Down and dirty: Can housework spice up your relationship?


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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, two recent studies have explored the use of chores to switch on the romance. While scrubbing the tub or watching my significant other throw out the trash has never done it for me, I don’t judge what may work for others. But investigating the relationship between cleaning dirt and getting down and dirty simply cannot be passed up.

The first, a study from the University of Washington, suggests that married couples who split up the housework in traditional ways — think cleaning for women, yard work for men — report having more sex than couples who share men’s and women’s chores. The lesson to be learned? “Sex isn’t a bargaining chip,” according to a press release for the study. “Instead, sex is linked to what types of chores each spouse completes."

“The results show that gender still organizes quite a bit of everyday life in marriage,” said co-author Julie Brines, a UW associate professor of sociology. “In particular, it seems that the gender identities husbands and wives express through the chores they do also help structure sexual behavior.”

Participants reported having sex about five times in the month before the survey. But wives who perform all the traditionally female tasks reported having sex about 1.6 times more per month than those where the husband does.

Which is not to say that the married men out there shouldn’t cook or clean:

“Men who refuse to help around the house could increase conflict in their marriage and lower their wives’ marital satisfaction,” said lead author Sabino Kornrich.

The study surveyed about 4,500 heterosexual married U.S. couples participating in the "National Survey of Families and Households."

Now on to the survey conducted by Liquid-Plumr, which found that doing household chores can actually up the romance in a relationship — but not in the way you think. It’s more about fantasizing than watching your partner scrub the floor.

In the survey of 1,000 women ages 18 and older, a third of respondents said they fantasize about their spouse/boyfriend while doing housework. About as many women said they fantasize while commuting or out with girlfriends. The takeaway: Women fantasize about their significant other during lots of daily activities, including cleaning.

"Without needing to have hot plumbers literally visit their house, women are finding ways to solve household problems and make them more enjoyable," said Kelly Dwinells, marketing manager for Liquid-Plumr. "Being on top of chores not only resulted in clear drains and scuff free floors, but women also reported they felt less stress, were less distracted and more relaxed."

Now here’s the real fun finding: 49% of respondents were more likely to be “in the mood” after completing chores. A clean house plus intimacy? Score!

In conclusion, we beg of you, please do not give your girlfriend/wife a bucket of water and a mop, wish her a Happy Valentine’s Day and expect to get any. Just don’t.