Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Tallahassee Democrat

Let us mop together, my sweet

So Valentine's Day is next week and you don't know what to get your wife? Do some chores, you big lug. That'll make her hot and bothered.

At least that's what Neil Chethik tells us in his new book, "VoiceMale." Because he's a former Tallahassee Democrat reporter turned ubermensch, we'll buy it.

Chethik surveyed 300 husbands and interviewed 60 more. Among other things, they reported that their wives felt more romantic to them when they pitched in on housework. Women love that equality thing. One guy even said his wife attacked him every time he ran the vacuum cleaner - though Chethik doesn't promise you'll get that result every time you crank up the Hoover.

"More than anything, women want men to be aware and contribute," Chethik said. "It is not sexy to feel like his mother."

Chethik, 48, has become the nation's go-to guy for how men feel. A Democrat reporter from 1979 to 1984, he later wrote a syndicated column about men's issues. His 2001 book, "Father Loss," dealt with how guys feel about the death of their fathers. "VoiceMale" is about how husbands feel about romance, marriage, commitment and, you betcha, sex.

Chethik has been on "Good Morning America" and is in the current issues of Psychology Today, People and the Delta Airlines magazine. "VoiceMale" is aimed at women.

"In the big picture, I was trying to change the image of men as relationship-ally inept," said Chethik, who lives in Lexington, Ky.

As he found, men like romance, commitment, marriage, intimacy - even if they don't let on. He found that 90 percent of married men would marry the same woman again, even if the couple has had problems.

"Men recognize marriage is going to be a roller coaster," Chethik said. "But they're willing to ride it out because they like the company."

One of the book's most surprising findings is that 82 percent of married men are satisfied with their sex lives, even though only 23 percent say their wives share their attitude about frequency of sex.

But, Chethik says, don't underestimate the housework thing. Chethik writes that he and his wife, Kelly, a former Unitarian minister who grew up in Tallahassee, argued about housework. They eventually negotiated a division of duties. Chethik chose the laundry because "I found it involved a lot of sitting, sorting and folding - most of which I could do while watching sports on TV."

Put that in a Valentine card.



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