Taking out the trash is annoying. Vacuuming sucks. Cleaning the bathroom is worse. But the number one chore most likely to wreak havoc on a relationship? Doing the dishes.
A new report from the Council of Contemporary Families found that of all the pain in the ass chores that have to get done around the house, dirty dishes are the most likely to negatively impact a relationship. That is—and this is important—if women are stuck doing them the most often.
Compared to women whose partners helped out with the dishes, women in heterosexual relationships who did most of the dishes themselves reported that they were less satisfied in their relationship and had more relationship conflict, the Atlantic says. They even reported having worse sex. But the couples who either traded off nights or sorted out a “you cook, I’ll clean” type of situation were happier overall.
Dirty dishes came in as the number one relationship agitator for a number of possible reasons, the first being that dirty dishes are revolting and no one wants to touch old, soggy leftovers. The second reason is that you don’t get complimented for doing them like you might for cooking dinner. The third is that women too often get saddled with chores that involve cleaning up messes created by their kids and partner, while said partner gets to mow the lawn and chop firewood or whatever. That causes resentment, says lead study author Dan Carlson.
The CCF report also found that the number of couples who divvy up dish duty rose from 16 to 29 percent from 1999 and 2006—a good start, but one that can potentially create even more tension if the duties in friends’ relationships appear fairer than those in your own. So in 2018, let’s aim for a full 100. Because there’s no I in teamwork and no sexism in the kitchen, but there is a pile of crusty, relationship-ruining plates in the sink that needs attention.