for better–what science says about chores and your sex life

Sexual Health 10 years ago (2011) Barbara
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The Science Of A Good MarriageI picked up this book on marriage relationships right after the holidays and I’ve been slowly working through it a few pages at a time.  I was often floored, however, at the way couples sex lives seem entwined in the mundane goings-on of life.

One large predictor of sex life satisfaction was chores, and particularly how couples negotiated dividing them. It’s well established at this point that even married working women do twice as much housework as their husbands–even if they earn the same salary or higher.  In her book, For Better and particularly the chapter “The Chore Wars”, Tara Parker-Pope discusses how chore negotiation affects partner satisfaction and the frequency of sex.

When both partners in a couple were satisfied with the division of labor, and specifically when the wife considered it a fair split, the couple was likely to be having one instance of sexual intercourse more per month than other couples.  This may not sound like much, but in the scheme of relationship happiness, this extra sex actually contributes a great deal.  This is also discussed in For Better, and if you’re interested in finding out more about frequency of sex and how it is correlated with relationship satisfaction, I recommend you pick up this book. But I digress.

As for chores, the interesting point is that it’s not important whether the split is *actually* an equal 50-50 split between both partners–all that matters is that the wife considers it a fair split. If she is happy with the effort her husband contributes toward the household chores, she is more likely to want to have sex with him.  The author asserts that this is because she appreciates that the husband cares for her and is thinking of her–but I think a more likely response is that a woman with more leisure time is less likely to be too tired for sex.

Other things discussed in this book include the influence of gender roles on relationships (by comparing same-sex couples with heterosexual couples), how successful couples handle arguments, how money affects the well-being of your marriage, and how a little independence can go a long way in sustaining the health of your relationship.  I highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading pop psychology books with strong evidence behind its assertions. This book isn’t preachy and it examines assumptions rooted in gender roles very gracefully–giving props and criticism to both men and women, with no man hating or bashing.  Happy reading!

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