A husband in his forties, very busy at work, takes his wife of about ten years, to court, asking the judge to hold her exclusively responsible for the failure of the marriage. What is the reason? Basically, it is the fact that the woman didn't take care of the housework, because she - according to him - didn't iron, didn't wash, didn't cook. It happened in Italy, where the judge, however, proved the man wrong by pointing out that it is not only up to one of the spouses to do the housework, but to all members of the family, so even to the children, in view of a responsible education.
The case brings to the attention the importance of the organization of the management of the house that could become a source of great contrasts, or turn out to be the mirror of that understanding, coherence, and harmony that make a couple happy.
Having overcome the discourse on gender stereotypes, the issue at stake is another, and has to do with the care of the family, which inevitably also includes 'housekeeping', because that's what it's all about: planning, organization, implementation of tasks, activities, services, rendered for the good of all those who live together, sharing not only the space, but life, in general.
Household chores: what the research says
A study by the UK Government Equalities Office in January 2021 found that men and women are increasingly sharing care responsibilities, partly to cope with women's increased professional workloads. Research over the past two decades has highlighted the benefits of greater involvement of fathers in caring for their children, with a range of positive effects for children, from emotional, psychological and educational development to spillovers into their future careers. In addition, the British research, referencing various statistics, has reported favorable outcomes on family relationships such as reduced separations and divorces when there is a fair sharing of family caregiving duties.
In a recent conference of the Home Renaissance Foundation - an international research center that promotes greater recognition of work starting from the creation of healthy and congenial home environments - it was highlighted how care for the person is the essential condition for relationships, for the happiness of people, inside and outside the home.
In short, one of the secrets of a good couple's life seems to be precisely the sharing of family responsibilities. When this does not happen, misunderstandings and situations of conflict could increase, determined by feeling the weight of the entire management of the family. On the other hand, a relationship in which there is actual solidarity makes people feel appreciated, respected and, in this way, the potential for conflict and dissatisfaction is significantly reduced. On the contrary, the lack of division of household chores can undermine the 'partnership' of the marriage, even to the point of determining its ruin, as we have seen in the case of the separation of the Italian couple.
Rather than being a series of simple instrumental tasks, chores to be done, dishes to be washed and beds to be made, domestic work is above all a complex set of interpersonal exchanges, a reciprocal gift, it is availability and service, which enable family members to achieve solidarity and joy, maturing that strength and cohesion which should then enable them to withstand even the occasional dirty dish, unmade bed and a few extra grains of dust on the bedside table.