A new Swedish study has found that housework can be destructive to a relationship.

And you may be surprised to find out why.

It’s not just because one person has to wash and the other dries, but because inequities in the division of chores can speak volumes about equality within the relationship itself.

Researchers found that by age 42, women had significantly higher levels of “psychological distress” — such as restlessness, concentration problems and anxiety — than men had, even though the distress levels among both genders was about equal 20 years prior.

Seems that for women, an uneven distribution of domestic work was somewhat to blame, but a sense of gender inequality was an even bigger culprit. The distress risk vanished among ladies who said they were on an equal footing with their partners — even if those women did most of the housework.

“It is not the work per se,” said Washington, DC psychologist Jill Weber. “It’s the feeling that the woman is not getting support from her partner. Inequality often translates as a lack of emotional support.”

So what caused distress in men? Being in a lower socioeconomic position than their partners. “In general, men who earn less than their wives or who are out of work don’t feel respected, and respect is a hot-button issue for men,” Weber said.


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