Spouses Doing Chores Are More Stressed Out
According to a new study, in houses where there are dual wake earners, the one who also does the housework is also more prone to have higher levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Researchers at the Southern University of California took a close look at how male and female spouses recover from a full day at work and especially at how couples balance their chores in order to feel better. What the researchers did was to follow 30 double-income households. They looked at couples whose median age was of 41 and who had at least once child between the age of eight and ten. According to the lead author of the study Dr. Darby Saxbe, a postdoctoral fellow in the USC Dornsife College Psychology Department, the results look kind of pessimistic when it comes to how marriages worked. “Your biological adaptation to stress looks healthier when your partner has to suffer the consequences – more housework for husbands, less leisure for wives,” Saxbe said. Saxbe went on saying that for both males and females who did the house work, the cortisol levels were very high, especially because they did not recover well from a long day at work and they also had to do some work around the house.
At the end of the day, doing house chores seems to reduce a person’s ability to recover from a day at work and it increases greatly the cortisol levels, thus making the stress even more unbearable. As you can imagine, for the wives, the cortisol levels were healthy when their partners did the house work. For husbands the things are quite different. If their partners had more free time, the men’s cortisol levels were healthier. This means that if they both spent a lot of time doing nothing, the husbands tended to feel better when it came to stress management. Saxbe said that how your partner spends his or her free time is important for you too. For those who do not know, high cortisol levels can do a lot of damage to the human body, especially because it affects the way we sleep, the way we eat and it can also affect our immune system in irreversible ways. Because of that, we should be more careful and try to distress ourselves when we can by taking a vacation or by simply spending some quality times with our families. Saxbe has also lead some studies regarding marital relationships and she got to the conclusion that women who were happy with their marriage had lower levels of cortisol, in contrast to women who said they were not very pleased (or that they were disappointed) with their marriage. In comparison, men’s view of the marriage had nothing to do with their cortisol levels. Saxbe concluded by saying that the quality of the relationship between two people has many things to say about their stress levels and that a fair division of house chores can do wonders and that is as important as eating your veggies.11