Men Relax More When Their Wives Are Doing Chores (Seriously)


Today in stereotype-reinforcing studies, we get this: Guess what? The stress levels of married women drop when their husbands help them with chores. But married men relax most when their wives are busy doing things besides relaxing. Hm! And we wonder why women seem to be less interested in getting hitched these days. This particular study measured the stress hormones, or cortisol, of 30 dual-earning, middle-aged L.A. couples, each whom had at least one kid between the ages of 8 and 10.

The results:

For both sexes, doing more housework kept cortisol levels higher at the end of the day. But for women, healthier cortisol levels resulted when their husbands spent more time pitching in on housework. For husbands, more leisure time was linked with healthier cortisol when their wives spent more time doing house-related work and less time in leisure.

Related: Men tend to come home from work, retire to a room alone, and relax. Women tend to come home and take care of the kids, or, when alone, do housework (all the while, one can surmise, dealing with increased stress levels of their own as they think about their husband in the other room chilling and watching TV). For your next study, dear scientists: Please investigate the increase in men’s stress levels after their wives start yelling at them about how they’ve just sat on their ass all night while being cooked for and cleaned up after. (Dudes, if this is you, help out a little, huh?)

Statistically, married women tend to do the lions’ share of the housework, “twice as much housework as husbands,” in fact. It will be interesting to see whether this continues with the up-and-coming new generation of couples, who may not be as accepting of traditional divisions of “labor” — and who may not even get married in the first place, content to do their own housework, and relaxing, if and when they want to, without the stress-influence of another.

Men relax best when wives are busy [USA Today]