It may not seem like a big deal when your partner makes the bed and mistakenly puts the pillows that are clearly decorative shams behind the plain white ones you sleep on. After all, he's making an effort to help out around the house, and you can just rearrange them when he leaves the room, right?
That may depend on how long it takes you to rearrange those pillows. A new study by the UK based supermarket chain Sainsbury's has found that women spend three hours per week re-doing chores for their significant others.
The company polled 2,000 women and found that the most common tasks not performed to a woman's liking were laundry, vacuuming and wiping down surfaces, the Daily Mail reported.
In one sense, the results aren't surprising. Recent data shows men are taking on more domestic duties in U.S. households, and the UK study did reflect that trend: Women in four out of ten households said they split chores evenly.
If men are doing more around the house, they're creating more opportunities to do chores in ways their spouses don't approve, although two thirds of the women did say they thought their partners were trying to do their chores correctly. They didn't think the men's shortcomings were due to lack of trying.
But the questions remains, what's the point in men helping out more at home if women end up doing most of the work anyway?
The answer depends in part on why women are doing more of that work. It's possible, as the Daily Mail argues, that women suffer from "If you want something done right, do it yourself," mantra.
"Although it's impossible for women to do everything themselves, they still have high hopes for perfection -- and if jobs aren’t done to the desired standard by their partner, often many feel they could do better themselves," a spokesman for the Sainsbury's told the Daily Mail.
A recent survey of 3,200 women by Real Simple seemed to back up this assertion: the magazine collaborated with Families and Work Institute and found that women spend more "free time" doing chores and tending to children than men do largely because they have trouble delegating tasks and relinquishing control to someone else.
As Ruth Davis Konigsberg pointed out in Time magazine last summer, the chore wars aren't cut and dry as "I do more" and "He does less" anymore. The gap between the paid and unpaid work that men and women do is getting smaller.
"The gender inequity that persists, then, is in access to high-quality leisure time, which, for whatever reasons, men seem more able to claim — and protect from contamination — than women," Konigsberg wrote.
The Sainsbury's study suggests both the perfection-problem and having trouble letting go of control might be at play in women doing more household work. After all, half of the women in the survey said they wouldn't even bother telling their partner he'd done the chores poorly, which could help them avoid having to re-do those chores in the future.
On the flip side, it's possible some women might actually want to have a stronger domestic role than the men in their lives. As Liza Mundy, author of 'The Richer Sex' told NPR earlier this week, women are increasingly supplanting their husbands as the breadwinners, but they don't always like the way their husbands fill the traditionally female domestic role.
"I interviewed one woman who said, much to her surprise, 'My feelings changed, and I found myself respecting him less as a man. He was a great dad and certainly doing the housework. That wasn't a problem. But there was something in me that I hadn't expected. I felt differently,'" Mundy said.
So if fixing the pillows on the bed is something you actually enjoy doing, or if you can't stand the thought of them being out of order and you want to do it yourself, then by all means, carry on. But remember those little jobs add up. And if those three hours sound like ones you'd rather spend doing something else, then either decide that the pillows don't have to be perfectly arranged, or sit down with your partner and give a brief tutorial on shams.
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