Marriage benefits when fathers involved with kids and chores, BYU study says

By David Self Newlin | Posted - Apr 10th, 2013 @ 8:31pm



PROVO — Marriage is difficult and full of work and compromise. Or so your humble — and single — correspondent has been told by folks who actually know what they're talking about.

There's apparently no secret to maintaining a good marriage, but research out of BYU, USU and the University of Missouri may have some help to contribute.

Husbands: Share more housework and develop a better relationship with your kids.

At least that's what a small study focusing on 160 couples suggests. BYU Assistnat Professor Erin Holmes and her former graduate student Adam Galovan had couples take surveys about marriage quality, father involvement and the father's relationship with his kids. In doing so they combined metrics that had not been combined before, like how the division of labor relates to the relationship a father has with his kids.

"We wanted to find out not just how much men participated in the more traditional family work tasks like doing the dishes, but we also wanted to find out about husbands and wives perceptions of men's involvement with their children," Holmes said.

What they found perhaps confirms what many always knew. Women in the study reported higher marriage quality and higher satisfaction with the division of labor when men were involved not only with household chores, but also had involvement with child rearing and had a good relationship with their children.

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In particular, women saw child involvement and household chores as related, and were more satisfied with things when husbands were doing both, Holmes said.

The best predictor of marital quality for men was how much involvement they had with their kids. The second, interestingly, was the perception that wives had of husband's relationship with their children, Holmes said.

In other words, men were happier with their marriages when wives approved of the relationship husbands had with their kids.

The couples involved with the study, all heterosexual, had been married for an average of five years and had at least one child under five years old. Most were between 25 and 30. 40 percent of the women had full-or part time jobs as well.

Holmes said the study is limited in scope, since it doesn't represent a national sample of couples, but said it could have some practical implications for young married couples.

"I think this study would suggest that it's possible that if men get involved with their kids, try to develop good relationships with their kids, it's going to help them and their wives feel more satisfied with the division of labor and help them and their wives feel better about the quality of their marriage," she said.

Your correspondent, at least, has taken note.

The study was co-authored by Holmes and Galovan and will be published in the Journal of Family Issues. Galovan is now a researcher at the University of Missouri.

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