Couples who split housework have ‘more frequent and satisfying sex’: study

Putting effort in around the house can reap rewards in the bedroom.
Putting effort in around the house can reap rewards in the bedroom. AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

It’s likely you or someone you know is stuck in a seemingly constant battle over cooking, cleaning, laundry (the list goes on) with their significant other. Turns out, a balance of chores and household duties between partners makes for happier times in the bedroom, according to new research.

“When men made a fair contribution to housework the couple enjoyed more frequent and satisfying sex for both partners,”said co-author Matthew Johnson, assistant professor in the University of Alberta’s department of human ecology.

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Using data gathered over a five-year span from more than 1,300 couples for the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationship and Family Dynamics, Johnson and his fellow researchers looked at:

  • How much housework men did, as reported by both partners,
  • Whether the men felt they were making a fair contribution to housework,
  • How frequently the couple had sex, and how satisfied each partner was.

In the end, researchers found squabbles over chores, especially over time, can put a damper on getting hot and heavy.

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“If one partner isn’t doing his or her fair share around the house, one of two things is likely to happen: one is that the other partner is picking up the slack and doing those tasks for that person, or the tasks just aren’t getting done.”

“So either of those scenarios, especially if it’s a pattern of behaviour that continues to occur time and time again, is likely to create bitterness and ill will between partners,” Johnson said.

The Alberta researchers’ work was prompted by a study that made waves a few years back for stating that men who do more “traditionally female” chores had less sex. Johnson didn’t quite buy it.

“The findings seemed counter-intuitive and I thought there might be more to the story,” Johnson said.

The researchers aptly titled their findings, Skip the Dishes? Not So Fast! Sex and Housework Revisited, recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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“At a very basic level, by doing your fair share around the house you prevent feelings of anger, bitterness and feeling disrespected, from piling up between partners,” Johnson said.

“So when there’s an opportunity for a sexual encounter to unfold, if these negative feelings are absent then the likelihood of that happening is greater.”

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He also noted that a division of housework looks different for every relationship, and said couples should avoid trying to achieve some sort of “ideal” that doesn’t work for them.

“Couples would be better suited to have an honest conversation about what a fair contribution looks like for both partners, and then strive to meet that standard.”

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