Marriages thrive when dad chips in
Marital bliss doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but the chances of having it greatly improve may increase if two key components are involved. According to a study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Family Issues, when husbands and wives share child-rearing and household responsibilities, the marriage benefits. But of particular importance was fathers doing chores alongside their wives and spending quality time with their children.
Researchers surveyed 160 couples to determine how household work was divided and how these responsibilities affected the couples’ relationships. Most participants were between the ages of 25 and 30 years old, married for an average of five years and had at least one child age 5 years old or younger. About 40 percent of the women held full or part-time jobs.
Participants indicated which spouse was largely responsible, if both were responsible or if neither was responsible for completing 20 common household tasks. In terms of relationships with their children, dads rated their involvement with kids, and moms relayed how involved they believed their husbands to be with their children. Both spouses also rated their marriage happiness and how content they were with the division of household tasks.
“The more wives perceived that husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners,” said Adam Galovan, lead author on the study, in a statement.
“Wives in our study viewed father involvement and participation in household chores as related. Doing household chores and being engaged with the children seem to be important ways for husbands to connect with their wives, and that connection is related to better couple relationships,” said Galovan.
Father involvement was measured by play with kids, engaging in shared interests and taking part in teaching moments.
“Something as simple as reading a book with your children every night and talking with them about their day can really go a long way,” said Galovan.
The father-child bond also contributed to couples’ marital satisfaction, according to the research, and was particularly important to wives. “When wives felt their husbands were close to their children, both spouses reported better marriages,”said Galovan.
Galovan pointed out that it’s important for couples to realize that moving into parenthood requires a period of adjustment, and it’s normal for parents to feel stressed. To combat the stress, he recommended that husbands and wives make each other a priority.
“Find ways to connect throughout the day, even if it’s just doing dishes together or watching a movie,”said Galovan. “These simple connections in daily life seem to enhance couples’ marital satisfaction and improve the quality of their relationships.”
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