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The sexiest thing your spouse can do for you may not be a back massage or even a strip tease. According to recent research, couples who enjoy more frequent and satisfying sex for both partners are those who equally share the chores.
Researchers at the University of Alberta surveyed 1,338 German couples to determine whether the amount of housework the male partner performed could predict the healthfulness of the couple's sex life. They found that when men perceive their contributions to chores as fair, the couple is more likely to have frequent and satisfying sex. And while there are certainly cultural differences between our two nations, our experts believe American partners can definitely benefit from this research.
"It's no mystery that women's lives are busier now than ever before, and help around the house is greatly appreciated," says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D, sex therapist and author of Wanting to Want: What Kills Your Sex Life and How to Keep It Alive. "When a partner pitches in to help with the chores, it helps free up time and energy that can be better directed to one's sex life, while it's almost impossible to get turned on when you are exhausted from trying to do it all. More importantly, it sends a signal that your partner values you and your time, which helps you feel closer to them."
And the more regularly you share in choreplay, as Sheryl Sandberg coined this form of foreplay, the more you'll build up the feels for one another. "More reciprocity breeds positive regard toward one another," explains Kat Van Kirk, licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist. "If you genuinely feel good about your partner and aren't carrying on-going resentment, you will tend to feel more open and loving towards them," including when it comes time to get down.
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So if you'd like your partner to put down his go-to moves and pick up a broom so that you can breath some of that positive energy into your sex life, don't nag, says Van Kirk. "Instead of making a power play out of the situation, you can make it more of a game and make it more fun," she says.
You can get into a routine of splitting chores — and having more sex! — by discussing which chores you'd like to do, suggests Van Kirk, rather than simply assuming they'll somehow get done. "Many times even progressive couples feel that chores fall along gender lines," she says. "It would be more proactive to engage about what chores each of your prefer to do."
Finally, she adds, "one person should be in charge of assigning all tasks. Even if the 'list' seems equitable, it can play into role expectation and power struggles between the two of you, such as withholding of sex." But be careful. Because, at the same time, "no one should hold all of the cards when it comes to housework or your sex life," Van Kirk says. "It should feel shared and reciprocal in a natural way. This is more about setting up a pattern of behavior that both of you feel good about. Not 'tit for tat' — excuse the pun. It's about a feeling of overall fulfillment when it comes to your relationship."