Finally some research that helps support all those women who have had to nag their husbands to get up off the couch and help with the housework. Scientists have found that women’s health and happiness depends heavily on whether or not her husband or partner helps with the housework.
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers studied the daily activities of 30 working couples in Los Angeles during a period of one week. The levels of the stress hormone cortisol was tracked in each couple. This hormone is at it’s peak during the day as it helps the body cope with physical and mental challenges, and in the evening, it usually decreases when the day’s activities slow down.
Unfortunately some people have unusually high cortisol levels and some even have levels that don’t fall at the end of the day. These people not only feel stressed, but they are susceptible to a variety of physical and mental illnesses. Studies have even indicated that they are prone to die at a younger age. This is why researchers thought that linking cortisol levels with evening activities of married parents would uncover a lot about how domestic routines influence health and happiness.
All the couples studied had at least one child living at home that was between the age of 8 and 10 and the median age of the parents was 41. On average, the women spent 30 percent of their nights doing housework and around 11 percent on relaxing activities. In contrast, the men spent 20 percent of their time doing housework and around 19 percent on leisure.
Not surprisingly, the scientists from University of Southern California, the University of Los Angeles and Connecticut College, discovered that spending too much time on chores in the evening tended to keep cortisol levels high in husbands and wives. Also, when they looked at the study more carefully they noticed that the cortisol levels of married women decreased more when their husbands helped with the housework. On the other hand, the dad’s cortisol wasn’t likely to drop unless they spent more time relaxing in the evening while their wives kept busy with chores.
The researchers wrote in the Journal of Family Psychology that “arguments about who’s doing the dishes and who’s flipping through channels have repercussions for the health of both spouses.” Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, an Ohio State University psychologist, says that this is especially true for working moms. She studies the effect of relationships on immune function.