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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Invisible Household Labor and Ramifications for Adjustment: Mothers as Captains of Households

Lucia Ciciolla1 & Suniya S. Luthar2

# Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Abstract We address the issue of invisible labor in the home by examining how the distribution of the mental and emotional labor inherent in managing the household between spouses may be linked with women’s well-being, including their satisfaction with life, partner satisfaction, feelings of emptiness, and experiencing role overload. In a sample of 393 U.S. married/partnered mothers, mostly of upper-middle class backgrounds with dependent children at home, results showed that a majority of women reported that they alone assumed responsibility for household routines involving organizing schedules for the family and maintaining order in the home. Some aspects of responsibilities related to child adjustment were primarily handled by mothers, including being vigilant of children’s emotions, whereas other aspects were shared with partners, including instilling values in the children. Responsibility was largely shared for household finances. Regression analyses showed that after controlling for dimensions of emotional and physical intimacy, feeling disproportionately responsible for household management, especially child adjustment, was associated with strains on mothers’ personal well-being as well as lower satisfaction with the relationship. The implications of our work highlight the need to consider the burden of household management on mothers’ well-being and speak to mothers’ own needs for support and care as the primary managers of the household. In future research on division of labor, it will be useful to measure these critical but often neglected dimensions of who coordinates the household, given potential ramifications of this dimension for the quality of marriages and women’s personal well-being.

Keywords Division of labor .Well-being . Partner satisfaction . Intimacy .Motherhood

The adage, BA mother’s work is never done,^ rests on the myriad responsibilities linked with motherhood including not just everyday tasks and chores, but also ongoing psycho- logical caretaking. Despite shifting gender role norms that have seen men contributing more to housework and childcare than ever before, women still manage most of the household’s labor—even when employed full-time—and gender differ- ences in the amount of time spent on the household tend to

be the greatest among couples with children (Bianchi et al. 2006; Birch et al. 2009; Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015; Coltrane 2000; Dempsey 2002; Lachance-Grzela and Bouchard 2010; Parker and Wang 2013). For many mothers, this unequal burden can take a toll on mental health and well- being (Goldberg and Perry-Jenkins 2004). Studies have shown that the unequal division of labor in the home (primar- ily physical housework) is associated with women’s psycho- logical distress, depression, role overload, and even poor car- diovascular health (Bird 1999; Goldberg and Perry-Jenkins 2004; Harryson et al. 2012; Nomaguchi and Milkie 2003; Riina and Feinberg 2012; Thurston et al. 2011). In the present study, therefore, we examine (a) the extent to which the man- agement of the household is equally distributed between spouses and (b) how this distribution may be associated with salient aspects of women’s well-being including satisfaction with life and partner satisfaction, feelings of emptiness, and experiences of parenting role overload.

There is a potentially important aspect of mothers’ house- hold work that has not been adequately captured in U.S.

Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-1001-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

* Lucia Ciciolla [email protected]

1 Department of Psychology, Oklahoma State University, 116 N Murray Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078-3064, USA

2 Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Sex Roles https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-1001-x

national, demographic surveys thus far (Winkler and Ireland 2009): the burden of being the Bcaptain of the ship^ who is managing the household. This burden reflects the mental and emotional labor inherent to being the primary manager of a household (Eichler and Albanese 2007; Hochschild 1989; Offer 2014; Winkler and Ireland 2009)—labor that often pre- cedes the routine, physical work of maintaining the house- hold. Thus, in addition to doing most of the physical house- work and childcare, mothers also are the ones who most often manage, plan, anticipate, and organize both routine and unex- pected household tasks and family events, as well as support the daily well-being of family members (Bianchi et al. 2006; Daly 2002; Erickson 2005; Hochschild 1989; Offer 2014).

The conceptualizations of mental and emotional labor in- herent to household management are not new in the literature (Hochschild 1989; Erickson 2005;Winkler and Ireland 2009). However, although mental and emotional labor are acknowl- edged as forms of labor that contribute to the mental burden and stress of running the household, these types of labor are frequently overlooked by family members and researchers alike, due in part to their invisible nature (Darrah et al. 2007; Offer 2014; Shaw 2008). In fact, few studies specifically ex- amine the management of household tasks or childcare as a distinct component of household labor because it often occurs as part of multitasking, even spilling into other domains, and is rarely identified as a primary household task (Ahn et al. 2017; Meier et al. 2006; Offer 2014; Winkler and Ireland 2009). Thus, household management is a construct that has been difficult to define and capture in research on time use and division of labor, at times described as Bcare work,^ which includes lists of specific mental and organizational tasks that facilitate caring for the family and household (Mederer 1993; Meier et al. 2006) or is conceptualized as the amount of time spent thinking about family and household work during the day (Ahn et al. 2017; Offer 2014).

Captain of Household Management

In the current study, we sought to capture mothers’ felt obli- gations as the Bcaptain of the ship^ that was their household, that is, the extent to which mothers felt that they, more so than their spouses, shouldered responsibility for management of the home. A multidimensional approach was used in operationalizing this construct following recommendations that researchers should use integrative definitions of house- hold labor, spanning aspects of running the home broadly as well as caring for children and managing financial affairs (see Eichler and Albanese 2007; Winkler and Ireland 2009). Thus, the construct we assessed encompassed responsibility for keeping track of the everyday needs, demands, and schedules of all family members, ranging from organizing all children’s activities (Lareau and Weininger 2008; Meier et al. 2006;

Walzer 1996) to being vigilant of their various emotional needs, behaviors, and developing values (Eichler and Albanese 2007; Luthar et al. 2013; Senior 2014). This con- ceptualization most closely corresponds with Meier and col- leagues’ (Meier et al. 2006) measures of household and childcare management; but rather than a list of discrete tasks to manage, we more broadly captured categories of manage- ment responsibilities (because ensuring Bcoverage of various household tasks^ may encompass anything from meal prepa- ration and cleaning to maintenance and repairs, and also in- cludes the outsourcing of tasks).

This conceptualization and approach to measuring house- hold management reduces the number of items in the scale and allows for subjective, individual differences in the tasks in- volved in keeping up the household for a given family. Further, the current study included items that spanned addi- tional domains of household labor beyond the management of routine household tasks, such as the management burden as- sociated with raising children, including emotional labor, as well as the management of financial affairs (e.g., large finan- cial decisions like buying a new car). Again, rather than fo- cusing on a specific, routine task like buying school supplies for children or paying bills, these conceptualizations of man- aging the raising of children and finances seek to address the broader construct of managing the family’s affairs that is more in line with being the Bcaptain^ of the household and consis- tent with recommendations from research on economic house- hold labor (Mederer 1993; Thorne 2010; Winkler and Ireland 2009).

The burdens associated with being the manager or captain of household, defined in the present integrative, multidimen- sional way, can be especially high among upper-middle class mothers as seen in U.S. national reports on time use (Christensen and Schneider 2010; Jacobs and Gerson 2004; Offer 2014). Data between 2003 and 2007 showed that college-educated American mothers of school-aged children invested 130% more time than did less educated mothers in parenting responsibilities of management—that is, planning, organizing, and monitoring their children’s lives outside the home (Kalil et al. 2012). Similarly, between 1993 and 2008, U.S. college-educated mothers reportedly increased their time invested in activities focused on children from 12.0 to 20.5 h per week, whereas less educatedmothers increased theirs from 10.5 to 16.0 h (Ramey and Ramey 2010). Parallel increases for college-educated fathers were from 4.2 to 9.7 h per week. The greater increases among well-educated mothers likely reflects the dual facts that (a) they are generally the primary caregivers of their children and (b) in general, children in high achieving communities are involved in many more organized extra-curricular activities than in decades past so that these activities impinge on parents’ time (e.g., driving to and from rehearsals or sports practices, attending performances or games).

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Interestingly, economic or financial household labor has been shown to be gender-typed depending on social class or economic stability, with men being more involved in finance- related management of the household when there is greater economic stability and wealth and thus greater discretion and control in how money should be used (see Thorne 2010). However, there is evidence to suggest that women take on a greater role in the financial management of the household when their own earnings increase (Mano-Negrin and Katz 2003) or under circumstances of negative wealth or debt when financial management responsibilities are intensive and time- consuming (Thorne 2010). Notably, recent research suggests that when finances are managed jointly, spouses feel more empowered and report higher relationship quality and stability (LeBaron et al. 2018). Findings such as these attest to the importance of exploring the ramifications for adjustment of carrying a disproportionate responsibility for running the home and family (relative to partners) among this higher ed- ucated demographic of mothers.

