New research suggests men may want to consider washing more dishes or doing an extra load of laundry as a way to have more and better sex.
Investigators from the University of Alberta discovered that couples enjoyed more frequent and satisfying sex for both partners when men made a fair contribution to housework.
The same study also found there’s no relationship between the amount of housework male partners completed and the sexual functioning of a couple.
The new study contradicts a widely reported 2012 US study that stated that when men perform what is regarded traditionally as female housework — things like doing the dishes, cooking, and laundry — the couple had less sex.
The new finding, however, does not surprise experts.
The first study didn’t ring true, said Dr. Matt Johnson, a family ecology professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta. “It didn’t fit with my intuition and background experiences as a couples therapist.”
Johnson pored over data from a five-year study of 1,338 German couples to see if the amount of housework the male partner did was a predictor of a couple’s sex life. He didn’t find any connection.
He also looked at men’s perception of whether they made a fair contribution to housework, and how that was related to their sex life.
“In any relationship, the amount of housework is going to mean something different based on the couple’s context, based on their own expectations for what each partner should be doing, and their comparison levels of what happens with other couples they know,” Johnson said.
He found that when men perceived their contributions to the division of labor as fair, the couple engaged in more frequent sex and both male and female partners were more satisfied with their sex life.
Johnson acknowledged there are cultural differences between Germany and the U.S. and explained that Germany tends to have more traditional gender roles than the U.S. And, some studies have found that men, on average, tend to do less housework in Germany.
“There are cultural differences but if the logic held from the prior studies, we would have expected to have a more pronounced negative impact of housework on sexuality in Germany because it’s a bit more traditional. But that wasn’t the case at all,” said Johnson.
He added that the findings are important for couples seeking to maintain sexual intimacy while balancing the demands of daily life.
The lesson may be that equitable sharing of duties helps both parties feel good about their relationship.
“Rather than avoiding chores in the hopes of having more sex, as prior research would imply, men are likely to experience more frequent and satisfying passion for both partners between the sheets when they simply do their fair share.”
The paper will appear in print in a future issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.