Healthy Marriage

Kennan Scott is a 34-year-old husband and father of a lively 3-year-old, living in Oakland, California.

Every weekday, he wakes up at 5:20 a.m. By the time he gets to work at 9 a.m. in San Francisco, he’ll iron his clothes, walk and feed the dog, drop his wife off at work, play with his son at a playground until his daycare opens, drive back to his wife’s work to drop off the car, and take the bus to work in the city.

After work, he and his wife, Karen, split the rest of the day’s duties: carpooling; caring for the dog; making dinner; and, most importantly; playing with, bathing, and putting their son, Coltrane, to bed. 

A new study from the University of Missouri at Columbia says that this kind of duty-sharing at home makes for happier couples.

Adam Galovan, a doctoral student in the University of Missouri Department of Human Development and Family Studies, along with his Brigham Young University and Utah State University colleagues, surveyed 160 heterosexual couples about sharing household and parental duties and how it affected their relationships. The couples were married an average of five years and all had one child younger than 5. 

“The more wives perceived that husbands were engaged in routine family work tasks, the better the relationships were for both partners,” Galovan said in a press release. “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.”

Scott couldn’t agree more. 

“Any stress you can take off your spouse is a bonus. It doesn't matter where. Do what you do best; if it's vacuuming and watching the kid while Momma does something, that's great,” he said. “Guys aren't always the best at housework, but we are good at executing when told. Think of your 'daddy-do list' as a 'daddy-get some list!'”

Galovan's study was published in the Journal of Family Issues.

Tips for Stepdads

Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) also recently analyzed data from 1,088 children in stepfamilies and found that major problems can arise when a stepdad disrupts a family’s order by assuming too much parental responsibility too fast. 

In their research, they found that the following three traits make stepfamilies run more smoothly:

  • There are few arguments between the parents.
  • Children feel comfortable sharing frustrations about their stepdads with their mothers.
  • The adults agree to employ similar parenting styles.

“Family roles can be negotiated, and there is going to be some bumpiness,” said lead researcher Kevin Shafer, a professor in BYU's School of Social Work. “The notion that couples should put the couple first and everything else will fall into place is false.”

The BYU study was published in the journal Social Work.

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