How a simple vacuum cleaner can increase the female libido
My wife is more in the mood after I vacuum, wash dishes, etc. Is that the typical reaction, or am I just lucky? How much housework do you think a guy has to do? (Just wondering. I think I figured it out, lol.)
I hope your upcoming article will say my husband should do more housework. ? I do nearly all of it, even though my paid job is just as consuming as his. And now, I’m too tired and resentful to feel like putting out much.
Dear Andy and Elana,
Although science has debunked most aphrodisiacs, there’s nothing like a man with a vacuum in his hand to enhance the female libido. Indeed, the most reliable, least invasive and least costly In-The-Mood booster for women is Housework—done Fairly, willingly, and unasked by their mate.
And although men usually say they value sexual quantity above quality, Fair Share guys don’t have to choose: Women with a Fair Share man not only want more sex—they give better sex.
So Andy, you’re not the only one getting lucky; and Elana, you would indeed feel more like putting out if your man put stuff away.
Perhaps people aren’t connecting the dots, though, because a raft of research shows that even well-educated, fully-employed women continue doing the lioness’ share of domestic drudgery. To wit, in a recent study where spouses wrote down their activities when randomly paged, women were doing 61% of the housework.
What’s the big deal, anyway? (Are men really pigs—women, nags?)
Housework is one of the six most common issues found in both happy and unhappy marriages, for two reasons.
In Exhibit A, we see that more women than men Really, Really Care about the cleanliness of their cave—to the point that they cannot be at peace in a dirty dwelling. Also, science shows that men relax *after* sex, but women need to be relaxed to want to *have* sex. Dirty house = no relaxation = Honey, I’ve Got A Headache.
Yet research shows most men don’t Get that. If the dirt and/or disorder don’t bother them, men reason, why should it bother anyone? And shouldn’t the bothered party clean up? (O, these are the questions that launched a thousand nights on the couch.)
And in Exhibit B, we observe that women commonly assume their spouse’s participation, or lack thereof, is a huge indicator of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, or lack thereof. But is it? That depends.
On the Yes, It’s Disrespectful side stand the men who still consider housework to be women’s work, and/or flat-out refuse to pitch in. Others participate grudgingly, after much encouragement (aka nagging)—creating far more relationship work than they avoid in physical chores. (That’s why *unasked, willing* contribution is the kind that Scores—it’s viewed as much more respectful, and lessens opportunities for, um, encouragement.)
On the No, It’s Not Disrespectful side, men are doing more housework than any prior generation researchers know of, and more than women think they are, albeit less than men believe they’re doing. When asked to estimate their mate’s input in recent research, women guessed men were shirking at 33%, and men gave themselves bonus points at 42% (men’s real contribution was 39%). This shows a basic of human cognition—not male chauvinism: Most of us, most of the time, in most of the world, think we are better than most other people about ‘most everything. Research is rife with examples of this self-serving bias: Adult children typically believe they’re giving Mom and Dad the greatest attention, hospitalized drivers usually think themselves outstanding motorists nonetheless, and most people say they’re less bigoted than most people… But my favorite hails from an informal survey where 87% of respondents believed they would go to heaven—yet only 79% thought Mother Teresa would be there, too.
Ultimately, though, the underlying reason Fair Share housework is a Big Deal is that its absence makes women unhappy. Because when Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy—sexually or otherwise. And that’s a bona fide, research-corroborated fact.
What is Fair Share housework?
So yes, Elana, your husband needs to do more housework, and here is how scientists can tell: Because you think so. Women who feel that their mates are doing a Fair Share are happy. And these happy women are not only more sexually forthcoming, they’re far pleasanter to live with. They pick fewer fights, they are less resentful, and when they do need to bring up an issue, they do it in the gentle manner that is a Win for the marriage rather than just for themselves.
Perhaps, though, sweet women create helpful husbands—right? Although that is doubtless true sometimes, when a man in an unhappy marriage picks up the broom and shows he’s on the same Team with his wife, he sweeps more than cobwebs away. Conversely, simply advising women to let go of their anxiety, hurt feelings and need for cleanliness does *not* work, unless the couple is aiming for celibacy.
But that still leaves us with your question, Andy, about how much is Fair. Must the work be split evenly? Do charts, pie graphs, and perhaps Excel spreadsheets need to be used?
Probably not. Turns out, most women are satisfied with a mate who does less than half the housework, although specifics vary from one couple to the next. For instance, many women think it’s Fair if their mate spontaneously does the chores she hates, unasked, even if those chores are relatively few or light. Scrubbing the toilets and sinks just might be worth half the household effort.
The key to determining Fairness, then, is not a 50-50 split, but simply discussing what the wife considers a fair distribution, and starting there.
Which as you know, Andy, will get you everywhere.
The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists and sources:
Yun-Suk Lee & Linda Waite, for research showing men’s and women’s real and stated contributions to housework/household labor, and for researching what helps women feel appreciated for the housework they do
Ann Oakley, for writing The Sociology Of Housework
March 31, 1997 U.S. News & World Report survey on Who’s Going To Heaven? For the funniest-ever example of the self-serving bias
John Gottman’s The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, for summarizing research on men’s and women’s feelings about housework; the workable solution to the housework problem; and clarifying the housework-sex connection
Shirley Glass’ research on the housework-relaxation-sex connection for women in troubled marriages
All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2010, 2014