Note to all married men: If you want more sex, don’t do the housework. At least, don’t do all the housework. A new study by the University of Washington suggests that married men and women who divide household chores in more traditional ways report having more sex that couples who share “men’s” and “women’s” work.
While other studies have found that husbands get more sex when they do more housework, those studies did not factor in what types of jobs the husbands were doing.
The new study, put together by sociologists at the University of Washington, shows that sex isn’t a bargaining chip — you do more chores, you get more sex — as former studies implied. Rather, sex is linked to what types of chores each spouse does.
Couples who follow traditional gender roles around the house — such as wives doing to cooking, cleaning, and shopping; men taking care of the yard maintenance and taking care of the bills and cars — reported greater sexual frequency.
“The results show that gender still organizes quite a bit of everyday life in marriage,” said co-author Julie Brines, a University of Washington associate professor of sociology. “In particular, it seems that the gender identities husbands and wives express through the chores they do also help structure sexual behavior.”
But lest men think they’re off the hook in the “helping out around the house” department, lead author Sabino Kornrich warns, “Men who refuse to help around the house could increase conflict in their marriage and lower their wives’ marital satisfaction.” In other words, the study’s findings do not exempt men from not cooking, cleaning, or performing other “traditionally female household tasks.”
The authors surveyed about 4,500 heterosexual married couples in the United States via the National Survey of Families and Households. Researchers found that husbands, average aged 46, and wives, average age 44, spent a combined average of 34 hours a week on traditionally female chores. Couples spent an additional 17 hours a week on traditionally male responsibilities.
Other findings suggested that wives help out with men’s chores more often than husband’s help out with women’s tasks.
Marriages in which the wife reported taking care of all the traditionally female tasks reported having sex 1.6 times more per month that other couples, who reported having sex about five times per month, on average.
Brines, an expert in family and household dynamics, said that it wasn’t surprising that sexual activity was tied to the division of household chores. “If anything surprised us, it was how robust the connection was between a traditional division of housework and sexual frequency.”
Researchers found it important to note that husbands did not feel that helping out with female tasks was a means of getting sex, since couples reported similar levels of satisfaction in their sex lives whether or not they followed traditional chore delegation. The study also notes that religion, ethic, and individual’s sexual practices did not play a role in the findings.
“Marriage today isn’t what it was 30 or 40 years ago, but there are some things that remain important,” Brines said. “Sex and housework are still key aspects of sharing a life, and both are related to marital satisfaction and how spouses express their gender identity.”
The study, which was co-authored by Katrina Leupp, a University of Washington doctoral student in sociology, was published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review.
Do you think that division of household chores based on traditional gender roles effects your sex life?
[Image via Shutterstock]