The couple's equal-opportunity approach to domesticity extends outside the house as well. "I mow the lawn when I have time or take the cars in for an oil change," Mrs. Clark says. In their 31 years of marriage, she can't remember fighting over chores. "It seems common courtesy; it shouldn't be a problem."
Housework used to be a topic of dissension for Donna Maria Coles Johnson and her husband, Darryl, of Charlotte, N.C. After she explained that the house would run more smoothly if they both committed to certain chores, "We were able to sit down and come up with some processes," she says. Now they take turns cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and putting their two children to bed.
Mrs. Johnson also believes in training the next generation to help. "Our 6-year-old daughter sweeps, and our 4-year-old son takes out the recyclables," she says. "Both of the kids clean up the family room."
Another study of more than 17,000 people in 28 countries finds that married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends. "Marriage as an institution seems to have a traditionalizing effect on couples, even couples who see men and women as equal," says Shannon Davis, a sociologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and coauthor of the study.
Allison Peltz of Cleveland, who shares an apartment with her boyfriend, says he does most of the cleaning: "He's very into vacuuming, dusting, and keeping all things neat and tidy. A lot of my friends who are married or living together have husbands or boyfriends who also do a lot of the cleaning."