Housework Allocation, Negotiation Strategies, and Relationship Satisfaction in Cohabiting Emerging Adult Heterosexual Couples

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Andréanne Charbonneau or Mylène Lachance-Grzela.

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Charbonneau, A., Lachance-Grzela, M. & Bouchard, G. Housework Allocation, Negotiation Strategies, and Relationship Satisfaction in Cohabiting Emerging Adult Heterosexual Couples. Sex Roles 81, 290–305 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0998-1

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Keywords

  • Equity
  • Division of labor
  • Negotiation strategies
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Heterosexual couples