Science says husbands who do housework report higher sexual satisfaction. I know. Every woman is probably rolling her eyes for a few reasons, but mostly because there are a number of husbands out there who still think doing the dishes should result in immediate sex. I know this because I was (gasp) once one of those husbands.
When I first got married 14 years ago, I assumed that doing housework was the sexiest thing I could do (which is partly true). But where I went wrong was my assumption that any effort to do what had been for so long seen as “women’s work” should result in immediate sex. Because, honestly. Why else would I do it?
Well… for starters, perhaps I could do housework because I live there too? Perhaps I could do housework because we live in an egalitarian age where men and women share household duties equally. Perhaps I could do housework because my wife isn’t a servant and parenting, marriage, all of it, is a partnership? For all those reasons and more, I later learned that I needed to do housework because that’s what good husbands do — they share the load — and sex really didn’t have all that much to do with it.
The reason I bring all this up is because I don’t want the study I am about to share to result in men doing dishes, and then looking at their wives and expecting sex. Nor do I want women to think that they owe their husbands sex because they did housework. That’s not how it works. Sorry, guys. Deal with it. But what I do want to say is that, according to science, if housework is shared equally, both partners express an increase in sexual satisfaction. Now that, my friends, is wonderful.
So here are the details. Anne Barrett, the director of Florida State University’s Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, co-authored a study published in Social Forces where researchers examined midlife couples, housework, and sexual satisfaction. Barrett helped survey 1,100 married heterosexual couples. The average age was 55, and the average time married was 27 years. They asked them questions about housework balance and how it impacted sexual satisfaction.
What they found was that couples who balance housework equally don’t have, on average, increased sexual frequency. But what they do gain is sexual satisfaction.
So let’s take a step back and look at what this means. If you are a couple who sits down and discusses the needs of your home, finds out who can do what and when, and makes sure that no one is doing all the work while the other sits on the sofa drinking beer and watching TV, then your sex life is more satisfying. Both men and women agreed on this one (awesome, right?).
According to US News and World Report, 57% of married women work full-time outside the home. If you are in a relationship where both partners work full time, and yet the woman in the home is expected to do the majority of the housework, naturally it’s going to cause some animosity in the bedroom. And to be honest, isn’t that just common sense? I mean, honestly, who wants to have sex with someone who is giving you the shaft (sorry, bad analogy, but you get what I’m saying).
Look, many men are more than happy to pitch in around the home. I know I am, and I must say, the majority of 2018 fathers I know are the same way. But the reality is there’s still the social shame of having a messy house, and the person who is most often blamed is the mother. But, if that social burden is being lifted as a team, there are clearly some sexual benefits.
Now keep in mind that this study looked at couples who had been together for some time. The researchers did note that housework equality didn’t just happen overnight, but rather over years of negotiations between couples. Barrett suggested in her study that “couples come up with solutions that both view as equitable and alter those over the course of [their] marriage.” But the most important part was that both parties felt that the distribution was equitable, regardless of the logistics, and once that was established, sexual satisfaction followed.
So how do you know if the housework load is equal? Well… that can be a tricky question. Sometimes even the most significant contributions can go unnoticed.
Dr. Richard Catanzaro, chairman of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. suggested in US News and World Report that couples “sit down and talk about whether you’re both doing your fair share. Have a discussion with your partner, who may not realize everything that you’re doing. And if you have kids, remember, you’re modeling behaviors and teaching expectations to them.”
That last line really hits home, doesn’t it? But here’s the thing: if you treat your marriage as a partnership, openly communicate about household expectations and duties, and share them equally, you will set a good example of partnership, marriage, and duties for your children, and your sex life will become more rewarding. In a nutshell, that’s what this study found. And you know what? That’s like having your cake and eating it too, don’t you think?