It's often said that money is power. When it comes to love, however, cash doesn't necessarily equal control.

It's often said that money is power. When it comes to love, however, cash doesn't necessarily equal control.

A five-year study of dual-income households in the United States, Spain and Sweden has found that couples often defer to traditional gender roles rather than negotiate breadwinning and domestic duties. Women who work outside the home still do most of the laundry, cooking and other chores at home — an arrangement that's challenged often only when a crisis arises, such as marriage counseling or bankruptcy, researchers discovered.

When the couples were asked how they reached their arrangements, researchers were greeted with blanks looks and explanations that "it just happened that way," said study co-author Janet Stocks, a sociology professor at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

Even when women earn more, they fear emasculating their mates and overcompensate by doing more work at home, she said.

Women are much more conscious than men of the independence money offers, researchers found. "We never heard men talking about independence," Stocks said. "There was never a case when men tied money to independence."

The research is the basis for the book "Modern Couples Sharing Money, Sharing Life," co-authored by Stocks, Capitolina Diaz of the University of Oviedo in Spain and Bjorn Hallerod of Umea University in Sweden.