Will men helping with chores lead to more action in bedroom?

vacuum morguefileResearch shows that when men do their share of the chores, divorce rates are lower, their partners are happier and less depressed, the relationship has fewer conflicts, and they tend to have more sex. The last point seems to be the most written about, as in “help with the laundry to get more sex.” More on that in a bit.

Being an active, involved father has its own share of benefits, both for men and their children. Participating in childcare helps to make Dads more patient and empathic, and it reduces rates of substance abuse in men. Fatherhood is correlated with lower blood pressure and less cardiovascular disease. Active fathers in Fortune 500 companies have higher job satisfaction. (See NYT article below.)

Benefits to children of involved fathers are numerous: fewer behavioral problems, more likely to succeed, happier kids. Dads who do an equal share of housework demonstrate to daughters that they shouldn’t limit themselves to stereotypically female jobs. “For a girl to see that she has the same opportunities as boys, it makes a big difference to see Dad doing the dishes,” say Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in the New York Times article “How men can succeed in the boardroom and the bedroom.”

With all these advantages, it’s a wonder that husbands everywhere aren’t tripping over themselves to load the dishwasher and vacuum the family room. However, it’s the talk of “choreplay” that leads some women feeling a little less than, umm, satisfied.

The latest high-profile conversations are telling men that helping out in the kitchen will lead to greater action in the bedroom. And maybe it will. But probably not if they are looking at it in a quid-pro-quo fashion.

Jessica Valenti explains the rub in her article “Women don’t need ‘choreplay’. They need men to do some chores.” She explains,” My husband does not do laundry because he wants to have sex. He does the laundry for the same reason I imagine most people do: because the clothes are dirty.”

Men should be involved in the home and promoting domestic equality because it’s the right thing to do—not as an incentive for sex, she explains. While the laundry-for-sex campaign is meant to be cute, Valenti says “in a culture where men are already taught to feel entitled to women sexually, I don’t find it cute in the least.” In addition, it creates a transactional view of sex within the relationship. (Should women also provide sex for new furniture?) It also communicates that the responsibility for all the chores was on the woman in the first place.

The truth about what women want is closer to this: women don’t want to be so exhausted with work and home responsibilities that they no longer have energy for sex. They are turned on by loving men who view them as equals and want to be helpful at home and supportive of their efforts outside the home.

So, yeah, husbands should help in the kitchen. But not as an exchange for sex in the bedroom. Helping with the kids and in the home is the responsibility of both partners. Men who do their share of chores will have happier wives, fewer conflicts, lower rates of divorce, and yeah, probably more sex. Go forth and vacuum.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 19 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

7 responses to “Will men helping with chores lead to more action in bedroom?

  1. I’m confused.

    To quote from page 18 of the study that you are referring to (page 43 of the review it was published in): “our findings stand in marked contrast to the published claim motivating this study: that husbands who do more housework get more sex”

    The study proved that the more core housework a husband does, the less sex they have….not more…

  2. I have also heard that part of the study that says husbands that do more housework do NOT get more sex. I assumed it could be cause partially by husbands in a sex-starved marriage are desperate to do anything for more sex and will try most anything. More chores may lead to more sex if the main issue blocking the wife being willing for more sex is that she is overloaded and exhausted. I am sure there are marriages like that and it probably does help the situation. But if the wife is withholding sex because she thinks it is bad or her job is to make sure not too much lustful sex enters the marriage, then the husband doing more chores won’t lead to more sex. It probably leads to an even more frustrated husband and a wife that might just feel things are going well.

  3. Yes, the studies prove that men who do more chores actually get less sex, largely because they are undercutting the male/female polarity that serves as the basis for attraction. This has been known for quite some time. As to the stuff about daughters/stereotypically feminine roles/male entitlement–well, this is feminist rubbish that not even the women believe, as gauged by how they act.

  4. Having been the stay at home parent, it is interesting to hear this exchange. Men who are primary care givers also get the additional chores that most women would not do such as the yard, roof, and vehicles. This does applies to both men and women as stay at home spouse – stay at home parent, spouse, dad, mom- so tired of the need to wrap those words around a parent.

    My was the spouse who made messes on her way in and out the door that if a male were to do would get the riot act. Being raised in the military and on my own while still in high school, I learned how to keep a home for myself and that was helpful caring for an infant and two year old. I have known men who did not really understand the mechanics of a “home.” I have scene how the primary income earner can believe they are entitled to not have to do chores since they pay the bills.

    I am glad to hear some reasonable conversation on the sex exchange for services and goods. I myself find that sort of reward insulting. Having been the stay at home, I understand how it goes when the spouse comes home and really does not understand the work involved in infant and young children along with all involved with keep a home which is undervalued. Sad thing is, babies and house work has a tendency to kill that itch at times and for my self, contributing to chores wd have been less appreciated than dinner and a hotel room.

  5. To many chores inSide the home=Sex killer! Sure I believe in washing the dishes occasionally, tidying the house, or picking up some responsiblity- but to much will spin it into the ground. Focus on outside chores! Take the trash out, Mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage, cleaning the flower beds, gutters, etc. women love the thrill of capturing the heart of a lion/macho man- but once she has captured him, she wants to turn him into a pantsie, and then they wonder why it all went to he–! I experienced this first hand. No I’m not a Dorito loving couch potatoe! I carry my responsibilities well! I will never be tamed!

  6. I think the idea of sex within a marriage is far too complex to be broken down into Do-Chores-Get-Sex. There are so many other circumstances that could lead to more or less sex that a study focusing on just one of those circumstances lacks context.

    My marriage was much happier once my husband started helping out with basic chores like loading and unloading the dishwasher, wiping down the kitchen and occasionally cleaning the bathroom. It lessened my stress immensely and made me feel like his mother, just around to pick up after him. And I don’t take his help for granted. I make sure I express my appreciation for his help. We argue less, our free time is more equal and we’re happier overall.

    But I don’t particularly like this idea of woman chores vs man chores. Women do things in the house while men do things outside. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly in my house. My husband will load the dishwasher just like I’ll go trim with the weed wacker. Chores are chores. I don’t see why we have to give them gender designations.

  7. Thanks for all the great comments!

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