In traditional, opposite-sex relationships, most women still do the vast majority of chores—regardless of how many hours they work or how much money they make. But for same-sex couples, where there isn't the traditional gender-based division of labor to fall back on, the chores are more often shared and divvied up according to personal preference. So finds a survey of 103 same-sex couples and 122 straight couples put out this week by the Families and Work Institute; all were dual-earner couples. Though NBC News reports same-sex couples didn't share an "overabundance" of chores, they did out-share their straight counterparts in a number of areas: In same-sex couples, 74% share child care, 62% share sick child care, 44% share laundry, and 33% share household repair. The corresponding figures for straight couples are 38%, 32%, 31%, and 15%.
So does that increased sharing lead to increased happiness regarding chores? Perhaps surprisingly, not hugely. "I probably went in with the bias that sharing is going to be better," acknowledges the diversity strategy leader for study-sponsor PwC. But on a scale where 5 is most satisfied, when it comes to the division of household responsibilities, gay men scored 4.18 and lesbians scored 3.99; straight men scored 4.02 and straight women 3.82. There was a happiness trigger, though: communication. Per the study, "When couples discussed what each one wants in terms of labor division, their overall happiness went up markedly, and when they did not, they were much more likely to be dissatisfied with their domestic workload." Study author Ken Matos highlights the finding. "That's probably the biggest takeaway of the survey," he tells the Washington Post. "How important it is to talk and say what you want. ... The people who said they bit their tongue had a lower satisfaction with division of household responsibilities." (Should women simply let things get dirty?)