A few thoughts on dirty dishes, overgrown lawns and marital harmony

Oct. 5, 2012 at 2:02 PM ET

Anyone who’s ever lived with a person of the opposite sex knows that one key to household harmony is figuring out who cleans the toilet.

The big question: Who does clean the toilet?

This week, a Norwegian researcher shared with TODAY his research showing that divorce rates are actually higher among people who share those household chores equally.

Still, he cautioned that the correlation between housework and divorce shouldn’t be mistaken for causation. The researcher’s theory is that modern couples, and those in which women have more financial power, are more likely to share household chores. Those are also the type of couples who are more likely to divorce.

Here in the United States, it seems housework is still often women’s work.

Over the 17,000 people who took our poll on the subject, more than 50 percent said the woman in the house does more of the housework than the man.

Only about 12 percent said the man does more, while about 20 percent said they share it equally. The rest said they were single.


Many readers told us that the woman does more housework because she does less work outside the home, or makes less money at her job.

“My husband works outside the home and I am a (stay at home) mom. He helps when he can but I consider it my responsibility to do the household chores,” one reader wrote.

Another wrote: “My wife does more as she should since her income contribution is zero-to-1/5 during our marriage. She would hate for my income to drop.”

Many who share responsibilities equally defended the practice and derided the study’s findings.

“Married for 40 years. I do carpets and floors, she does laundry. We share as we have shared all of our lives. Til death do us part,” one reader said.

While we are quite happy for that couple, it’s clear that in many of our readers’ homes chores are a battle of the sexes. Many men complained that they have to do the housework and yard work, adding up to more total work. Meanwhile, many women complained that their spouses spend more time sitting on the couch than cleaning it -- or their husbands don’t understand how to clean well.

Happily, some readers also seemed to recognize that humor is key to a good marriage.

“I do a significant amount of the housework, but after reading this article I'm going to tell my wife that she has to do it all. It's for the sake of our marriage!” one reader joked.