The toll on women’s well-being associated with such man- agement responsibilities is highlighted in sociological re- search. Lareau and colleagues have in fact documented that well-educated mothers (with college degrees or more) dispro- portionately shoulder the work of coordinating Bconcerted cultivation^ via children’s extra-curricular pursuits (Lareau 2002, p. 748; Lareau andWeininger 2008). BMothers reported nagging children to get ready, coping with children’s resent- ment and irritation, and racing to get to activities in the requi- site time period; the strict deadlines created countless head- aches for parents, particularly mothers. Fathers were insulated from this ‘invisible labor’^ (Lareau and Weininger 2008, p. 443). In fact, findings from a recent study suggest there are cultural norms and beliefs that may help to insulate men from this type of labor because there is less expectation and societal pressure for men compared to women to be concerned with and keep track of their partners’ outstanding needs (Ahn et al. 2017).

Building upon the aforementioned studies, in the present study we sought not just to illuminate the extent of an unequal distribution of household management, but also to determine potential ramifications for mothers’ adjustment. Prior research examining the division of household management has focused on spousal conflict and relationship satisfaction, as well as qualitative reports of emotional distress and resentment (Mederer 1993; Meier et al. 2006; Thorne 2010). Thus, the current study sought to expand on these findings to examine the association of household management with a range of subjectively perceived adjustment variables that included both positive and negative aspects of well-being of the couple and of the mother herself. Two aspects of the couple’s relationship were measured: overall satisfaction with her partner and feel- ings of parenting role overload or feeling overwhelmed by the parenting role. These were examined given evidence that the

unequal burden of mental and emotional labor can contribute to significant marital dissatisfaction within couples as well as feelings of being stretched too thin (Mederer 1993; Meier et al. 2006). In assessing women’s personal adjustment, we examined overall satisfaction with life, as well as feelings of emptiness—the general sentiment, BIs this all there is to my life?^ We considered these last two indices particularly rele- vant to mothers with higher education because a nontrivial proportion may harbor feelings of disappointment about their primary status as household managers despite their high edu- cational attainment and often initially promising careers (Luthar et al. 2013; Luthar and Ciciolla 2015).

In examining the degree to which feeling primarily respon- sible for the management of household routines and children’s adjustment might contribute to women’s well-being, our goals were also to identify links largely unique to this construct, partialling out potential confounds in statistical associations. The first step toward such stringency in our analyses was to simultaneously consider another aspect of household man- agement not often considered in the literature: responsibil- ity for major financial decisions. Unlike responsibility for household routines, we postulated that being responsible for financial decisions would not have negative ramifica- tions for mothers’ adjustment because making decisions about a major investment or purchasing a new car (a) are occasional or sporadic decisions rather than routine, every- day responsibilities and (b) may actually be associated with positive feelings, such as empowerment, rather than being seen as tedious and humdrum jobs (see Hui et al. 2011; Sherman et al. 2012).

In further efforts to ascertain the unique influence of house- hold management, we planned, a priori, to partial out links for several other constructs known to have strong associations with mothers’ adjustment, including aspects of intimacy in relationships (Luthar and Ciciolla 2015). Specifically, four dimensions of intimacy have previously been shown to be robust in relation to multiple indicators of mothers’ well-be- ing: satisfaction with friendships, feelings of being uncondi- tionally accepted, feeling comforted when distressed, and au- thenticity in relationships (Luthar and Ciciolla 2015). In addi- tion to these dimensions, we considered two aspects of phys- ical intimacy: satisfaction with sexual intimacy (known to be significant among married or partnered mothers and for people in general; Bodenmann et al. 2007; Celello 2009) and satisfaction with being held or hugged, entailing physical closeness in non-sexual ways. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the value of human touch for overall well-being (see Field 2010; Shaltout et al. 2012). In the pres- ent study, our goals were to determine the degree to which well-being varied as a function of our perceived household management dimensions in particular, rather than being driv- en by dimensions of intimacy with which they were likely to show some overlap.

Sex Roles

To summarize, our goals for the present study were to ex- amine the ramifications of feeling disproportionately respon- sible for managing the household relative to partners or spouses. To gauge the unique significance of the multiple aspects of household management, including household rou- tines, child adjustment, and household finances, on women’s well-being, we partialled out contributions of several other factors known to be associated with mothers’ psychological adjustment, including dimensions of emotional and physical intimacy.

With the expectation that the invisible labor of household management will include distinct aspects or types of house- hold management—including primary responsibility (more than that of the partner) for household routines, for child adjustment, and for finances—we examined two major hypotheses. (a) A majority of mothers will report that they hold primary responsibility for managing both household routines and child adjustment (Hypothesis 1a), whereas a majority of mothers will report that they equally share responsibility for household finances with partners (Hypothesis 1b). (b) Feeling disproportionately responsi- ble for household management will be uniquely associated with measures of well-being, including life satisfaction, partner satisfaction, parenting role overload, and feelings of emptiness—over and above known correlates of well- being including emotional and physical intimacy (Hypothesis 2a). In particular, responsibility for house- hold routines will be negatively associated with partner satisfaction and life satisfaction, as well as positively as- sociated with parenting role overload and feelings of emp- tiness (Hypothesis 2b). Additionally, responsibility for child adjustment will be negatively associated with part- ner satisfaction and life satisfaction, and positively with parenting role overload and emptiness (Hypothesis 2c); and responsibility for household finances will be linked positively with partner satisfaction, life satisfaction, and parenting role overload, and negatively with emptiness (Hypothesis 2d).

Method

Sample and Procedure

To address these predictions, we accessed Luthar and Ciciolla’s (2015, 2016) data from their Moms as People study, an online survey developed to examine how mothers felt about various aspects of their lives, which included an oversampling for relatively well-educated women. Women were recruited to the study by word-of-mouth, flyers, media reports, and lectures, and between 2005 and 2010, a total of 2247 U.S. women completed the survey (for further details, see Luthar and Ciciolla 2015, 2016). Because this online study

evolved over time, additional dimensions were assessed in the measurement battery and in its final version; relationship var- iables not administered in previous versions—including vari- ables about partner satisfaction and physical intimacy—were added to the core questionnaires on personal adjustment and parenting (Luthar and Ciciolla 2015, 2016). Across the vari- ous online measures, 88% (n = 2247) of mothers who began the survey completed it, and only 11.8% (n = 306) discontinued before the end. No incentives were offered for completion.

For the current study we utilized data from a subset of 393 women who indicated they were married or in a committed partnership and had dependent children under the age of 18 years living at home whose greater dependency may have an influence on both the division of household management and personal adjustment (infancy through the high school years). Demographic details of the sample are provided in Table 1. As shown, approximately half the mothers in our study had a graduate degree and an additional quarter of the sample had a college degree; the remainder of were moderate- ly educated (Wilcox 2010) with a high school education but not a college degree. The majority of women were legally married. Of the women who reported having a partner or spouse, a majority had male partners.

Measures

For those measures not previously published and used specif- ically for our study, we indicate themwith an asterisk (*) in the sections that follow, and we list the specific items of these measures in the description or associated table (and have also included these in the online supplement).

Household Management

To assess division of household management, mothers were asked who was responsible for managing diverse household responsibilities ranging from organizing schedules for the family and making financial decisions to instilling values and shaping character in children, with answer choices being BMostly me,^ BMostly my spouse/partner,^ or BBoth equally.^ The total number of items was 13 (see Table 2). Each endorsement of BMostly Me^ was summed to compute scores reflecting mothers’ perceptions of the extent to which they are responsible for managing household labor. A score of zero would indicate that a mother did not feel primarily re- sponsible for any household management, whereas a score of 13 would imply that a mother felt primarily and solely respon- sible for managing all of the listed household responsibilities. Similarly, variables reflecting Bmostly my spouse^ and Bboth equally^ were computed. The resulting three variables were orthogonal, such that the total sum across them could not exceed 13. Because the focus of the current study was on

Sex Roles

the extent to which mothers felt primarily responsible for the management of the household, only endorsements of BMostly Me^were used in analyses. As described further in the Results section, factor analysis provided evidence for three subscales: Responsible for Household Routines*, Responsible for Child Adjustment*, and Responsible for Household Finances*.

Emotional Intimacy

Measures of emotional intimacy included four variables that have shown robust links with mothers’ adjustment (Luthar and Ciciolla 2015, 2016; see online supplement for complete measures). These included two single item questions: BDo you feel ‘seen’ and loved for the person you are, at your inner core?^ and BWhen you are deeply distressed, do you feel comforted in the ways you need?,^ with both rated on 6- point scales from 1 (not at all) to 6 (all the time), with higher scores reflecting greater feelings of being loved and comforted. Additionally, six items with a 5-point scale from 1 (not at all true) to 5 (very true) assessed authenticity or being genuine in relationships, with higher summed scores reflecting greater authenticity (e.g., BMy inner self is very much congruent, or similar, with what I show to others^ and BI am not really quite the person that people think I am^— reverse scored). Satisfaction with friendships was measured by adding three items rated on a 4-point scale from an adapted version of the Inventory of Parent Experiences (Crnic 1983), which measured satisfaction with the frequency of visiting with friends in person, on the phone, or electronically, rated from on a scale from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 4 (very satisfied), with higher summed scores reflecting greater satisfaction with friendships.

