Doing Dishes Is the Worst

Doing Dishes Is the Worst

This is now an empirically(emˈpirikəl) proven fact. Dishwashing causes more relationship distress(disˈtres) than any other household task.

By Caroline(-lin,ˈkarəˌlīn) Kitchener(ˈkiCH(ə)nər)

Every day, they slowly accumulate(əˈkyo͞omyəˌlāt). Plates(plāt) covered in sauces(sôs) and crumbs(krəm). Bowls(bōlz) with a fine layer of sticky(ˈstikē) who-knows-what. Forks(fôrk), knives(nī), and spoons all gummed(gəm) with bits of this and that. At the end of a long day of work, cooking, cleaning, and, for many, negotiating(nəˈgōSHēˌāt) with small children, a couple has to face the big question(ˈkwesCHən): Who is going to do the dishes?

A report from the Council(ˈkounsəl) of Contemporary(kənˈtempəˌrerē) Families (CCF), a nonprofit(ˈnänˈpräfit) that studies family dynamics(dīˈnamiks), suggests that the answer to that question can have a significant(sigˈnifikənt) impact on the health and longevity(län-,lônˈjevətē) of a relationship. The study examined(igˈzamən) a variety(vəˈrīətē) of different household tasks—including shopping, laundry(ˈlän-,ˌlôndrē), and housecleaning, and found that, for women in heterosexual(ˌhetərōˈsekSHo͞oəl) relationships, it’s more important to share the responsibility of doing the dishes than any other chore(CHôr). Women who wash the vast majority(-ˈjär-,məˈjôrətē) of the dishes themselves report more relationship conflict, less relationship satisfaction(ˌsatisˈfakSHən), and even worse sex, than women with partners who help. Women are happier about sharing dishwashing duties(ˈd(y)o͞otē) than they are about sharing any other household task.

What is it about dishes? Dan Carlson, an assistant(əˈsistənt) professor(prəˈfesər) of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah(-ˌtä,ˈyo͞oˌtô), and the lead author of the study, offers one possible reason: “Doing dishes is gross(grōs). There is old, moldy(ˈmōldē) food sitting in the sink. If you have kids, there is curdled(ˈkərdl) milk in sippy cups that smells disgusting(disˈgəstiNG).” Additionally(əˈdiSHənl-ē), unlike some other chores such as cooking or gardening, doing dishes well does not beget(biˈget) compliments, he observes(əbˈzərv): “What is there to say? ‘Oh, the silverware(ˈsilvərˌwer) is so … sparkly’?”