The Gendered Division of Housework and Couples' Sexual Relationships: A Reexamination
Daniel Carlson et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming
Abstract: Although contemporary couples increasingly express preferences for egalitarian unions, previous research has suggested that sexual intimacy decreases when routine housework is shared. Yet this research was conducted on data that are decades old. To update this work, the authors compared data from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey (MARS) and Wave 2 of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH2), collected in 1992–1994. The results indicated change in the association between housework arrangements and sexual intimacy across surveys. Although egalitarian arrangements were associated with lower sexual frequency compared to conventional arrangements in the NSFH2, no such difference was found in the MARS. In fact, reported sexual frequency increased across surveys among egalitarian couples only. In addition, how housework was arranged mattered more for sexual satisfaction among MARS couples than NSFH2 couples. These changes appear to result from the increasing role of perceived equity as a mechanism linking the division of housework to sex.