Sex

Couples who share housework have the most sex, study finds

Aug. 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM ET

Hey, guys, housework is sexy. Younger couples who share household chores equally report the highest quality sex lives, according to a new study. 

The report from researchers at Cornell University and Georgia State University finds that spouses who split work around the house have the most sex, are most satisfied with their frequency of lovemaking, and report the highest quality sex lives. 

In other words, "choreplay" is real.

“If we just look around our culture right now, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that men are turned on by strong, independent women and that women are turned on by men who show a great deal of love and affection and attention to their children and who help out around the house,” Dan Carlson, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University, told TODAY.com.

Couple washing dishes together (PhotoAlto via AP Images)
Eric Audras / AP

The study is based on the results of the 2006 Marital and Relationships Survey of about 600 couples. Almost 90 percent were married, while the rest were living together. The couples had moderate-to-low income, making no more than $50,000 per household a year, and 55 percent had at least some college education. All of them had at least one child living with them.

The new findings contradict a previous study published in the American Sociological Review which found that couples with "traditional household arrangements" — he mows the lawn and fixes the car, she mops and cleans — had more sex. 

Carlson and co-author Sharon Sassler, professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell, note that the previous study relied on data from the late 1980s and early 1990s —“a very different time” — and included elderly couples. 

The average age of both men and women in the new report is 36. 

“So it might be the case that our turn-ons have evolved to also include not just traditional gender behavior but also egalitarian demonstrations of masculinity and femininity,” said Carlson.

While the difference in sexual intimacy between egalitarian couples and conventional couples (where she does the majority of the work) was small, the couples who split chores did have the most sex and were the most satisfied about it, Carlson said. 

The results didn’t change whether the woman worked or not.

The researchers will present the results at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco this weekend, but some of the findings were recently revealed in a brief.

There was one warning: when men did the majority of housework it led to issues with sexual intimacy, with those spouses reporting having the least sex and the least satisfaction with the frequency and quality of their lovemaking.

That may be because some of those couples fall into the arrangement by unforeseen circumstances, like a job loss, rather than by choice, which can lead to unhappiness, Carlson said.

"Part of it might be that couples, because they’re flipping conventions, this sort of confuses their sexual cues,” he added. "These gender behaviors kind of give us cues and can be turn-ons."

But couples these days want to be egalitarian, Carlson emphasized, and if you’re one of them, your love life is probably pretty active and satisfying.

“Everybody wants a great sex life and everybody wants to be in love with their partner,” said Carlson. “So to have a really strong, high quality relationship, I think our results demonstrate that egalitarianism is the most conducive to that.”

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