Does Your Boyfriend Help With Laundry?

Photo: Ryan J Lane/ Getty Images.
I've always said that once you're in a relationship for a while, coming home to find your significant other has cleaned the apartment (or even unloaded the dishwasher) is far more romantic than a flashy (expensive) bouquet of flowers being delivered to you at work. Maybe it's just me, but I think Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg agrees. She's been talking about the relationship benefits of men sharing household responsibilities for years, and yesterday, she shared a powerful video on Facebook that shows just how important a fair division of labor can be.

In the ad, produced by BBDO India for the P&G brand Ariel laundry detergent, a father is a silent bystander while his adult daughter struggles to juggle it all — a full-time job, a small child, and all the household chores — while catering to her sports-watching, couch-lounging husband. The father writes a letter apologizing for being a poor role model and promising to change.

"All these years I've been wrong," he writes. "It's time to set things right.

This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen – showing how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed from generation to generation. When little girls and boys play house they model their parents' behavior; this doesn’t just impact their childhood games, it shapes their long-term dreams.In this #SharetheLoad campaign, Ariel India, P&G, and BBDO Worldwide show how fathers and husbands can take small steps (like doing laundry) to create more equal homes. They won a #GlassLion at the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for earlier work on this campaign. The real win is the way they are changing stereotypes and showing that a more equal world would be a better world for all of us. Dads, #ShareTheLoad and #LeanInTogether for equality. Thank you Andrew Robertson, Marc Pritchard, Sonali Dhawan,Vidya Murthy, Sharat Verma, Shailesh Jejurikar, Josy Paul, and Mohammed Ismail.

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The ad is geared toward Ariel's Indian market, where gender disparity is still a huge issue, according to a 2011 U.N. Global Gender Gap Report.

"Despite recent economic advances, India’s gender balance for entrepreneurship remains among the lowest in the world," said Ejaz Ghani, a U.N. economic advisor. "Improving this balance is an important step for India’s development and its achievement of greater economic growth and gender equality."
But gender inequality — especially when it comes to men and women sharing household chores — is a global issue, which is why Sandberg was quick to share the video with her huge audience. As she pointed out in a 2015 New York Times article, "Research shows that when men do their share of chores, their partners are happier and less depressed, conflicts are fewer, and divorce rates are lower." Not to mention, there are further studies that suggest the children of parents who split the household chores 50/50 are more successful and more likely to continue the trend of gender equality. Plus, more sex! Straight couples where the husband does the laundry have been found to have happier and healthier sex lives.

It's something to consider when you start dating someone new: Does he know how to do his own laundry? Is she quick to do dishes or take out the trash? Full disclosure: I won't let my husband do laundry (one too many shrunken shirts), but he pretty much always unloads the dishwasher. And most nights, he cooks dinner and cleans up. I can think of few things more romantic.

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