Recent research by cleaning brand, method, has highlighted a wealth of problematic findings which reveal long-standing gender stereotypes in cleaning, and relationship-ending domestic disputes. In fact, for more than 38% of cohabiting couples, household chores account for most of their arguments and more than 1 in 2 (59%) said such domestic disputes either have, or have the potential to lead to the complete breakdown of the relationship.
Lawrence Stephens is supporting method in its ambition to ‘bring joy to the chore wars’, particularly in light of the inequalities revealed. It seems gender stereotypes still exist in cleaning, with the majority of women (54%) still doing the majority of the housework. Widening the gender ‘spray gap’, another 45% of women who cohabit with a male partner say household tasks are disproportionately split – compared to just over a third (34%) of men. The imbalance is reported by almost two fifths (39%) of women to have been more prolific during the pandemic, and that it has not rebalanced since adapting to post-lockdown life.
It’s not just male/female couples experiencing domestic disruption. 41% of same sex cohabiting couples say there is a notable imbalance in how their housework is split too. The domestic disparity doesn’t stop at the actual workload either; as those who do the lion’s share of the housework report that when their partner does complete a task – half of them (45%) expect to be praised or thanked for it. What’s more, over a quarter (26%) believe they are doing ‘a favour and 17% believe they are ‘helping out’.
A third (33%) of cohabiting couples actually admitted that if they’d been made fully aware of the division of housework prior to living together, they may well have reconsidered taking that next step in the relationship.
The top 10 most common household arguments amongst cohabiting couples are:
Raphaela Kohs, Solicitor at Lawrence Stephens, said: “Whilst cleaning and housework may appear like trivial things to argue about on the surface, they represent something much bigger – inequality. The simplest way to solve issues and avoid conflict arising is by addressing these issues when you begin cohabiting and by fairly and transparently divvying out domestic duties.”
The Clean Up Pre-nup means that each signing party will have mutually decided set tasks, roles and responsibilities within the home to ensure an equal splitting, so no one party is taking a larger majority. To encourage people to adhere to the terms, each party must mark off completed tasks on a weekly rota.
But whilst 24% feel frustrated by the inequality, it’s not because they don’t enjoy cleaning. More than two fifths say it has a positive impact on their mental health (41%) or they enjoy it as a form of exercise (42%). Over one in 10 find cleaning a form of meditation (11%). For 41%, the frustration comes from it being a matter of fairness.
The ‘Clean Up Pre-nup’, which is not only relevant to cohabiting romantic couples, but also for flat shares, families and friends, can be customised and downloaded for free from the method website.