Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sex and the Kitchen Sink

After decades of editing women's magazines, it's reassuring to learn science is solving one perennial problem--getting husbands to do housework.

The latest news is that the sight of men doing domestic chores is erotic, a discovery about marital bliss that recalls the Lysistrata approach to ending wars, which the historically minded will recall didn't work out too well. Now, that's been updated with a carrot-and-stick approach.

"I am very turned on when he's doing housework," one woman reports. "If there's a sink full of dirty dishes, he knows I'm going to take care of that before I want to get intimate. If he wasn't helping with the housework, I would not find that very attractive."

There may be deeper reasons. "When a man does housework, it feels to the woman like an expression of caring and concern," says a psychologist-researcher. "A guy can be completely stressed out and want to have sex to burn it off, but women are not wired like that." They need to feel relaxed in order to feel sexy.

But there could also be a tradeoff going on here. Recent findings by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research show, in 1976, men did six hours of housework a week which, in 2005, increased to about 13 while women decreased their weekly chores from 26 hours to 17.

But the same research shows that "as men's housework goes up, women's marital satisfaction also goes up but men's marital satisfaction goes down."

If these trends continue, the best answer may be to invest in companies that make paper plates and, just possibly, Viagra.

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