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Couples who share housework fairly have more sex, research finds

The study also found that women are more likely to do most of the housework in heterosexual couples than their male partners are, even when they work longer hours and earn more

Siobhan Fenton
Wednesday 22 June 2016 20:51 BST
The study found couples who share chores equally have sex more often than those who don't
The study found couples who share chores equally have sex more often than those who don't

Couples who share household chores fairly have more sex than those who stick to sexist stereotypes, new research has found.

A paper, which is due to be published in a forthcoming edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family, made the discovery after analysing data on a nation-wide 2006 US study of marital satisfaction.

It found that different gender couples who reported sharing housework equally had sex 6.8 times per month on average, compared to around 5 times per month for households in which one partner did the bulk of routine housework. In households with unequal distribution of chores, the person tasked with the most work was almost always female rather than male.

Researchers defined “routine housework” as: preparing and cooking meals, washing dishes, cleaning around the house, shopping for groceries and doing laundry. They found that how frequently couples have sex also increases not only if housework overall is divided fairly, but if the individual chores are not divided by gender stereotypes; such as cooking and cleaning for women and DIY chores for men.

Another striking finding of the study was that despite recent strides in gender equality, women still do the majority of housework in most US households. In 63 per cent of homes, the majority is undertaken by women. This was found to be the case even when women work longer hours and earn more than men.

Paper author Professor Sharon Sassler from Cornell University said of the findings: “Contemporary couples who adhere to a more egalitarian division of labor are the only couples who have experienced an increase in sexual frequency compared to their counterparts of the past.

“Other groups – including those where the woman does the bulk of the housework – have experienced declines in sexual frequency. This finding is particularly notable given reports indicating that sexual frequency has generally declined worldwide over the past few decades.”

Commenting on the study, historian Stephanie Coontz said it reflects how heterosexual couples now experience “more equalized power between men and women”. She said: “Love used to be seen as the attraction of opposites, and each partner in a marriage specialized in a unique set of skills, resources, and emotions that, it was believed, the other gender lacked.

“Today, love is based on shared interests, activities, and emotions. Where difference was once the basis of desire, equality is increasingly becoming erotic.”

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