The research by the London School of Economics (LSE), entitled "Men's Unpaid Work and Divorce", found that the more husbands helped out, the lower the incidence of divorce.
The study said its conclusions blew open the theory running since the 1960s that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework.
"The lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and childcare," the study found.
Researcher Wendy Sigle-Rushton said economists have spent much time examining and trying to explain the link between women going to work and divorce rates.
"However, in doing so, they have paid very little attention to the behaviour of men. This research... suggests that fathers' contribution to unpaid work at home stabilises marriage regardless of mothers' employment status," she said.
The study analysed married couples who 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.