Physical Intimacy

With regard to physical intimacy, quality of sex* was assessed by one item, BHow would you judge the quality of your sex life?,^ rated on a 4-point scale, 1 (Poor), 2 (Fair), 3 (Good) to 4 (Excellent), with higher scores reflecting a higher quality sex life. To assess non-sexual, physical intimacy, mothers reported on the frequency of three items rated on a 5-point scale, 1 (Never/1–2 times a year), 2 (Less than once a month), 3 (1– 2 times a month), 4 (Once a week), 5 (Several times a week): BHow often do you get full, warm hugs from other adults?^; BHow often do other adults hold you, tenderly, in their arms?^; and BHow often do you snuggle, cuddle up with another adult?^. For each question, they also rated their satisfaction with the respective frequencies, on a 4-point scale from 1 (Very dissatisfied) to 4 (Very Satisfied), with higher scores reflecting greater satisfaction. The sum of the three satisfac- tion with being held* items were used in analyses. The satis- faction ratings were used because they provided more infor- mation on the participants’ perceptions about whether the

Table 1 Sample characteristics

Variable n %

Education

High school 87 22.1%

College 107 27.2%

Some grad school 40 10.2%

Master’s 112 28.5%

Doctorate 47 12.0%

Family income

Less than $50,000 58 15.1%

$50,000 to $75,000 70 18.2%

$75–100,000 76 19.8%

$100–200,000 96 25.0%

$200–500,000 56 14.6%

> $500,000 28 7.3%

Ethnicity

Black 14 3.7%

White 312 83.0%

Hispanic 27 7.2%

Asian 23 56.1%

Employed 255 64.9%

Not Employed 138 35.1%

Mother’s age (yrs)

21 to 30 87 22.1%

31 to 40 162 41.2%

41 to 50 111 28.2%

51 to 60 32 8.1%

61 or older 1 .3%

Marital status

Legally married 352 90.0%

Not married 39 10.0%

Partner: Male 379 96.4%

Female 14 3.6%

No. of Children

1 138 35.1%

2 147 37.4%

3+ 108 27.5%

Community

City 103 26.3%

Suburb 255 65.2%

Rural 33 8.4%

Region

Northeast 221 56.2%

Midwest 56 14.5%

South 38 9.9%

West 70 18.2%

Total number of survey respondents, n = 393

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frequency of non-sexual touch was matched with what they personally desired (e.g., not too much or too little). Frequency and satisfaction variables were correlated at .75.

Satisfaction with Partner

Among the outcome variables, satisfaction with partner* was assessed by eight items rated on a 5-point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), with higher summed scores reflecting greater partner satisfaction. The individual items reflected emotional intimacy, communica- tion between partners, and relational conflict—all factors that have been previously identified as important to partner or spousal satisfaction (Mackey et al. 2004). Good internal consistency across items was seen in the alpha coefficient of .90. The items were as follows: BMy relationship with my partner/spouse brings me much happiness;^ BMy partner/spouse does things that frustrate me^ (reverse scored); BI share my inner most concerns and fears with my partner/spouse;^ BI think about separating from or di- vorcing my partner/spouse^ (reversed scored); BMy partner/spouse truly knows and understands the person I am;^ BMy partner/spouse does things that are hurtful to

me^ (reversed scored); BI like the person my partner/ spouse is;^ and BI feel resentment toward my partner/ spouse^ (reversed scored).

Parenting Role Overload

This variable was assessed by seven items rated on a 5-point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The variable specifically seeks to capture the extent to which one feels overloaded or overwhelmed in their role as a mother/ parent, with higher summed scores reflecting greater feelings of being overwhelmed in the parenting role. The scale items are reported in full by Luthar and Ciciolla (2015), and exam- ples include, BI feel overwhelmed by all I have to do to take care of my family^ and BMy family’s demands often leave me feeling depleted at the end of the day.^ (See the online supplement for the complete measure.)

Overall Life Satisfaction and Emptiness

Overall life satisfaction was measured by the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener et al. 1985), with five items measuring global cognitive judgments of satisfaction with one’s life and

Table 2 Percent endorsements of each individual item for household management variables

Factor Loadings Percent Endorsed

1 2 3 Mostly Me

Mostly Partner

Both Equally

(a) Factor 1: Responsible for Household Routines

Organizing schedules for the family. .62 .05 .03 88% 2% 10%

Being the Bcaptain of the ship;^ ensuring that various tasks are appropriately covered.

.75 .17 .17 70% 5% 25%

Assigning tasks needed to keep the household running smoothly.

.78 .16 .12 74% 3% 23%

Maintaining standards for routine and order in the home.

.63 .38 .04 76% 3% 22%

(b) Factor 2: Responsible for Child Adjustment

Being vigilant of the children’s emotions. .16 .78 .07 64% 1% 35%

Knowing the children’s school teachers or administrators.

.25 .62 .03 78% 2% 20%

Instilling values and shaping character in your children.

.02 .66 .38 27% 1% 72%

Willing to give up things personally important, for the welfare of the household.

.21 .59 .17 50% 3% 47%

(c) Factor 3: Responsible for Household Finances

Where to make a major financial investment. −.01 .22 .71 15% 32% 53% Where the family should have an expensive vacation.

.13 .17 .79 18% 5% 77%

Whether an extension should be constructed on your house.

.11 .09 .91 12% 9% 80%

Whether you should buy a new car for your family. .12 .13 .86 10% 16% 74%

Whether you should have your kitchen extensively remodeled.

.14 .07 .85 15% 8% 77%

n = 393. Factor loadings for Household Management Items based on a Principal Component Analysis with varimax rotation

Sex Roles

rated on a 7-point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), with higher summed scores reflecting greater life satisfaction. Finally, emptiness was assessed by four items rated on a 5-point scale from 1 (not at all true) to 5 (very true), reflecting women’s feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction with their lives (Luthar and Ciciolla 2015). Examples include: BIn spite of everything I have, I feel a deep dissatisfaction^ and BI look around at my life and think, ‘Is this all there is.’^ Higher summed scores reflected greater feelings of emptiness.

Table 3 presents the total number of women who provided data for each measure included in the present report as well as alpha coefficients of internal consistency for multi-item scales, means and standard deviations, the range of responses, and the correlation matrix with all study variables. All measures were found to have adequate reliability. Additionally, evidence of their validity is evident in the strong correlations (and not mutual redundancy) among conceptually related variables. In all measures utilized, high scores represent high levels of the construct being assessed.

Results

Handling Missing Data

Missing values were examined for the extent of missing data using IMB SPSS Statistics 22, and Multiple Imputation (MI) analysis was conducted, which uses a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm knows as fully conditional specifi- cation (FCS). The imputation model included all the variables used in the current study, as well as additional variables from the larger dataset that may add importantly to the imputation (e.g., personality variables). Twenty separate datasets were imputed, with the number of between-imputation iterations set to 200 (Enders 2010). Analyses were then run on all 20 imputed datasets and the statistics automatically pooled.

Across all of the variables examined here, no more than 14% of data were missing on any variable. This said, in order to buttress the veracity of our findings, we replicated central analyses using the total sample with missing values imputed (n = 393), and the subset of women with complete data across all variables (n = 334). The overall pattern of results and in- terpretation of the findings did not change when looking sole- ly at the original data with missingness or at the subset with complete data. The following analyses then use the full dataset that includes 393 women.

Measuring Household Labor

To address Hypothesis 1, delineating different types of house- hold management, principal components analysis was used to identify and compute composite scores on BMostly Me^ re- sponses across the factors underlying household labor. We

expected that three factors would emerge: responsibility for household routines, for children’s well-being, and for house- hold finances. In fact, initial eigenvalues indicated that the first three factors explained 37%, 16%, and 8% of the variance, respectively. The fourth and fifth factors had eigenvalues less than one and explained 7% and 5% of the variance, respective- ly. Solutions for three, four, and five factors were each exam- ined using varimax and oblimin rotations of the factor loading matrix. The three factor solution, which explained 61% of the variance, was preferred because of (a) prior theoretical expec- tations based on review of the original items, (b) the results of the scree plot indicating a leveling off after 3 factors, and (c) difficulty interpreting the fourth and subsequent factors in asso- ciation with an insufficient number of primary loadings. There was little difference between the three-factor varimax and oblimin solutions, and no items were eliminated. A varimax rotation provided the best defined factor structure, with all items having primary loadings over .50. The factor loading matrix for this solution is presented in Table 2.

