Check out this brilliant article in the LA Times about men, women and housework:
"Men, it's your health and happiness or hers. Women, it's your health and happiness or his. At the end of the day, if there's housework to be done (and there's always housework to be done) and you’re both employed (as almost 52% of married couples with children younger than 6 are), there's only one winner.
Grim, yes. But that is the finding of a study published recently in the Journal of Family Psychology, and conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California. For a week, the study authors intensively tracked levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the daily activities of 30 dual-earner couples in Los Angeles. With a median age of 41, all couples had least one child between 8 and 10 years old living at home.
Cortisol courses through our bodies daily, helping us gather ourselves for physical and mental challenges. It peaks throughout the day, but toward day’s end, it typically begins dropping — reflecting both our decline in activity as we ready for restorative sleep and the process of mentally “ unwinding.”
Those with chronically high cortisol levels — or whose cortisol levels fail to float downward in the evening — not only feel stressed, they also are vulnerable to a wide range of illnesses, both mental and physical. They even tend to die earlier, studies have shown. So linking cortisol levels with married parents’ end-of-day activities, the authors surmise, should tell us a lot about how our home lives influence our health and happiness.
Their findings: Lots of time spent in household chores at the end of the day keep both husbands’ and wives’ cortisol levels high—no surprise here. But on closer inspection, the researchers observed that a married mother's cortisol levels will decline most steeply at the end of the day when her husband pitches in with the housework. Unfortunately, a working man's end-of-day cortisol levels won't likely dip to recovery levels unless he spends more of his end-of-the-day time relaxing and his female partner spends less time relaxing." Read the rest of the article.