Do the dishes, have less sex?

A new study claims that couples with traditional domestic roles get busy more often -- but are they enjoying it?

Topics: Sex, Love and Sex, Gender, Gender Roles,

Do the dishes, have less sex? (Credit: Belinka via Shutterstock)

If you hang out on the Internet long enough all things become true. Just over three years ago, I wrote about a survey purporting to find that the more housework a married man does, the more nookie he “gets.” And now we have a new study reporting that the more housework a man does, the less sex he has — at least that’s how most news outlets are reporting it. Don’t you just love it when science allows you to pick and choose research that aligns with your worldview?

The study — which bears the super-sexy title “Egalitarianism, Housework, and Sexual Frequency in Marriage” — looked at data on more than 4,000 heterosexual married couples in the U.S. If you actually read it — I know, wild concept — you discover that the researchers looked at the division of “traditionally female” versus “traditionally male” household chores (i.e., washing dishes versus auto maintenance) and found that “both husbands and wives in couples with more traditional housework arrangements report higher sexual frequency.” Says co-author Julie Brines, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington, “The results show that gender still organizes quite a bit of everyday life in marriage.”



But here’s one important thing this study doesn’t measure: sexual pleasure. “Although sexual frequency is correlated with sexual satisfaction, the correlation is far from perfect,” says the report. It’s possible that couples with less traditional household roles have less but more satisfying sex — the researchers, to their credit, address this possibility and call on further investigation into the pleasure question. While the white coats get busy with that, it wouldn’t hurt the rest of us to meditate on that whole quality-over-quantity thing when it comes to sex.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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