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Men who do housework get less sex

13:00 Fri Feb 1 2013
Kimberly Gillan
Thinkstock

Couples who stick to the "traditional" household chores for men and women enjoy more sex, according to a controversial new study.

Despite the modern man being encouraged to cook and clean and women taking to DIY, the study suggests that the role reversal could actually impact on sex life.

In the study, published in the February journal American Sociological Review, couples who followed traditional gender roles — like wives doing the cooking and cleaning while men stick to yard work and paying bills — reported greater sexual frequency.

"It seems that the gender identities husbands and wives express through the chores they do also help structure sexual behaviour," said co-author Julie Brines, associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

The researchers studied 4500 married couples who were surveyed between 1992 and 1994 –– the latest US data available about sexual frequency in married couples.

Wives who did more "female" tasks reported having sex 1.6 times more than couples where the husband did most of the cooking, washing and cleaning.

The researchers said their findings weren't related to husbands being sexually coercive, as the wives reported similar sex satisfaction, regardless of how much house work they did.

"Marriage today isn't what it was 30 or 40 years ago, but there are some things that remain important," Brines said. "Sex and housework are still key aspects of sharing a life, and both are related to marital satisfaction and how spouses express their gender identity."

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a sex researcher from the University of Melbourne, told MSN NZ we needn't revert to 1950s gender roles.

"I am somewhat skeptical of the study because they just looked at one factor that may contribute to why couples have or don't have sex, but in individual couples there is a number of reasons why they are having as much sex or as little sex as they are," she said.

"We don't know everything about these couples' sex lives, we just know data as related to amount of domestic work. Linking that directly to the amount of sex had, that makes me nervous."

Past studies have found the opposite –– that men who assist with household chores are more likely to be rewarded sexually by their wives.

"The idea of a man helping around the house and this idea of being an equal relationship and potentially less exploited … may make women want to have sex," Dr Rosewarne said.

Infrequent sex between couples has also been related to fatigue, so Rosewarne said it's possible the women studied did not have demanding careers.

"If you have time for housework you potentially don't have an incredibly demanding employed job," she said.

"When you look at studies of couples who don't have sex or have sex less, one of the reasons is often that they are tired. So potentially if you are not in a very demanding job, you may have more time freed up and more emotional resources."