Men Lend a Hand, Save a Marriage

A British study of 3,500 British couples published recently suggests that couples where the man helps out with housework, shopping and childcare have lower divorce rates.

“Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce,” which was published by the London School of Economics (LSE), found that the more husbands helped out, the lower the incidence of divorce.

The research said its conclusions undermined the theory running since the 1960s that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework. The study concluded that “[t]he lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and childcare.”

Researcher Wendy Sigle-Rushton said while economists have spent much time examining and trying to explain the link between women going to work and divorce rates, “they have paid very little attention to the behavior of men. This research… suggests that fathers’ contribution to unpaid work at home stabilizes marriage regardless of mothers’ employment status.”

The study analyzed married couples that had their first child in 1970, a time when most mothers of young children stayed at home. “The results suggest that the risk of divorce among working mothers, while greater, is substantially reduced when fathers contribute more to housework and childcare,” she said.

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