Chores and Sex

A study came out last month that was taken by the media to mean several things.

Some headlines interpreted it to mean that women could get more sex by doing more housework, as if a messy house made men want less sex.

But the other implication the media drew was that men who did more “feminine” chores got less sex.

The particular survey in question found that when husbands and wives performed chores that corresponded to gender norms, they had more sex. When husbands performed traditionally female chores, they had less sex.

Now, I hold a graduate degree in one of the social sciences, so without spending too much time talking about the study itself, I would like to propose a theory.

The study’s authors pointed out that women in the study reported similar levels of satisfaction with their sex lives regardless of how many chores they did. The authors took this as proof that wives who did more chores weren’t adding “sex” to the list of chores they dutifully performed. I think that’s a valid conclusion to draw from the data, but I also think the reality is more nuanced than the data suggest.

The study’s implication is that women are not as sexually attracted to husbands who don’t adhere to traditional gender roles.

My theory is that husbands who did more chores around the house are those who are more attuned to their wives’ happiness and desires, and therefore were more likely to conform to their wives’ sexual desires.

In other words, I don’t think it was the wife saying, “nah, he does too much women’s work.” I think it was the husbands saying “she must not want any right now, I won’t push her.”

I think women reported similar levels of satisfaction regardless of how often they had sex because the difference between the two was small, and any difference would probably be eliminated by a higher level of quality among those couples having less sex. After all, if a couple is only having sex when the woman really wants it, she’s likely to enjoy it more.

Alas, this is all a little silly, since the survey was 20 years ago, and only looked at heterosexual couples. There are a lot of people and years between then and the world we live in today.

Here’s a more in-depth discussion of the study if you’re interested. And here’s a broader look at other research into the phenomenon in general.

All I know is that my wife is very happy when I take on all the chores. They ought to study that…I bet there are quite a few very happy couples who would be willing to be surveyed.


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