Better – What Science Says About Housework And Sexuality
I picked up this book on marital relationships right after the holidays, and I’ve been reading it slowly, a few pages at a time. However, I was often struck by the way couples’ sex lives seem to be entwined with the mundane affairs of life.
A major predictor of sexual satisfaction is household chores, especially how couples negotiate the division of labor. At this point, it is well known that even married working women do twice as much housework as their husbands – even if they are paid the same or more. In her book, For Better, specifically the chapter “Chore Wars,” Tara Parker Pope discusses how negotiating chores affects partner satisfaction and the frequency of sex.
When both partners are satisfied with the division of labor, especially if the wife feels it is a fair division, the couple is likely to have sex once a month more than other couples. This may not sound like much, but in the scheme of relationship happiness, this extra sex actually makes a big contribution. This is also discussed in For a Better Life, and if you’re interested in learning more about sexual frequency and how it correlates with relationship satisfaction, I suggest you pick up this book. But what I’m trying to say is this.
As for housework, the interesting point is that it doesn’t matter if the division of housework is *actually* 50/50 between the partners, what matters is that the wife thinks it’s a fair division of labor. If she’s satisfied with her husband’s efforts for the chores, she’s more likely to want to have sex with him. The author asserts that this is because she appreciates her husband’s concern for her and looking out for her, but I think the more likely response is that women with more leisure time are less likely to be tired of having sex.
Other things discussed in this book include the impact of gender roles on relationships (by comparing same-sex couples to opposite-sex couples), how successful couples handle arguments, how money can affect your marital happiness, and how a little independence can go a long way in keeping a relationship healthy. If you enjoy reading pop psychology books with strong evidence behind their assertions, I highly recommend this book. It’s not preachy, and it very elegantly examines assumptions rooted in gender roles-supportive and critical of both men and women, with no hatred or bashing of men. Happy reading!
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