Sex Studies 1 (of 2 today): Housework

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

According to a study reviewed by Heidi Stevens in today’s Chicago Tribune, the old finding that the man who helped with the housework was less likely to get laid has changed.  I remember reading about those studies, because I helped with the housework and, um, was not happy with frequency of certain activities.

As she puts it: “Today we enjoy ‘an eroticism of fairness,’ meaning an equitable arrangement no longer puts a damper on a couple’s sex life and, in fact, boosts it slightly. Egalitarian couples [where the males does 35 – 65 percent of the housework] had sex an average of 6.8 times per month, the study finds, which is 0.5 times more per month than conventional couples [she does at least 65%] and two times more than counter conventional couples [he does most of it].”

The study she cites is called The Gendered Division of Housework and Couples’ Sexual Relationships: A Reexamination, conducted by Daniel L. Carlson, Amanda J. Miller, Sharon Sassler and Sarah Hanson, which is scheduled to be published in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Richard Wilson, the title character in An Ordinary Man, would not be surprised by the new research as he figured he essentially stopped sleeping with his wife at least in part because of housework:

As far as he could tell, he had stopped sleeping with his wife on account of dirty dishes in the sink. Oh, they still occupied the same bed, but back to back now, with the family dog somewhere happily in between. Once you let anything sleep in or on the marital bed, be it a cat, a dog, or a kid, your sex life is largely over anyway, or at least seriously compromised; how spontaneously romantic can you be after having to negotiate the removal of the interloper? Actually, letting the kids into their bed on a regular basis might have had more to do with his current celibacy than the dirty dishes, but the dirty dishes played a role, and he didn’t want to hate the kids for what they may have done to his marriage, especially since, to some extent, the point of the marriage was to have the kids. The dog was blameless; it would move to the foot if shooed, but one day he noticed his wife didn’t seem to care if the dog slept between them, and this being the same day she had once again forgotten to rinse out the milk glasses before putting them in the dishwasher like he always asked her to, leaving a hard-to-clean residue in the bottom after it cycled, he didn’t care if the dog slept between them either. So maybe it was the dirty dishes after all.

Of course men should do their fair share of the housework, but even if this is a given, women should still factor it into other forms of equality.