Life is Hard: Men, Women, and the Space Between Them

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • In my last blog, I tackled a gender issue that affects women: We may need to work harder to achieve the same level of health and fitness as our Y chromosome-bearing counterparts.

    But don't take this to mean that I think guys have it so easy. I don't. They have to grapple with societal expectations that are changing rapidly, which can be stressful.

    And just as men – well, many of them anyway -- have gotten the message that they need to communicate better, take better care of their health, and adapt to women’s rising economic and political power, along comes news that shows that enlightenment isn’t always in men’s best interest.

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    The study, which ran in the American Sociological Review, found that guys who … oh, the headline on the press release says it best: “Husbands who do more traditionally female housework have less sex.”

    In recent years, the media have reported that husbands who do more work around the house get invited to do more in the bedroom, too. The researchers on the new study decided to look at this more closely. They used data from a national survey of married couples, and separated types of housework by who has traditionally done it: women (cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the house, shopping, laundry) and men (yard work, car upkeep, bill-paying).

    They found that couples had sex less often when men did more of the traditional “women’s” work. But when guys did the more typical “manly” chores, they had sex more often.

    It seems, the researchers surmise, that even though we’ve backed away from our old ways of thinking about gender roles, the traditional norms still affect our “individual behaviors, including sexual frequency within marriage.”

    That doesn’t mean that guys should flee the kitchen and laundry room if they wish to keep having fun in the bedroom. As the researchers also point out, men’s contributions help determine whether women are satisfied in their marriage. And this satisfaction is linked to how often they have sex.

     

    It might be wise to call a meeting to discuss not only who’s going to do what around the house, but how the other person feels about watching a spouse do this work. Does something bother her about seeing you hunched over the ironing board, but seeing you conquer the weeds in the lawn gets her excited? Perhaps that should figure into the equation …

     

    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms.

Published On: February 06, 2013