Can Paternity Leave Strengthen Your Marriage?

posted: 04/27/15
by: Mara Betsch

If you could change one thing about your spouse, what would it be? We bet it has something to do with him doing a few more chores around the house. This is especially true if you're a new sleep-deprived mom. And, according to a recent New York magazine article, paternity leave may encourage dads to lend a helping hand for months, or even years, to come.

Division of labor (aka who does the majority of the chores) is still a major argument-starter between couples. Even though women are making headway in the workplace -- about 4 in 10 women are primary breadwinners -- they're still taking on twice as much housework and parenting responsibilities as their male counterparts.

However, research shows that men who take paternity leave are far more likely to help out with the cooking, cleaning and child-rearing. A recent study on Quebec's Parental Insurance Program, an initiative that increased benefits for parents, especially dads, found that fathers who took advantage of the program's benefits spent 23 percent more of their time doing household chores -- even up to one to three years down the road. In another U.S. study, American dads who took two or more weeks of paternity leave were more likely to feed, bathe, and change diapers (yep, you read that correctly) for nine months after their paternity leave was over.

Imaging how many fewer arguments you'd have if the garbage was always taken out and the dishes always cleaned!

Unfortunately, very few men take paternity leave, much less weeks of it -- the Department of Labor found that 70 percent of the dads who use Family Medical Leave take just 10 days or less. But just two weeks ago, Massachusetts passed the Family Medical Leave Act, which stated that businesses must allow fathers eight weeks of unpaid paternity leave. And, if the man's company has 50 or more employees, he can take up to 12 weeks. Though it's still unpaid leave, perhaps it's a step in the right direction, and a step towards improving your marriage!