Dr. Melanie Brewster on Same-Sex Couples & Division of Labor

What straight couples can learn from same-sex couples when it comes to chores

Read full article at CBC Canada with Dr. Melanie Brewster HERE!

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During her research in sexuality and gender studies, Melanie Brewster has encountered plenty of frustrated couples.

And if there's one thing many same-sex couples could teach straight ones, she says, it's how to divvy up the seemingly mundane tasks of housework.

"When gender is neutralized as a factor in relationships, people tend to divide household chores either by interest or by who's better at a certain task," said Brewster, a psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Columbia University in New York City.

The increased participation of women in the workforce has been one of the main social revolutions in Canada over the past 40 years.

But it has resulted in increasingly heated battles over who does what around the home, with women left picking up the slack.

Studies by Statistics Canada suggest modern men tend to be far more involved in the domestic sphere than previous generations of fathers and husbands, but mothers still account for nearly two-thirds of all the hours of household work done by Canadian parents.

"Repeatedly, one of the things that makes people very unhappy in their partnerships is feeling like there's a disproportionate burden of domestic labour," said Brewster.

"In working with queer people, it was not a concern that came up quite as much."

Who takes out the trash?

Having surveyed dozens of studies of gay and lesbian couples, Brewster has concluded same-sex couples divide unpaid labour in a more egalitarian way.

Not only do same-sex couples tend to be more committed to equality, she explains, they're better at discussing openly who performs household tasks — and which tasks each partner prefers.

"The fact that you could actually discuss with your partner, 'I would much rather you take out the trash because I'm really sensitive to smells.' Something as simple as that leads to a lot less resentment."