There’s an interesting article in the NYtimes about a study that concludes egalitarian couples– that is, couples where both parties earn an income, and participate equally in household drudgery and child rearing– have less sex. These egalitarian couples have sex a whopping 1.5 fewer times per month than non-egalitarian couples. Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed by this difference. Honestly, what’s the difference between having sex 20 times per month, vs. 18.5 times per month? Perhaps a counter study should be done to determine the differing sexual habits of couples in clean houses vs. couples in untidy houses. Because it could simply be that couples in clean houses spend that much more time, and energy, cleaning, vs. banging each other in the bedroom (assuming a cleaning lady is not involved (with the cleaning)).
But even if we accept that 1.5 fewer times per month is a significant divergence: what could be the reasons? The article concludes that women are turned off by men who clean– even though they would resent the alternative– men putting all the cleaning misery on female shoulders. Women, says the gray lady, like seeing men sweaty and muscular, not emasculated by pushing around a mop. While I’m pretty sure the cleaning husbands just happen to live in households where finite energies and attentions are paid to cleaning, there are other possibilities. Perhaps the kind of person– both male and female– drawn to an egalitarian partnership has a lower sex drive to begin with. Perhaps women who expect (demand?) that their husband clean their half of the house are bitchier, more frigid, or more likely to withhold sex than their oppressed non-egalitarian female counterparts.
However, when a man performs traditionally male household chores, like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, a positive sexual correlation is noted: those couples have sex at a 17.5% higher frequency. But again, perhaps the men eager to do the heavy lifting are more virile to begin with, with higher sex drives; the causal impact is unclear.
My own non-expert conclusion is that it all comes down to sex drive. If a person is driven to have sex, they will attempt to do so, whether their spouse wields a mop, or demands they wield a mop, or not. The lesser the sex drive, the shakier and more easily disrupted the potential attraction is between a particular man and woman. This would hold true even in couples where one has a high sex drive but the other does not. If the party with the weaker sex drive is upset or put off by whatever detail, they will be far quicker to withhold sex than the partner who is desperate for sex all the time. And there probably is some truth to people in non-strictly-egalitarian marriages simply having higher sex drives to begin with, as they’re likely more attuned to, and accepting of, the “sexual scripts” ingrained on us since caveman days.
I wish I could end this with sound advice for frustrated husbands (it’s usually the husbands). Do you pick up, or put down that mop? Sadly it probably won’t make much difference either way, if you have a wife who’s shutting you down. But since life is more enjoyable in a clean environment vs. one that is strewn with crumbs and detritus, you might as well pick up the mop.