Montclair State Professor Releases Research on Housework and Marital Relations

Montclair, NJ -- A new study conducted by Constance T. Gager, PhD, assistant professor of Family and Child Studies at Montclair State University, and co-author Scott Yabiku shows the relationship between the amount of time spent on housework and the frequency of marital relations. The study was published this month in the Journal of Family Issues.

With the trends of women spending more time in the workforce and the increasing speed of everyday life, the co-authors wanted to explore whether the resulting time crunch affects the frequency of sex among married couples. Their article, "Who has the time? The relationship between household labor time and sexual frequency," revealed the direct relationship between the amount of housework and the frequency of sex.

The study of 6,877 married couples examined sexual frequency's link to three issues: time availability, gender ideology, and involvement across numerous activities (multiple spheres). In the research, housework was defined as participation in nine tasks: cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, laundry, driving family members to activities, shopping, yard work, car maintenance, and paying bills. Considered were age, health, education, duration of relationship, religion, income, race or ethnicity, and marital satisfaction. Other factors were how many hours per week were spent in paid work, and for couples with children, the age of the children in the household.

The data showed that wives spent nearly twice as much time per week on housework - on average 41.8 hours compared to husbands' 23.4 hours. However, the effects of housework on sexual frequency did not vary significantly by gender. The results show that both wives and husbands who spend more hours on household labor report more frequent sex than those who devote less time to household labor. The results also showed that time availability and views on gender roles had much less impact on sexual frequency.

The study's findings support that a select group of individuals may be achievers in various aspects of life. It suggests that as life gets busier and time gets tighter, these go-getter spouses can successfully balance multiple time commitments. "We're not saying that housework causes sex, rather there are groups who 'do it all' and other groups who do not," says Gager. "We found that these go-getters are prioritizing their busy schedules to make time for sex."

Gager has also participated in studies about the relationship of achievement in children to the amount of their assigned household chores, how household chores are still mainly the domain of women, and its effect on youngsters.

Released: October 26, 2009