For each subscale, endorsements of BMostly Me^ were summed, and higher scores indicated greater personal respon- sibility for that type of household labor. Cronbach’s alpha was used to examine the internal consistency of BMostly Me^ responses across each subscale: .72 for Responsible for Household Routines (4 items); .65 for Responsible for Child Adjustment (4 items); and .87 for Responsible for Household Finances (5 items). Note that on the second of these subscales, one item, BWilling to give up things personally important, for the welfare of the household^ had a lower factor loading (.59) compared to the other items (.62–.78). At the same time, this item’s loading on Factor 2 was clearly higher than its loadings on the other two factors (.21–.17). On its face, this item re- flects the personal sacrifice associated with being a parent, giving everything possible for the betterment of the family, and especially for one’s children. Furthermore, eliminating this item did not result in an increase in alpha for the subscale (.61); thus, this item was retained with the other three in scor- ing Responsible for Child Adjustment. However, in future studies, it may be more appropriate for the item to read, BWilling to give up things personally important, for the wel- fare of the children.^

Descriptive Data

In Table 2 for each item, we also present the proportion of mothers indicating BMostly Me,^ BMostly Partner,^ and BBoth Equally.^ As expected in Hypothesis 1a, across all the Responsible for Household Routine items, a majority of wom- en (70%–88%) indicated that they themselves were primarily responsible (BMostly Me^). Similarly, a majority of women indicated that they were primarily responsible for two Responsible for Child Adjustment items: BBeing vigilant of children’s emotions^ (64%) and BKnowing children’s school

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D es cr ip tiv

e da ta :N

um be r of

re sp on de nt s co m pl et in g ea ch

m ea su re ,a lp ha s, de sc ri pt iv e st at is tic s, an d co rr el at io ns

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ns

V ar ia bl es

n α

M (S D )

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7 8

9 10

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39 1

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39 2

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3. Fi na nc es

a 38 9

.8 4

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4. Fe el se en -l ov ed

b 34 5

– 3. 94

(1 .2 7)

1– 6

−. 19 **

−. 35 **

−. 08

5. Fe el co m fo rt ed

b 33 4

– 3. 75

(1 .2 6)

1– 6

−. 19 **

−. 34 **

−. 07

.6 8* *

6. Fr ie nd

Sa tis .

39 3

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.4 4* *

.5 3* *

7. A ut he nt ic ity

38 5

.8 9

20 .7 1 (4 .9 0)

6– 30

−. 10 *

−. 11 **

.0 3

.4 5* *

.3 9* *

.3 0* *

8. Q ua lit y of

se xb

34 1

– 2. 61

(1 .0 1)

1– 4

−. 18 *

−. 26 **

−. 09

.3 8* *

.3 8* *

.2 0* *

.2 4* *

9. Sa tis .- he ld

39 3

.8 9

8. 82

(2 .8 5)

3– 12

−. 15 **

−. 36 **

−. 07

.4 7* *

.4 3* *

.3 8* *

.2 6* *

.4 2* *

10 .P

ar tn er

Sa tis .

39 3

.9 0

29 .3 3 (7 .4 5)

8– 40

−. 20 **

−. 44 **

−. 19 **

.6 0* *

.5 3* *

.2 8* *

.3 7* *

.5 1* *

.5 7* *

11 .P

-R ol e O ve rl oa d

39 1

.8 9

23 .8 6 (6 .1 8)

7– 35

.1 7* *

.1 5* *

.0 6

−. 32 **

−. 34 **

−. 41 **

−. 32 **

−. 17 **

−. 20 **

−. 18 **

12 .L

if e Sa tis .

37 4

.9 1

24 .9 5 (7 .1 0)

5– 35

−. 14 **

−. 36 **

−. 13 *

.6 0* *

.5 9* *

.4 2* *

.3 6* *

.3 6* *

.4 1* *

.6 5* *

−. 23 **

13 .E

m pt in es s

34 8

.8 6

2. 39

(1 .0 7)

1– 5

.2 0* *

.3 4* *

.1 2*

−. 59 **

−. 61 **

−. 40 **

−. 43 **

−. 32 **

−. 31 **

−. 51 **

.3 4* *

−. 65 **

S at is = S at is fa ct io n;

Sa tis .- he ld = S at is fa ct io n w ith

be in g he ld ;P

-R ol e O ve rl oa d = Pa re nt in g R ol e O ve rl oa d

a R es po ns ib le

fo r H ou se ho ld

R ou tin

es , R es po ns ib le

fo r C hi ld

A dj us tm

en t, an d R es po ns ib le

fo r H ou se ho ld

Fi na nc es : sc or es

re pr es en t su m

of BM

os tly

M e^

en do rs em

en ts ac ro ss

ite m s in

ea ch

sc al e,

re sp ec tiv

el y.

b Si ng le ite m

qu es tio

ns

*p < .0 5. ** p < .0 1

Sex Roles

teachers or administrators^ (78%). At the same time, they weremore likely to equally share responsibilities with partners on the other two duties: BWilling to give up things personally important, for the welfare of the household,^ (47%) and BInstilling values and shaping character in the children^ (72%). For Responsible for Household Finances items, as expected (Hypothesis 1b), a majority of women (53%–80%) indicated that responsibility for major financial decisions was shared equally with their partners.

Simple correlations among the variables are presented in Table 3. As expected, of the three dimensions of household management, primary responsibility for both routines and for child adjustment showed significant links with adjustment outcomes, in a negative direction with both Life and Partner Satisfaction and inversely with Role overload and Emptiness. Absolute values of these correlation coefficients were .14 to .44 (mdn = .20). Primary responsibility for finances was also significantly linked with three of the four outcomes, although the magnitude of the correlations was considerably smaller (.06, .12, .13, and .19).

The relationship predictors were correlated with all four adjustment outcome variables in hypothesized directions, with absolute values of the 16 correlation coefficients ranging from .32 to .61 (mdn = .42). Of the two relationship variables not so far examined in prior research (i.e., satisfaction with sex and with being held), overall, the relationships with outcomes were if anything, slightly larger for the latter. In relation to partner satisfaction, role overload, life satisfaction, and emp- tiness, the pairs of correlation coefficients for satisfaction with sex versus being held were .51 vs. .57; .17 vs. .20; .36 vs. .42, and .32 vs .31, respectively. (Interestingly, the same pattern held for the correlations between these measures of physical intimacy with the other four relationship variables, preceding them in Table 2; absolute values ranged from .20 to .38 for satisfaction with sex, mdn = .31; and from .26 to .47 for satisfaction with being held, mdn = .41.)

Regression Analyses

To address the predictions delineated in Hypothesis 2, we used hierarchical multiple regressions to examine the hypothesized associations in predicting mothers’ life satisfaction, partner satisfaction, parenting role overload, and emptiness. We en- tered sets of predictor variables in separate blocks to discern their relative contributions to adjustment outcomes (i.e., change in R2). After controlling for demographic indices (ed- ucational level, family income, employment status, and num- ber of children in Model 1), as well as including measures of Emotional Intimacy (Model 2) and Physical Intimacy (Model 3), we entered indices of central interest in our study (Model 4): the three indices of household management (i.e., Responsible for Household Routines, Responsible for Child Adjustment, and Responsible for Household Finances.

In Hypothesis 2a, we predicted that feeling disproportion- ately responsible for household management will be uniquely associated with measures of well-being, including life sat- isfaction, partner satisfaction, parenting role overload, and feelings of emptiness—over and above known correlates of well-being including emotional and physical intimacy. Taking each outcome measure of well-being in turn, re- sults showed that the indices of household management accounted for unique variance in three of the four outcomes—over and above demographics, emotional inti- macy, and physical intimacy.

Table 4 presents the results of the regression analysis for Life Satisfaction. After accounting for demographics, emo- tional intimacy, and physical intimacy, responsibility for household management still accounted for 2% of the variance in Life Satisfaction, in support of Hypothesis 2a. In support of Hypothesis 2c, Responsible for Child Adjustment was signif- icantly (negatively) associated with Life Satisfaction. Hypotheses 2b and 2d were not supported because Responsible for Household Routines and Responsible for Household Finances were not significantly associated with Life Satisfaction.

Table 5 presents the results of the regression analysis for Partner Satisfaction. After accounting for demographics, emo- tional intimacy, and physical intimacy, responsibility for household management still accounted for 4% of the variance in Partner Satisfaction, in support of Hypothesis 2a. Hypotheses 2c and 2d were supported because Responsible for Child Adjustment and Responsible for Household Finances were significantly (negatively) associated with Partner Satisfaction. Again, Hypothesis 2b was not supported because Responsible for Household Routines was not signif- icantly associated with Partner Satisfaction.

Table 6 presents the results of the regression analysis for Parenting Role Overload. After accounting for demographics, emotional intimacy, and physical intimacy, responsibility for household management only accounted for 1% of the variance in Parenting Role Overload (i.e., Model 4 was not statistically significant), not supporting Hypothesis 2a. Although the over- all model was not statistically significant, Responsible for Household Routines was positively associated with Parenting Role Overload, and this was the only finding to give support to Hypothesis 2b.

