Researchers claim that couples who stick to traditional gender roles in the home make love 20 times more per year. They found that on average couples have sex five times a month.
But partnerships where the wife does all the household tasks reported having sex 1.6 times more per month on average than those where the husband does all the stereotypical female chores.
Previous research found husbands got more bedroom time if they helped around the home, suggesting that sex was in exchange for housework.
But those studies did not factor in what types of chores the men were doing.
‘Couples in which men participate more in housework typically done by women report having sex less frequently,’ said the study’s lead author Dr Sabino Kornrich.
‘Similarly, couples in which men participate more in traditionally masculine tasks…such as DIY and car maintenance – report higher sexual frequency.
‘Our findings suggest the importance of socialised gender roles for sexual frequency in heterosexual marriage.’
The researchers examined 4,500 heterosexual US marriages involving couples with an average age in their mid-40s.
The study by the University of Washington, published in the American Sociological Review, suggests that adopting traditional gender roles is important to sexual desire.
‘Our definition of attractiveness is linked to the ideal of masculinity and femininity,’ said Dr Kornrich. ‘These ideals are not necessarily the most modern and this may be a hangover of that.’
The scientists ruled out the suggestion that husbands who refused household chores might be more coercive when it came to sex.
‘Wives’ reported satisfaction with their sex life has the same relationship to men’s participation in household labour as sexual frequency,’ said Dr Kornrich.
‘Had satisfaction with sex been low, but frequency high, it might have suggested coercion. However, we didn’t find that.’
But for men hoping to leave all the work to their wives, there was a warning. ‘Men who refuse to help around the house could increase conflict in their marriage and lower their wives’ marital satisfaction,’ said Dr Kornrich.
‘Research has found that women’s marital satisfaction is indeed linked to men’s participation in overall household labour.’
by Susan Floyd