack on something while you’re on the couch (or in bed even).
Just put your dishes in the sink when you’re done, and an occasional turn as dishwasher would be appreciated as well.
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5. Don’t walk away when everything is ‘fine’
If your gut is telling you something is up with your wife, and you ask how she’s doing and she says, “fine,” dig deeper! Fine does not always mean OK.
It might mean she’s crabby and exhausted and desperately needs you to see that and to show you care. Watch what she is doing and help her, talk to her, hold her, something.
That little amount of extra care goes a long way.
Will helping with the housework automatically guarantee marital bliss? Probably not. But, if you’re willing to commission a study to find out for sure, I’d be willing to volunteer my house for that research!
Karen Covy is a divorce coach, published author, and a recovering divorce lawyer. She’s spent decades helping divorcing people understand, get ready for, and manage their divorces.