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Desperate househusbands

Does helping with housework help your sex life?

Sex Begins in the Kitchen, Dr. Kevin Lehman’s 1981 book, tells men that a wife’s responsiveness in the bedroom at night is the cumulative effect of the attention she receives during the day through things like conversation and helping with housework.

desperate househusbands

from Homemaker’s Encyclopedia, 1954

Research seems to confirm that very notion. In 2008, the University of Kentucky found that “the happier a wife is with her husband’s participation in housework, the more sex she has with him.” The research was done for the book by Neil Chethik, VoiceMaleand was the first to officially link housework with sex.

But hold everything!

Last year, a broader study seemed to contradict the idea that when a man does more housework it meant more sex. “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage” actually showed that husbands who did more of what is usually considered women’s work had less sex.

Are the study findings contradictory? Is one set of research findings flawed? I don’t think so. I believe it just shows what’s really in play here.

The 2008 Kentucky study had to do with a wife’s satisfaction with the amount of chores her husband did, while the more recent study tried to equate the amount of chores with the amount of sex.

The 2008 study revealed that a husband doesn’t necessarily have to do half the housework, just enough that his wife felt supported and appreciated. The 2013 study found that husbands who consistently reported more sex were those whose contribution included tasks that are generally considered more manly, like yard work and taking out the trash, versus tasks that many think of as more womanly, like cooking and cleaning.

Marriage involves cooperation and complementarity. A man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father all offer something unique to the family that benefits the others. But it isn’t just about doing what comes naturally and intuitively.

We husbands need to be reminded that wives want to be both appreciated and desired. A woman may want the home to be a pleasant place and often approaches chores with that as the end goal. A husband who recognizes this and joins with his wife in that common purpose earns her appreciation.

A woman rarely appreciates a man who takes it easy while she’s taking on more responsibility than she feels she can handle. Not only can shouldering all the work make her resentful, it also tires her out and makes her less energized for intimacy. Men are wired to compartmentalize parts of their lives like sex and work, but women process things much more holistically.

Here’s a funny story that illustrates this. It’s from a psychotherapist writing about the 2013 study findings in the New York Times, and comparing them to her own experience counseling couples.

A couple in therapy had been working on making their marriage more egalitarian. Things were going very well, but the husband noticed that they were having less intimacy. He wondered aloud in their session if she no longer found him attractive. She assured him that she did, especially when he came in from working out at the gym and she could see his muscles when he got undressed to take a shower.

He then reminded her that the very same scenario had happened the day before, but that rather than desiring intimacy, she criticized him for throwing his clothes on the floor. She saw his point, but it didn’t change the way she felt.

As men, we have a hard time understanding these types of seeming inconsistencies in women. We desperate househusbands think that because we treat our wives with honor and chip in around the house without being asked or nagged, our wives should appreciate us back with intimacy. In fact, one of the theories about the recent findings was that the men who did the most around the house may have reported the lowest satisfaction with the amount of sex because they were expecting more sex for their contribution.

However long you’ve been married to the woman in your life, you probably have come to realize that there are some things about her (maybe even most things) that you’ll never understand. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that of all the admonitions Scripture has for husbands, being sensitive to our wives makes the short list.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life... – 1 Peter 3:7a, ESV

Being understanding doesn’t mean being able to make sense of everything your wife says and does. It’s anticipating her needs and putting her first above all people, including yourself. Scripture also challenges wives to be sensitive to their husbands’ need for connection through sexual intimacy, but that’s not the focus of this blog. The truth is that both my wife and I need to selflessly offer our bodies and our lives to each other, but the only one I have control over is myself, so I’ll work on that.

When we treat our wives with the honor they deserve as joint heirs of the grace of life, when we love them sacrificially as Christ loves the church, they’re more likely to take notice of that grace and are more likely to feel the security to offer themselves to us unconditionally.

