Thursday, March 27, 2008


By Dr. Laura Berman

Say goodbye to French maid costumes. If you want to increase the amount of sex in your relationship, hand the duster to your man!

A recent survey featured in Parenting magazine has found that 15% of women are aroused when their partners pitch in around the house. Additionally, a 2006 study found that men who helped with household chores were more attractive to their spouses.

Why is this? Well, aside from the fact that some of us simply enjoy the sight of a man in an apron, it could be that women love their own version of Mr. Clean because it gives us a chance to take a much-needed break. Even though the majority of women now work outside the home, most of us still perform the bulk of household chores.

Indeed, a U.K. survey found that women who are coupled performed 15 hours of housework a week, while similarly coupled men only perform 5 hours of housework a week. (The survey also found that being part of a couple increases a woman's workload by 5 hours a week, while coupled men experience a decrease in the amount of chores they perform.) Thus, once a man leaves behind the bachelor's life, the woman begins to pick up the slack (and the socks!).

While it is unfair to ask a woman to do more hours of housework a week simply because she is a woman, most people find that this gender role is hard to escape... and women themselves are not blameless in how these roles play out in their relationships. After all, so-called "man" chores, like cutting the grass, changing the oil, or taking out the trash are still often relegated to the male of the species. Not to mention, some women suffer from the "do-it-all" syndrome, which further prevents them from handing over the mop.

Indeed, being in charge of the household chores means that we get to be in control-we get to decide how the towels are folded, where the mop resides, and when to dust. Sharing the chores with our spouse means relinquishing some of this control, which can be difficult for those of us who like things to be done "just so." Unfortunately, by refusing to share household responsibilities and adding more things on to our plate, we are increasing our own stress level and putting strain on our relationships. Women need to be willing to hand over the mop once in a while, even if it means that the floor isn't as perfect and shiny as when we mop it!

But what happens if your partner isn't willing or eager to share the mopping duties? Positive reinforcement does much more good than nagging. If you want your partner to wipe up his dinner crumbs, ask him once and then leave it alone. When and if he cleans up after himself, reward him with his favorite treat... in the bedroom. Within a couple months, house cleaning will be akin to the ringing of Pavlov's bell, and the sound of a vacuum might just get him drooling!

Remember, a partner who loves and respects you will agree to pitch in more around the house (after all, it's his mess, too), and when you tell him the reward will be a less-stressed environment and more sex for him... you might just have to drag him away from the dirty dishes!

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