Wednesday, 12 February 2014

So what does this housework and sex study mean for modern husbands

The more similar we are to our partners, the
less we fancy each other.
So I've had time to digest the housework and sex study. There are obviously issues with it; the data is old, and there are questions we'd like to ask. But, taking it on face value, what are the implications for the husband in a modern egalitarian - peer - couple?

The good news is; sharing the chores is good for the relationship! And if you don't share the chores, no sex, and probably no relationship (and quite right too).

However, sharing household chores is bad for your sex life. Since most couples have lives where "manly" chores are not required--no wood to chop, no roof to fix--this is an issue.

The implications depend on which explanation you believe:

Explanations for why doing household chores damages your sex life

Lack of Differentiation

One explanation is "The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.”  The more similar we are to our partners, the less we fancy each other. Lack of differentiation is supposed to explain why monogamous gay couples often run into desire problems. OMG! Are we all Lesbians?

Gender Scripts

Do couples where the man a
successful main provider have more sex?
Another explanation in the original paper is that whether through nature or nurture, sex is inextricably entwined with the old gender roles.

This has disheartening broader implications. Do couples where the man a successful main provider have more sex?

More to argue about

she hated waking up to a messy
room, and it was his
turn to vacuum
This is something I've experienced with Xena. We each have views on each other's chores and whether we are individually pulling our weight. This quote from the New York Times article inadvertently illustrates this:
“I’m very attracted to you,” she said earnestly. “You know when I really crave you? It’s when you’re just back from the gym and you’re all sweaty and you take off your clothes to get in the shower and I see your muscles.”

Her husband countered by saying that this very situation had occurred that morning but that his wife became irritated when he tossed his clothes on the floor, which led to a conversation about his not vacuuming the day before, when she worked late. He had worked late, too, which accounted for the lack of vacuuming, but still — she hated waking up to a messy room, and it was his turn to vacuum.

Three things husbands can do to make things a bit better

People are often uncomfortable with approaching sex pragmatically, as if it's somehow cheating to think about how to get laid. I think, though, the following is of the same order as "have a shave" or "wear clean boxers".

The three (vanilla) possible domestic responses that come to mind are:

#1. Do man stuff when possible

Don't make a fuss about it, don't flag up you're doing it, but if there's a traditionally masculine task on your to-do list, do it soon and do it properly, especially if it's a task that requires skills and strength not possessed by your wife. This potentially nails both the gender scripts and the differentiation issues.

#2. Have different areas of responsibility

Where possible, share out the responsibilities such that you don't overlap. This could help with differentiation and more to argue about.

#3. Do chores to high standards (but don't make a fuss about it)

If you do your chores to a high standard, then your "unmanly" responsibilities will be less obvious. Better, for example, if you are up to date with the vacuuming, then the messy carpet won't distract your wife during a potential sexual encounter. This fixes all three issues, especially more to argue about.

However, if you make a fuss about your high standards, then you are probably making any gender scripts issue worse!

Or you could just introduce some Female Centered Femdom to your relationship!

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