It seems it’s not enough for couples to relax together at the end of the day for them to be happy and healthy. According to a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, men find it easier to chill if their wives are still busy, while women prefer hands on help from their men!
Neither sex it seems is happy. The results paint a pretty pessimistic picture of marriage, relationships and gender equality. Researchers from the USC Psychology Department learned that the actions of one spouse can affect the stress levels of the partner.
By measuring cortisol levels as a marker of stress, they found that womens’ stress levels improve if their husbands chip in with the housework. In contrast, husbands were less stressed when they had more leisure time … but only if their wives spent less time in leisure.
Observers monitored husbands and wives and recorded >5,000 unique entries about their activities. The descriptions were then classified under 13 different categories, which include housework, leisure, child care, personal time, paid work at home and communication. The results confirmed that wives were generally doing twice as much housework as husbands and that husbands had more leisure time.
Lead author, Darby Saxbe noted, “Your biological adaptation to stress looks healthier when your partner has to suffer the consequences. The result shows that the way couples spend time at home – not just the way you spend time, but the way your partner spends time as well – has real implications for long-term health.”
Cortisol levels can affect sleep, weight gain, burnout and weakened immune resistance.
One of Saxbe’s earlier studies focused on marital relationships, stress and work. Her research found that more happily married women showed healthier cortisol patterns, while women who reported marital dissatisfaction had flatter cortisol profiles, which have been associated with chronic stress. Men’s marital satisfaction ratings, on the other hand, weren’t connected to their cortisol patterns.
SRxA’s Word on Health adds, “Amen to that!!!”