Why Housework and Sex Are Connected

Husbands who help more at home say they have better love lives, but they are not entirely happy about this modern quid pro quo

Joseph Fields* knows that if he wants to increase the odds for sex with his wife, he brings her roses, sends her a love note or suggests dinner at their favorite restaurant. But if he wants to be certain of a romantic evening, he goes for the vacuum cleaner.

"My wife has told me that she's never more turned on to me than when I'm doing housework," says Fields, a 39-year-old guidance counselor from Lexington, KY. "And she's proven it again and again."

American women have long hinted that seeing their husbands doing housework—or at least seeing the results—is an aphrodisiac. Now, for the first time, men confirm that the housework-sex link is real. According to a survey of 288 men for my book, VoiceMale, husbands concede that when they do their share in the kitchen or laundry room, their wives tend to return the favor in the bedroom. This connection was confirmed in a groundbreaking new report on women, work and families by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. Women feel more sexual attraction to husbands who do more housework and child care. Heck, there's even popular series of books called Porn for Women, which features photos of hunky men wielding irons, vacuums and toilet brushes or taking care of babies.

Fields, like many men, has mixed feelings about what he calls "this tit for tat." Early in his 13-year marriage, he noticed his wife, Cathy, turning down his sexual advances when he shirked his share of the housework. "It seemed that she was holding sex hostage," he says.

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