Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Sciences (MSFS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Jason D. Hans


Several socio-structural theoretical approaches attempt to explain the gendered division of household labor, but the dyadic process of dividing labor has gone largely unexplored. Therefore, a grounded theory approach was taken with 20 dual-earner married couples to uncover the process of dividing household labor between spouses. The theory that emerged indicated that couples seek to maximize benefits in their distribution of labor, and do so by dividing tasks according to personal preferences and proficiencies. When a household task goes unclaimed by both spouses’ preferences and proficiencies, containment and outsourcing are the strategies employed to minimize the impact of the unclaimed task. The emergent theory can be used by researchers to illuminate the dyadic process of division of household labor in ways that other theories are not able. The theory can also be used by educators to prepare premarital couples for future division of household labor practices as well as by therapists who can identify problematic patterns within clients’ division of household labor process.