Finally, Table 7 presents the results of the regression anal- ysis for Emptiness. After accounting for demographics, emo- tional intimacy, and physical intimacy, responsibility for household management still accounted for 2% of the variance in Emptiness, in support of Hypothesis 2a. In support of Hypothesis 2c, Responsible for Child Adjustment was signif- icantly (positively) associated with Emptiness. Hypotheses 2b and 2d were not supported because Responsible for Household Routines and Responsible for Household Finances were not significantly associated with Emptiness.

Sex Roles

Ta bl e 4

H ie ra rc hi ca lr eg re ss io n of

de m og ra ph ic s, em

ot io na li nt im

ac y, ph ys ic al in tim

ac y, an d ho us eh ol d m an ag em

en tr eg re ss ed

on lif e sa tis fa ct io n

M od el 1

M od el 2

M od el 3

M od el 4

V ar ia bl es

β b

t β

b t

β b

t β

b t

D em

og ra ph ic s

E du ca tio n

.1 5

.1 1

2. 68 **

.1 0

.0 7

2. 12 *

.1 3

.0 9

2. 86 **

.1 3

.0 9

2. 88 **

Fa m ily

in co m e

.1 8

.1 2

3. 11 **

.1 4

.1 0

3. 15 **

.1 3

.0 9

3. 01 **

.1 3

.0 9

2. 97 **

E m pl oy ed

a .0 3

.0 7

.6 3

.0 4

.0 8

.9 3

.0 4

.0 8

.9 0

.0 4

.0 9

1. 05

N o. of

ch ild

re n

−. 07

−. 09

−1 .3 4

−. 04

−. 05

−. 99

−. 04

−. 06

-1 .0 9

−. 03

-. 04

−. 73

E m ot io na lI nt im

ac y

Fe el in g se en /lo

ve d

.3 3

.3 3

5. 66 **

.2 7

.2 7

4. 56 **

.2 5

.2 5

4. 27 **

Fe el in g co m fo rt ed

.2 4

.2 3

4. 18 **

.1 9

.1 9

3. 44 **

.1 8

.1 8

3. 29 **

Sa t. w ith

fr ie nd s

.1 2

.1 3

2. 63 **

.1 2

.1 2

2. 46 *

.1 2

.1 2

2. 49 *

A ut he nt ic ity

.0 6

.0 6

1. 33

.0 5

.0 5

1. 06

.0 6

.0 6

1. 41

Ph ys ic al In tim

ac y

Q ua lit y of

se x

.1 3

.1 3

2. 74 **

.1 2

.1 2

2. 58 *

S at .w

ith be in g he ld

.0 8

.0 9

1. 74

.0 5

.0 5

1. 09

H ou se ho ld

M an ag em

en t

R es p. ho us e ro ut in es

.0 7

.0 7

1. 63

R es p. ch ild

ad ju st

−. 14

−. 15

−3 .0 3* *

R es p. ho us e fi na nc es

−. 02

−. 02

−. 56

F 9. 01 **

67 .1 5* *

8. 49 **

3. 82 *

df 4

4 2

3

df er ro r

37 9

37 5

37 3

37 0

R 2

.0 9

.4 7

.4 9

.5 1

Δ R 2

.3 8* *

.0 2* *

.0 2*

n = 39 3.

Sa t=

Sa tis fa ct io n;

R es p.

ho us e ro ut in es = R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d ro ut in es ; R es p.

ch ild

ad ju st = R es po ns ib le

fo r ch ild

ho od

ad ju st m en t; R es p.

ho us e fi na nc es

= R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d

fi na nc es .a

1 = em

pl oy ed ,0

= no te m pl oy ed

*p < .0 5. ** p < .0 1

Sex Roles

Ta bl e 5

H ie ra rc hi ca lr eg re ss io n of

de m og ra ph ic s, em

ot io na li nt im

ac y, ph ys ic al in tim

ac y, an d ho us eh ol d m an ag em

en tr eg re ss ed

on pa rt ne r sa tis fa ct io n

M od el 1

M od el 2

M od el 3

M od el 4

V ar ia bl es

β b

t β

b t

β b

t β

b t

D em

og ra ph ic s

E du ca tio

n .0 3

.0 2

.4 3

−. 04

−. 03

−. 84

.0 4

.0 3

.8 9

.0 3

.0 3

.8 1

Fa m ily

in co m e

.1 3

.1 0

2. 17 *

.1 1

.0 8

2. 27 *

.0 8

.0 6

2. 01 *

.0 8

.0 6

2. 07 *

E m pl oy ed

a −. 05

−. 11

−. 90

−. 05

−. 12

−1 .2 6

−. 06

−. 15

−1 .7 6

−. 06

−. 13

−1 .5 5

N o. of

ch ild

re n

−. 08

−. 11

−1 .3 6

−. 04

−. 05

−. 87

−. 04

−. 05

−. 96

−. 02

−. 03

−. 57

E m ot io na lI nt im

ac y

Fe el in g se en /lo

ve d

.4 3

.4 8

7. 04 **

.2 8

.3 2

4. 99 **

.2 5

.2 8

4. 55 **

Fe el in g co m fo rt ed

.2 1

.2 2

3. 84 **

.1 1

.1 2

2. 07 *

.0 9

.0 9

1. 67

S at .w

ith fr ie nd s

−. 05

−. 05

−. 98

−. 09

−. 10

−2 .0 5*

−. 08

−. 09

−1 .9 4

A ut he nt ic ity

.1 0

.1 1

2. 18 *

.0 8

.0 8

1. 83

.1 0

.1 1

2. 53 *

Ph ys ic al In tim

ac y

Q ua lit y of

se x

.2 3

.2 5

5. 23 **

.2 1

.2 3

4. 91 **

S at .w

ith be in g he ld

.3 0

.3 5

6. 85 **

.2 6

.3 0

5. 94 **

H ou se ho ld

M an ag em

en t

R es p. ho us e ro ut in es

.0 4

.0 5

1. 08

R es p. ch ild

ad ju st

−. 19

−. 22

−4 .2 7* *

R es p. ho us e fi na nc es

−. 08

−. 09

−2 .0 6*

F 2. 11

6. 35 **

54 .3 3* *

10 .2 2* *

df 4

4 2

3

df er ro r

37 9

37 5

37 3

37 0

R 2

.0 2

.4 0

.5 4

.5 7

Δ R 2

.3 8* *

.1 3* *

.0 4* *

n = 39 3.

Sa t=

Sa tis fa ct io n;

R es p.

ho us e ro ut in es = R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d ro ut in es ; R es p.

ch ild

ad ju st = R es po ns ib le

fo r ch ild

ho od

ad ju st m en t; R es p.

ho us e fi na nc es

= R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d

fi na nc es .a

1 = em

pl oy ed ,0

= no te m pl oy ed

*p < .0 5. ** p < .0 1

Sex Roles

Ta bl e 6

H ie ra rc hi ca lr eg re ss io n of

de m og ra ph ic s, em

ot io na li nt im

ac y, ph ys ic al in tim

ac y, an d ho us eh ol d m an ag em

en tr eg re ss ed

on pa re nt in g ro le ov er lo ad

M od el 1

M od el 2

M od el 3

M od el 4

V ar ia bl es

β b

t β

b t

β b

t β

b t

D em

og ra ph ic s

E du ca tio n

.0 3

.0 2

.5 1

.0 5

.0 4

1. 04

.0 6

.0 4

1. 10

.0 7

.0 5

1. 26

F am

ily in co m e

−. 04

−. 02

−. 61

.0 1

.0 0

.1 3

.0 0

.0 0

.0 9

−. 01

−. 00

−. 13

E m pl oy ed

a .0 6

.1 3

1. 20

.0 4

.0 8

.8 6

.0 4

.0 7

.7 7

.0 4

.0 9

.9 3

N o. of

ch ild

re n

.0 0

.0 0

.0 4

−. 01

−. 01

−. 19

−. 01

−. 01

−. 12

.0 0

.0 0

.0 0

E m ot io na lI nt im

ac y

Fe el in g se en /lo

ve d

−. 09

−. 09

−1 .2 6

−. 10

−. 10

−1 .3 8

−. 10

−. 10

−1 .3 4

F ee lin

g co m fo rt ed

−. 12

−. 10

−1 .7 5

−. 13

−. 12

−1 .7 6

−. 11

−. 10

−1 .5 5

S at .w

ith fr ie nd s

−. 26

−. 25

−4 .7 7* *

−. 27

−. 26

−4 .8 8* *

−. 28

−. 27

−4 .9 8* *

A ut he nt ic ity

−. 15

−. 14

−2 .7 6* *

−. 15

−. 14

−2 .7 3* *

−. 15

−. 14

−2 .7 2* *

Ph ys ic al In tim

ac y

Q ua lit y of

se x

−. 02

−. 02

−. 40

−. 01

−. 01

−. 20

S at .w

ith be in g he ld

.0 6

.0 6

1. 02

.0 6

.0 6

.9 7

H ou se ho ld

M an ag em

en t

R es p. ho us e ro ut in es

.1 1

.1 1

2. 14 *

R es p. ch ild

ad ju st

−. 03

−. 03

−. 51

R es p. ho us e fi na nc es

.0 2

.0 2

.4 2

F .5 4

27 .4 2* *

.6 0

1. 85

df 4

4 2

3

df er ro r

37 9

37 5

37 3

37 0

R 2

.0 1

.2 3

.2 3

.2 4

Δ R 2

.2 3* *

.0 0

.0 1

n = 39 3.

