HOUSEWORK AND SEX: IS IT TIT FOR TAT?
Copyright 2008 by Neil Chethik – www.NeilChethik.com
Joseph Fields of Lexington , Ky. , knows that if he wants to boost his chances of having sex with his wife, he can buy her roses and chocolates. But if he wants to be sure of a romantic evening, he goes for the Brillo pads. “My wife has told me that she's never more turned on to me than when I'm doing housework,” says Fields, a thirty-nine-year-old guidance counselor. “And she's proven it again and again.”
For years, American women have hinted that the combination of husbands and housework is a potent aphrodisiac. Now, for the first time, a scientific survey of American men affirms the connection. According to a new national study of 300 husbands conducted for my book, VoiceMale , the happier a wife is with her husband's participation in housework, the more sex she has with him.
How much more sex? On average, about once a month more. That may not seem like a lot. But for those couples who are in the throes of child-rearing – when sex happens only occasionally anyway – the once-a-month bump can mean twice as much sex as is typical for them.
And that's only the beginning of the power of housework. In the VoiceMale Survey (conducted in conjunction with the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center), I asked husbands whether they thought the division of housework was fair in their marriage, and whether their wives thought it was fair. When both partners think things are fair, here are just three of the most compelling results:
Wives are less likely to have affairs.
Couples are less likely to consider separation or divorce.
Couples are more likely to be happily married overall.
What's going on here? Michael Gurian, author of several books on gender differences, says that because of cultural expectations, women generally carry the burden of ensuring that their home is clean. So when their husbands take it upon themselves to do their fair share, wives feel appreciated and appreciative. It's no surprise, then, that she is more likely to be appreciative in return.
Gurian says most wives probably are not conscious about trading sex for housework. They just “feel a distance” when he does no housework. A woman, Gurian adds, “also feels like she has to become a mom and dominate (her husband) to get him to help her out. Why would she want to have sex with someone who makes her feel like that?”
Interestingly, according to my study, men usually don't have to do half of the housework to make their wives happy. They just need to do enough so that she feels supported. The exact amount may be negotiated based on the hours each partner spends on paid work, yard work, and other contributions to the family home-making.
And for men who absolutely hate housework, there's a potential out: Hire a housekeeper. In the short-run, of course, this costs money. But, according to the VoiceMale Survey, it may be money well-invested, not only because of her higher interest in sex.
It turns out that when both partners are happy with the housework, the couple is half as likely to seek marital therapy. Thus, in some cases at least, couples can pay a house-cleaner now, or a marriage counselor down the road.
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Neil Chethik is a writer and speaker. He is author of FatherLoss: How sons deal with the deaths of their dads (Hyperion) and VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think of Their Wives (Simon & Schuster). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.NeilChethik.com .
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