Human existence depends on the routine activities that feed, clothe, shelter, and care for both children and adults. This family work is just as important to society as outside employment, but tends to be trivialized because it is still considered "women's work."

The number of hours spent in outside employment, wages, and household labor are often cited as factors related to spouses' evaluation of marital quality. Studies have shown that wives' perceptions of marital quality are significantly affected by their own perceptions of fairness in all three areas.

Despite the fact that it is more common for the wife to be the primary breadwinner, wives continue to contribute larger shares to household labor than their husbands. Many studies show that, in general, men assume that housework is primarily the responsibility of mothers, wives, daughters, and female housekeepers. Men's participation in household labor appears optional, with most couples labeling men's contribution as just "helping out."