For many couples in Pennsylvania who decide to divorce, the end of the marriage was preceded by a longer period of growing apart or fighting. One common area of relationship stress can be disagreements over household chores. Couples may have different opinions about the level of cleanliness that should be kept, or one may do much more household labor than the other.

A study at Harvard Business School indicates that a high level of disagreement and arguments about household cleaning could lead to divorce. Researchers contacted 3,000 couples; they found that one-quarter of divorcing couples said that disagreements over housework were the primary cause of the split. The study also noted that couples who spent money on a cleaning service were less likely to divorce. This could be for several reasons, including the fact that hiring cleaning help allows couples to spend more time together in a pleasant environment rather than struggling with chores.

Of course, for couples with a lower income, hiring help is usually not a solution to the marital dispute. In general, wealth can help couples to avoid marital stress, whether over housework, child care or other tasks. A 2017 study found that couples who spend $100 to $200 each month on outsourced tasks like grocery delivery, laundry or dry cleaning are less likely to divorce. For couples for whom such expenses are unaffordable luxuries, learning how to communicate fairly with one’s partner can help to ease housework fights. In addition, being conscious of an unequal gendered division of labor and working to rectify frustrations can also help to improve a relationship.

Whether caused by disputes over housework, infidelity or simply growing apart, couples may decide to divorce. When a spouse makes this decision, working with a family law attorney may be able to help a divorcing spouse protect his or her interests and advocate for his or her rights in child custody, spousal support and asset division.