Photo: Chris Ware (Hulton Archives/Getty Images)

The division of household chores is a stressful subject even in the best of relationships. Women traditionally wind up shouldering a lot of the burden, but there’s one particular task that can drive a sharp wedge into relationships. The Atlantic reports today that an upcoming report from the Council Of Contemporary Families, a nonprofit that studies family dynamics, looked at a number of household chores and discovered that “for women in heterosexual relationships, it’s more important to share the responsibility of doing the dishes than any other chore. Women who wash the vast majority of the dishes themselves report more relationship conflict, less relationship satisfaction, and even worse sex, than women with partners who help.”

Why dishes, you might be pondering? Well, for one thing, they’re fucking disgusting. Unlike laundry, or cleaning the bathroom, the dishes are an omnipresent task, often cropping up multiple times a day and never in an easy, mess-free way. Even if you have a dishwasher, there’s still scraping and rinsing to be done. Dan Carlson, assistant professor of sociology at the University Of Utah and the lead author of the study, also points out that “unlike some other chores such as cooking or gardening, doing dishes well does not beget compliments… ‘What is there to say? “Oh, the silverware is so … sparkly”?’”

Small wonder that pitching in on the dishes can result in not only more relationship satisfaction, but an improved sex life. It’s a lot more romantic than a bunch of worthless, dead flowers. For example: So my husband recently started cooking, and he’s amazing at it. He is also, however, far from the type of cook who cleans up as he goes along, much as I beg. So where the typical chore breakdown would be that if one person cooks, the other person cleans, I am here to tell you that it would take me at least twice as long to clean up after dinner than it would for him to make it. By the time he’s done creating, every saucepan we have is dirty. Sauce is splattered on the opposite side of canisters. There are streaks on the toaster. And stuff in the sink strainer that I can’t/refuse to identify.

Fortunately, he gets that. So when I am happy (well, -ish) to load and unload dishes when I get home from work, he helps the whole time, wiping and scraping. We may even talk about our day while were doing it. At the end I have a clean kitchen and a lot less stress. I’ll take that over a dozen roses any day.