Men who do housework may get more sex
American men still don't pull their weight when it comes to housework and child care, but collectively they're not the slackers they used to be. The average dad has gradually been getting better about picking himself up off the sofa and pitching in, according to a new report in which a psychologist suggests the payoff for doing more chores could be more sex.
The report, released Thursday by the Council on Contemporary Families, summarizes several recent studies on family dynamics. One found that men's contribution to housework had doubled over the past four decades; another found they tripled the time spent on child care over that span.
"More couples are sharing family tasks than ever before, and the movement toward sharing has been especially significant for full-time dual-earner couples," the report says. "Men and women may not be fully equal yet, but the rules of the game have been profoundly and irreversibly changed."
Some couples have forged partnerships they consider fully equitable.
"We'll both talk about how we're so lucky to have someone who does more than their share," said Mary Melchoir, a fundraiser for the National Organization for Women, who — like her lawyer husband — works full-time while raising 6-year-old triplets.
"He's the one who makes breakfast and folds the laundry," said Melchoir, 47. "I'm the one who fixes things around the house."
Joshua Coleman, a psychologist from San Francisco and author of "The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework," said equitable sharing of housework can lead to a happier marriage and more frequent sex.
"If a guy does housework, it looks to the woman like he really cares about her — he's not treating her like a servant," said Coleman. "And if a woman feels stressed out because the house is a mess and the guy's sitting on the couch while she's vacuuming, that's not going to put her in the mood."
In the U.S., time-use diary studies show that since the '60s, men's contribution to housework doubled from about 15 percent to more than 30 percent of the total. Over the same period, the average working mother reduced her weekly housework load by two hours.
Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent on child care. During the same period, women also increased the time spent with their children, suggesting mutual interest in a more hands-on approach to child-raising.