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  1. Jonathan Bee's Gravatar Jonathan Bee
    December 22, 2014    

    this is a blog about biblical manhood and endorses househusbands

    really? where in the bible does it ask men to be workers at home?

    How sad I hope men do not follow this advice, nowadays men do anything in the name of ” serving your wife” aka we submit to our wives and do what she says because that is real sacrificial love, sounds remarkably similar to what Adam did when Eve sinned.

    Men were created to work, before Eve even came along

  2. JD Wright's Gravatar JD Wright
    February 28, 2015    

    Both men and women appreciate help and support.
    The issue is love, just as God wants.
    Not self gratification and sex.
    Let’s not”give to get”..
    This proves we both want love, respect, and partnership.
    We are more alike than different.
    Please don’t censor me for heresy.

    • Jonathan Bee's Gravatar Jonathan Bee
      March 11, 2015    

      Of course but of our roles were so shoulder and flexible why the different commands to men and women?
      Where in the bible does it call men to be works at home?
      Why was Adam specifically cursed with hard work.
      You seem to be ignoring passages.
      Thus sounds like you want men to be the help meet and homemaker instead of women.
      Then you should probably rename your blog to men stepping up to become women!!
      Sad you same people support role reversal and yet are against gay marriage

      • Scott Williams's Gravatar Scott Williams
        March 12, 2015    

        Jonathan Bee, I’m not sure you read beyond the photo and the first couple of paragraphs. The second study mentioned later showed that men who did more manly tasks (the outdoor and dirty stuff) were the ones who reported more sex. But that wasn’t the point of the post. It was to point out that sex shouldn’t be seen as a reward for kowtowing, but that a husband should be willing to put his desires aside and be understanding toward his wife (in the same way Christ gave himself for the church). That doesn’t have to do with housework but consideration. And when our wives see us being considerate, they are all the more willing to be more vulnerable to us. That’s the way God made them.

        I’m pretty sure that if you’re married, you occasionally help out around the house. At least I hope you don’t have your wife be the only one who does work within the four walls of your home. I personally make the bed in the morning. Not because I have to, but because I love my wife and want to say something to her in a non-verbal way that I’m thinking of her. After all, she’s not the only one who sleeps in that bed. I also wash the dishes frequently, not because it’s my job, but because I appreciate that my wife spent many hours cooking a delicious meal. Plus it allows my children to see what service and love from the heart look like. Christ did the same when he took the basin and towel and washed his disciples feet.

        As far as work goes, Jonathan Bee, it was given to man before the first sin. The curse just made work harder. It was that same sin that caused a man to no longer be one with his wife. Neither our command to work nor our command to cleave to our wife is rescinded by the curse.

        A strong husband leads and serves, and doesn’t do it to keep track or earn brownie points.

        • Jonathan Bee's Gravatar Jonathan Bee
          March 12, 2015    

          That is great

  3. JD Wright's Gravatar JD Wright
    February 28, 2015    

    On yeah
    Women are so il logical…
    Even..kinda dumb.
    Get a clue..
    youu don’t pay a price for sex, we do!
    Painful birth,
    Pressured abortions,
    Single parenting,
    Possible death
    Loss of income,
    Poverty around the world!
    Wise up!
    Sex is easy for you men!

    • Scott Williams's Gravatar Scott Williams
      March 12, 2015    

      JD Wright, this article is to men, not women, which is why we don’t address the issues you did. We do realize that the impact of sex for women doesn’t end at intercourse. While pregnancy and childbirth are difficult and sometimes even life-threatening (a result of the curse of sin that affects us all), they are also a blessing that we men will never know. I’ll never know the extent of the bond that that my wife has with our children. I’m in awe, actually.

      As for the other negatives you mention, Stepping Up calls men to be protectors and defenders, not abusers and abandoners. We encourage a man to love his wife and children, to provide stability and protection for them, and to seek the best for them. While this blog post starts by talking about sex, I hope you notice that it ends by encouraging men to love their wives as Christ loves the church, willing to give their very lives for them.

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