Sa t=

Sa tis fa ct io n;

R es p.

ho us e ro ut in es = R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d ro ut in es ; R es p.

ch ild

ad ju st = R es po ns ib le

fo r ch ild

ho od

ad ju st m en t; R es p.

ho us e fi na nc es

= R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d

fi na nc es .a

1 = em

pl oy ed ,0

= no te m pl oy ed

*p < .0 5. ** p < .0 1

Sex Roles

Ta bl e 7

H ie ra rc hi ca lr eg re ss io n of

de m og ra ph ic s, em

ot io na li nt im

ac y, ph ys ic al in tim

ac y, an d ho us eh ol d m an ag em

en tr eg re ss ed

on em

pt in es s

M od el 1

M od el 2

M od el 3

M od el 4

V ar ia bl es

β b

t β

b t

β b

t β

b t

D em

og ra ph ic s

E du ca tio

n −. 06

−. 05

−1 .0 6

−. 01

−. 01

−. 15

−. 01

−. 01

−. 31

−. 01

−. 01

−. 23

F am

ily in co m e

−. 02

−. 02

−. 39

.0 2

.0 1

.4 0

.0 2

.0 1

.3 4

.0 1

.0 1

.3 2

E m pl oy ed

a −. 10

−. 21

−1 .9 1

−. 11

−. 23

−2 .6 9*

−. 11

−. 24

−2 .7 8* *

−. 12

−. 25

−2 .8 9* *

N o. of

ch ild

re n

.0 2

.0 2

.3 3

−. 01

−. 01

−. 21

−. 00

−. 00

−. 08

−. 01

−. 02

−. 28

E m ot io na lI nt im

ac y

Fe el in g se en /lo

ve d

−. 26

−. 26

−4 .2 3* *

−. 26

−. 26

−4 .0 4* *

−. 24

−. 24

-3 .7 1* *

F ee lin

g co m fo rt ed

−. 30

−. 20

−4 .9 8* *

−. 29

−. 28

−4 .6 7* *

−. 27

−. 26

−4 .3 6* *

S at .w

ith fr ie nd s

−. 10

−. 10

−2 .1 1*

−. 11

−. 11

−2 .3 1*

−. 12

−. 12

−2 .4 7*

A ut he nt ic ity

−. 17

−. 17

−3 .5 6* *

−. 17

−. 17

−3 .4 0* *

−. 18

−. 18

−3 .7 9* *

Ph ys ic al In tim

ac y

Q ua lit y of

se x

−. 08

−. 08

−1 .7 2

−. 07

−. 07

−1 .5 5

S at .w

ith be in g he ld

.0 4

.0 4

.8 0

.0 7

.0 7

1. 41

H ou se ho ld

M an ag em

en t

R es p. ho us e ro ut in es

−. 01

−. 01

−. 25

R es p. ch ild

ad ju st

.1 1

.1 2

2. 30 *

R es p. ho us e fi na nc es

.0 6

.0 6

1. 37

F 1. 96

76 .9 0* *

2. 07

3. 95 *

df 4

4 2

3

df er ro r

37 9

37 5

37 3

37 0

R 2

.0 2

.4 6

.4 7

.4 8

Δ R 2

.4 4* *

.0 1

.0 2*

n = 39 3.

Sa t=

Sa tis fa ct io n;

R es p.

ho us e ro ut in es = R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d ro ut in es ; R es p.

ch ild

ad ju st = R es po ns ib le

fo r ch ild

ho od

ad ju st m en t; R es p.

ho us e fi na nc es

= R es po ns ib le

fo r ho us eh ol d

fi na nc es .a

1 = em

pl oy ed ,0

= no te m pl oy ed

*p < .0 5. ** p < .0 1

Sex Roles

Relative Contributions of the Four Sets of Predictors to the Different Outcomes

Notably, the demographic variables collectively contributed to a significant increase in R2 for only Life Satisfaction, with Education and Family Income having significantly positive associations (see Table 4). By contrast in Model 2, the indices of emotional intimacy together as a block accounted for moderate proportions of changed variance across all of the outcome measures of well-being (see Tables 4, 5, 6 and 7), with values ranging from .23 for parenting role overload to .44 for emptiness. At least two of the four emotional inti- macy predictors were significantly associated with all four outcomes (see Tables 4, 5, 6 and 7), and all four emotional intimacy predictors had significant unique links with emp- tiness (see Table 7). The physical intimacy indices includ- ed in Model 3 significantly contributed to unique variance for Life Satisfaction (see Table 4) and Partner Satisfaction (see Table 5). Within Model 3, Quality of Sex was posi- tively linked with Life Satisfaction (see Table 4) and Partner Satisfaction (see Table 5); and in addition, satis- faction with non-sexual touch (Being Held) was positively related to partner satisfaction (see Table 5). Collectively, variables in the complete hierarchical regression model explained approximately 51% of the variance in Life Satisfaction; 57% of the variance in Partner Satisfaction; 24% of the variance in Parenting Role Overload; and 48% of the variance in Emptiness.

Supplementary Analyses

In a second set of hierarchical regressions (see Tables 1s–4s in the online supplement), we applied a less stringent test of the significance of the household management variables, entering them in Model 2 following demographics, and before the physical and emotional intimacy variables. When the house- hold management block was included in Model 2 (compared with Model 4 as shown in Tables 4, 5, 6 and 7), the R2 values were much larger, .20, .22, .04, and .13, respectively for Life Satisfaction, Partner Satisfaction, Parenting Role Overload, and Emptiness. These analyses suggest that the relationships between the responsibility for household management and adjustment variables may, in part, be explained by dimensions of intimacy. (Note that in these additional analyses where physical and emotional intimacy variables were entered after the responsibility for household management variables in Blocks 3 and 4, the percent of the variance explained by these Blocks, respectively, in predicting Life Satisfaction, Partner Satisfaction, Parenting Role Overload, and Emptiness were 14%, 27%, 3%, and 8% for the physical intimacy variables, and 17%, 8%, 17%, and 27% for the emotional intimacy variables.)

Discussion

Results of the present study were generally consistent with our hypotheses. As expected, most of the women in our sample felt that they, more than their partners, shouldered household responsibilities in two domains (managing household routines and ensuring children’s well-being), but they were more likely to equally share responsibilities in the third domain (managing household finances). The second set of hypotheses was par- tially supported. We had expected negative links with adjust- ment for both household routines and ensuring children’s well-being but links were more consistently seen for the latter. Unexpectedly, managing household finances was negatively linked with partner satisfaction. We discuss each of these find- ings in turn in the following.

Division of Household Management

In the present sample of relatively well-educated mothers, we found there were in fact several Binvisible^ aspects of house- hold management for which women felt disproportionately solely responsible. Considering the patterns across all four of the household routine management items we queried, as well as half the items related to children’s adjustment, these quan- titative data provide credence to prior qualitative ethnographic reports on women’s Binvisible labor^ in the household (i.e., the mental and emotional labor that keeps the household run- ning) (Hochschild 1989; Lareau and Weininger 2008). Specifically, our findings are consistent with reports describ- ing the disproportionately high burden of responsibilities such as coordinating the household and managing children among relatively well-educated U.S. mothers (more so than well- educated fathers; Eichler and Albanese 2007; Offer 2014; Winkler and Ireland 2009).

They are also consistent with conceptual social-cognitive perspectives emphasizing the descriptive and prescriptive ste- reotypes in the continuation of such divisions; that is, women are expected and assumed to be more communal than are men and, accordingly, disproportionately shoulder tasks at home (Eagly and Wood 2012). As Ahn and colleagues (Ahn et al. 2017, p. 436) persuasively argue: B[Part] of the reason that the division of housework tends to remain traditionally divided even in the face of dramatic changes in women’s employment and earnings is because women internalize societal standards of being communal.^

But is this burdensome? Does it matter for mothers’ well- being if they do in fact feel that, overall, they are the executive managers of running the household running smoothly (aside from actually doing the tasks involved)? Our results suggest it does, with some interesting nuances. Although responsibility for household routines showed some association with feelings of parenting role overload, it did not have strong links with other aspects of psychological well-being. Rather, when all

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dimensions were considered in multivariate regressions, it was feeling solely responsible for children’s adjustment that most consistently showed associations with outcomes, being negatively linked with mothers’ partner satisfaction and satisfaction with life and positively linked with feelings of emptiness.

