American Sociological Association

Division of Housework, Communication, and Couples’ Relationship Satisfaction

The gendered division of housework is an important predictor of relationship satisfaction, but the mechanisms linking these variables remain poorly understood. Using data on N = 487 couples from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey, the authors examine the association of heterosexual partners’ communication quality with the division of housework and the role of partners’ communication quality in the association between the division of housework and relationship satisfaction. Results from instrumental variable models and Actor-Partner Interdependence Models indicate that the quality of women’s communication with their male partners predicts how couples divide housework. The quality of men’s communication with their female partners, however, appears to be an outcome of domestic arrangements. Men’s communication quality mediates the association between the division of housework and women’ relationship satisfaction, while women’s communication quality confounds the association for men.


Daniel L. Carlson, Amanda J. Miller, and Stephanie Rudd