Brian G. Ogolsky, a University of Illinois professor of human development and family studies, said newlyweds need to thoughtfully plan how they can make their expectations about sharing chores work out in real life, especially if the new spouses strongly value gender equality in household labor, adding that this issue will only matter more after children start arriving.
The way that couples negotiate the division of household chores in the first two years of marriage is important because, once patterns are established, they persist over time and can lead to increased conflict and decreased happiness in the marriage for years to come, he said.
The study examined the beliefs, behaviors, and marital quality of 220 heterosexual newlywed couples and found that dividing household tasks affected the marital satisfaction of wives but not of husbands. When wives valued equal sharing of housework, they were significantly happier if their husband shared those beliefs.
When couples divided household tasks in traditional ways, close matches in belief and behavior didn't seem to affect marital satisfaction as much, he said.