This pattern of findings may partly be a result of the differ- ent stakes involved in the two sets of responsibilities. In other words, it can be tedious and even stressful to manage multiple schedules of a busy family (Ahn et al. 2017), but if there is an occasional late pick-up after school, or forgotten chores, there are unlikely to be serious long-term ramifications for the fam- ily. On the other hand, a mother might fear more serious con- sequences if she failed to pick up on signs of her 12-year old’s depression or neglected to be an adequate advocate for her children to their teachers, coaches, and administrators at school. With the stakes being higher for the latter type of responsibilities, feeling alone in handling them would imply greater strain on mothers’ personal adjustment and their rela- tionships with partners.

It should be noted that it is possible that responsibility for household routines did not demonstrate the same associations with personal adjustment due to a lack of variability in the data. That is, with 70% to 88% of women reporting that they are primarily responsible for household routines, it would be difficult to find unique associations with the outcome variables.

Potential Mechanisms

In terms of broad underlying mechanisms, it is plausible that feeling disproportionately like the manager of children’s well- being and household routines manifests in resentment in the marriage, which in turn, affects feelings of well-being. Stated differently, if mothers feel that their partners contribute mini- mally to these ongoing, inescapable, and sometimes high- stakes responsibilities, they may feel resentful, distant, and even taken for granted (Ogolsky et al. 2014; Saginak and Saginak 2005). This suggestion is supported by regression results showing that in large part, associations between these responsibility dimensions and mothers’ adjustment outcomes were largely outweighed by feelings of authenticity in their close relationships (i.e., of being seen and loved for who they really were as individuals) and feelings of closeness. To illus- trate, in predicting partner satisfaction, variance explained by the dimensions of household management decreased from 22% to 4% when these were allowed to precede the set of intimacy variables in the hierarchical regression analyses, as opposed to when they were entered last.

Aside from feelings of interpersonal resentment, however, poor adjustment may also be associated with high stress. The tasks included in our measure are akin to what Crittenden (2004) wrote in her book, titled, BIf you’ve raised kids, you

can manage anything.^ Among the dozen or so sets of tasks she lists for household manager are supervising child devel- opment, including daily psychological support and resolving problems; interceding with teachers and attending meetings and events at school; maintaining responsibility for routine medical care; coordinating sporting and other extracurricular activities; keeping a constant mental inventory of what’s need- ed in household (from light bulbs and toilet paper to gifts); assuring good family nutrition; keeping track of new clothes and shoes needed for children; planning events including bar and bat mitzvahs and birthday parties; coordinating transpor- tation to and from school and extracurricular activities; over- seeing care of pets; management of crises including trouble at school and accidents (and much more). Crittenden quotes Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, as saying that multi-tasking is the essential parenting skill, adding that this B...is the only skill mothers are universally credited with possessing^ (Crittenden 2004, p. 15).

Admirable as this might be, ongoing multitasking is not without costs, as seen from studies in the workplace. When people in managerial roles feel that they have a large number and scope of assignments and responsibilities, and that they must be accomplished in little time, the associated challenges can be gratifying in the short term, but if persistent over time, threaten well-being (Cavanaugh et al. 2000; Nahrgang et al. 2011). Studies have also shown that the stressful effects of leadership are related to the degree of associated control, such that leaders in positions with high power exhibited lower cor- tisol levels and less anxiety than those with less powerful positions, and the relationship was explained by their greater sense of control (Sherman et al. 2012). It goes without saying that there is little power, and potentially ongoing lack of con- trol, in managing a portfolio with charges like finding and retaining reliable childcare, ensuring that rides are arranged to all practices, scheduling something for all kids for summer months, reaching out to teachers about the Bmean kid,^ and cajoling a sullen teenager to open up and share.

Additionally, studies have documented both greater amounts, as well as greater costs of, multitasking at home among mothers than among fathers. In the 2000 U.S. National Survey of Parents, 67% of married mothers indicated that they multi-tasked Bmost of the time,^ as opposed to only 42% of married fathers (Bianchi et al. 2006). Gender dif- ferences were more pronounced among dual-earner couples where both parents worked at least 50 h: almost 86% of mothers and 59% of fathers (Bianchi and Wight 2010). Similarly, Galinsky and colleagues (Galinsky et al. 2005) reported that differences in multitasking account for the higher rates of women of feeling overworked as compared to men.

There is also evidence of this over-burdening among upper-middle class mothers specifically. Offer and Schneider (2011) used both survey data and experience sampling to

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examine the effects of multi-tasking in different contexts—at home, at work, and in public. Their sample consisted mostly of highly educated parents in white collar professions— among the most time pressured segments of the population (Jacobs and Gerson 2004; Schneider and Waite 2005) —and a sample similar to ours. Results showed that as compared to fathers, mothers spent 10 more hours a week multitasking and that these additional hours were generally related to time spent on housework and childcare.

More importantly, for mothers, multitasking activities at home and in public were linked with higher levels of negative emotions, stress, distress, and work-family conflict. By con- trast, fathers’ multitasking at home involved less housework and childcare and did not have negative ramifications (Offer and Schneider 2011). These authors further noted that gender differences in reported multitasking may actually be underes- timates because mothers are generally more likely than fathers are to take for granted, and thus to underreport, their house- hold chores and childcare activities (Schneider 2006; see also Yavorsky et al. 2015).

Moreover, along with evidence that women take on more mental labor associated with household management (Offer 2014; Winkler and Ireland 2009), women are more likely than men are to take on the mental labor and multitasking of others. For example, Ahn et al. (2017) reported that men were less likely than were women to help their partner remember tasks on their to-do list; tended to do so primarily when the tasks personally benefited them; and provided reminders that are less helpful for their partners than for themselves. Collectively, these findings resonate with reports that mothers feel rushed, overwhelmed, and mentally fatigued more fre- quently than do fathers (Bianchi et al. 2006; Mattingly and Sayer 2006; Roxburgh 2004; Walzer 1996), and they under- score the risks faced by mothers given the breadth of norma- tive expectations of them in their role as household managers (Offer and Schneider 2011).

Managing the Household Versus Finances

As we expected and consistent with recent research (LeBaron et al. 2018), women were far less likely to indicate that they were primarily responsible for family financial decisions; in these instances, the most common response was both partners, equally. The percent endorsed for BMostly Me^ ranged from 12% to 18%, values much smaller than those reported for the other aspects of household management. Also, as expected, responsibility for household finances was not associated with mothers’ personal distress indices. As we noted at the outset of our paper, financial decisions, although potentially stressful, may be associated with a greater sense of agency in terms of allocating major family resources. This is consistent with pre- viously cited evidence in business management that when managers are responsible for things that they perceive as

important, consequential, and over which they have some sense of control, satisfaction with their positions tends to be high. On the other hand, when the responsibilities are tedious, continuous, and beyond one’s sense of control, this can en- gender stress (Sherman et al. 2012).

However, unexpectedly, primary responsibility for house- hold finances was negatively associated with partner satisfac- tion. This unexpected association may reflect a cumulative effect of increasing levels of dissatisfaction in relation to car- rying an unequal burden across several types of household responsibilities (Ogolsky et al. 2014). It is unlikely that part- ners who do not contribute equally to financial decisions would otherwise contribute sufficiently to the management of the household, thus resulting in a relationship that is much less a shared partnership than was, for many women, original- ly desired (Ely et al. 2014), leading to growing dissatisfaction. This finding is consistent with a 2014 online financial survey that showed that as wives take a more active role in financial planning for the family (as a function of increasing economic contribution to the family income), the changing dynamics around being the breadwinner and financial decision-making is associated with increased spousal conflict over both money and the division of household labor (Money Magazine 2014). Further, it is also possible that even though these families had high-earnings, there may have been some financial stress or instability not captured in the data that prompted women to take on a larger role in financial planning that contributed to stress in the relationship (Thorne 2010).

Interestingly, whereas men in the Money Magazine (2014) survey reported increased marital satisfaction when women earned as much or more money than they (attributed to in- creased financial security), higher-earning women reported less marital satisfaction, which may reflect increased stress and role overload associated with managing the majority of household responsibilities and, possibly, increased resentment towards partners. The response from one participant in the Money Magazine (p. 11) survey keenly summarizes the discord:

It’s a constant struggle to be the best at my job, the best mom, the best wife, the best financial planner for our lives, the best homeowner, the best coach. Sometimes I feel like there is so much expected of me that I may just explode. [My partner] is helpful, but since I earn more and worry more, I feel it’s on my shoulders.

Unfortunately, in the current study, the proportion that mothers contributed to the household income could not be determined from the data. For future research, it would be helpful for analyses to consider how much each partner con- tributes to the household income and examine how the pro- portion of women’s earnings may affect perceptions of well- being and the romantic relationship.

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Dimensions of Intimacy

Findings of our study support prior suggestions on the critical aspect of what Luthar and Ciciolla (2015) called the Bbig four^ correlates of mothers’ adjustment across domains (i.e., feeling seen/loved for one’s true self, comforted when in need, satisfaction with friendships, and feeling authentic in close relationships). After considering demographics and household management variables, most of these indices were significant- ly related to three of four outcomes, with feeling comforted related to two (i.e., life satisfaction and emptiness). Evenwhen entered last into the model after controlling for demographics, physical intimacy, and household management, these four var- iables uniquely explained 8% to 27% of the variability in the maternal adjustment outcomes. Conceptually, it is logical that feelings of intimacy (more so than division of labor) would have stronger links with personal distress, partner satisfaction, and overall life satisfaction, and it is notable that these feelings are so strongly associated with the degree to which women feel stretched thin with their everyday responsibilities in the parenting role.

Finally, with regard to physical intimacy, unique associa- tions were found for both sexual and non-sexual intimacywith partner satisfaction as the outcome, and sexual intimacy was also linked with overall life satisfaction. Interestingly, the magnitudes of the associations with partner satisfaction were not just equivalent, but slightly higher, for nonsexual as com- pared to sexual intimacy (Beta values of .30 and .23, respec- tively). For future research on marital relationships, it may be useful to explore the relative degree of contributions from satisfaction with being held and hugged in addition to quality and frequency of sex, among mothers as well as fathers.

Limitations and Future Directions

Although the sole reliance on self-report data could be seen as a limitation, this methodology is consistent with our goal of understanding mothers’ subjectively experienced perceptions about their everyday lives. We sought to capture women’s own feelings about sole versus shared responsibility for dif- ferent aspects of running the home and of diverse facets of intimacy with partners, and then disentangling the relative salience of each of these in terms of ramifications for well- being or distress. This said, it will be useful to also obtain partners’ perceptions in future research, comparing both levels of captaincy as reported by each as well as implications for their respective adjustment.

We cannot presume generalizability of our findings nor can we assume causality. Our sample consists largely of upper- middle class U.S. mothers, mostly White, and in mixed- gender marriages. In future research it will be useful to ascer- tain the generalizability of findings across different racial/ ethnic groups, among same- versus other-sex couples, and

among mothers from lower educational and income groups. With regard to causality, our cross-sectional data are correla- tional and there remains the possibility of bidirectional and reverse associations. For example, it is plausible that satisfac- tion with partners leads to greater physical intimacy rather than the reverse.

Limitations of our work are offset by several strengths. The dataset is relatively unique in its oversampling of a group known to face particularly high time pressures in managing household management tasks (i.e., well-educated mothers) (Christensen and Schneider 2010; Jacobs and Gerson 2004; Offer 2014; Kalil et al. 2012; Ramey and Ramey 2010). Measures were psychometrically sound and data analyses so- phisticated, with multiple imputation of missing values. In addition, it is worth reiterating that the associations between household management and women’s adjustment were seen after controlling for educational level, employment status, and number of children, so that it was not just the mothers without paid employment, nor the majority who were employed, nor just those with three or more children, for whom this dimen- sion was linked with negative adjustment.

Most importantly, ours is one of few studies that has quan- tified what has been called the Binvisible labor^ of mothers (Darrah et al. 2007; Eichler and Albanese 2007; Hochschild 1989; Offer 2014; Shaw 2008), which is implicated in running a household with multiple commitments and chores. Most prior division of labor analyses have involved simply the number of hours that mothers and spouses estimate as having spent on childcare, housework, and so on; few have attempted to capture the mental and emotional dimensions of household labor (Erickson 2005). To our knowledge, studies that have documented high invisible labor among mothers have not sys- tematically tested whether this might have negative repercus- sions for well-being, over and above feelings of low emotional and physical intimacy in the marriage, nor have they exam- ined different aspects of household management including financial responsibilities.

The importance of further research on this construct is also seen in findings on U.S. Millennial fathers who are reportedly much more involved in caring for children compared to prior generations of fathers (30% in 2015 versus 25% in 2011; Harrington et al. 2016). Even as most Millennial fathers be- lieve that men should in fact share equally in childcare, many of them reported that their main reason for undertaking childcare was to Bhelp^ their spouse, perceiving themselves to be Bback up^ rather than primary caregivers; one in three fathers reported believing that their spouses should provide the majority of childcare (Harrington et al. 2016).

As such, we hope that in future research on division of household labor, scientists will more fully consider the psy- chological aspects of being responsible as the primary house- hold manager along with actual hours spent on household tasks and multitasking, as well as the proportion of earned

Sex Roles

income contributed by each partner. Aside from considering the division of household labor from the perspectives of mothers themselves as well as their partners, it would also be useful to incorporate measures more sensitive to everyday patterns such as daily diaries.

Practice Implications

From a practice standpoint, it would seem useful to heighten awareness among today’s mothers of the degree to which and areas in which they might unwit t ingly shoulder disproportionate household responsibilities as compared to men, along with the potential fallouts. As Ahn et al. (2017) have argued, given that society expects women more so than men to be communal, women may tend to take on more in- visible work in the service of others, and this tendency may spread beyond the household and into the work setting as well. Consistent with this suggestion and as an example, research has shown that among married/partnered physicians with chil- dren, women spend the equivalent of a full work day per week on domestic activities as compared with men (Jolly et al. 2014), and when both partners were employed, were about three times as likely as men to take time off when childcare arrangements were disrupted (Dyrbye et al. 2011). At the same time, in the work setting, female physicians provide better quality care to patients than men do (Tsugawa et al. 2017), and in a range of professional settings, women are more likely to take on communal and invisible labor to keep the workplace running smoothly (Heilman and Chen 2005; Holt and Lewis 2009; Kanter 1993). Thus, there are likely psychological and emotional costs linked with shouldering such additional responsibilities at work that should be ac- knowledged and mitigated.

Additionally, the present findings on dimensions of intima- cy support the importance of Bmothering mothers^ (Luthar and Ciciolla 2016, p. 1820). Reviews of resilience research have repeatedly shown that to foster the well-being of chil- dren, especially when under stress, it is essential that mothers receive the nurturance, care, and replenishment that they are expected to put out for so many others (Luthar and Eisenberg 2017). Among well-educated, employed mothers contending with high demands both at home and at work, our intervention research has shown that the ongoing availability of reliable authentic connections in mothers’ everyday work settings can significantly reduce caregiving burnout and parenting stress, while improving mental health and even reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Luthar et al. 2017). It would seem useful, therefore, for society to consider not just the magnitude of responsibilities mothers take on at home and at work, but equally, the degree to which mothers have oppor- tunities to prioritize and make time for authentic connections with others to replenish themselves.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the results of our study underscore the need for greater societal recognition of invisible labor among mothers, particularly labor associated with caregiving. When women feel disproportionately responsible for ensuring the well- being of their children, in relation to their partners, there can be associated strains on the mother’s personal well-being as well as her satisfaction with the marriage. Ultimately, greater acknowledgement that the invisible burden of household man- agement is in fact real, with associated costs for adjustment, can be beneficial for mothers themselves, for the quality of their marriages, and inevitably, for the well-being of children for whose care they are primarily responsible.

Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Masters and Doctoral students in Luthar’s prior lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, and funding by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA014385; R13MH082592). This work was supported with funds from Authentic Connections.

Author’s Contributions LC performed the statistical analysis, participat- ed in the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. SSL conceived of the study and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding This research was supported with funding by the National Institutes of Health (R01DA014385; R13MH082592).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest The authors report no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institu- tional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Study oversight was obtained from Arizona State University Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Publisher’s Note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdic- tional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Sex Roles

  • Invisible Household Labor and Ramifications for Adjustment: �Mothers as Captains of Households
    • Abstract
    • Captain of Household Management
    • Method
      • Sample and Procedure
      • Measures
        • Household Management
        • Emotional Intimacy
        • Physical Intimacy
        • Satisfaction with Partner
        • Parenting Role Overload
        • Overall Life Satisfaction and Emptiness
    • Results
      • Handling Missing Data
      • Measuring Household Labor
      • Descriptive Data
      • Regression Analyses
        • Relative Contributions of the Four Sets of Predictors to the Different Outcomes
        • Supplementary Analyses
    • Discussion
      • Division of Household Management
      • Potential Mechanisms
      • Managing the Household Versus Finances
      • Dimensions of Intimacy
      • Limitations and Future Directions
      • Practice Implications
      • Conclusions
    • References