"In an attempt to be gender neutral, we may have become gender-neutered"
I love when articles reinforce my experience in couples counseling. I see many couples a week and trying to describe this to them is amusing. When they get it, they all nod in agreement. Until then, they get pretty upset.
This article by Lori Gottlieb breaks it down really well. My apologies to her if I do not do it justice.
Brines is quoted, “The less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire.” The author writes, “Women do want the men to help out -just in gender-specific ways…couples in which the husband did traditionally male chores reported a 17.5% higher frequency of sexual intercourse than those in which the husband did none.”
“The risk of divorce is lowest when the husband does 40% of the housework and the wife earns 40% of the income.” If he does more of the ones our society considers more feminine, it affects the sexual relationship badly.
When there is a sense of mystery and excitement, an ongoing reminder of our differences, it is sexy. Gottlieb mentioned that with lesbian couples in which there is a high degree of intimate conversation, there is less sex. It is possible, the author suggested, that too much similarity in egalitarian couples leads to boredom and less sexual frequency. It might feel like roommates or siblings, not erotic. When it comes to sexual desire, biology seems to prefer difference. When it comes to emotions, similarity trumps.
It cited a study that suggested, “The important exception was women on the pill. On the pill, women selected partners who had similar immunity (a measure of similarity or likeness). When she comes off the pill, her hormone driven preferences change, and she may find she is married to the wrong kind of man.” We keep trying to maintain that our choices are not strongly biologically influenced. The truth seems to be that biology is a major contributor to our decisions, so let’s just put that into the equation if we want to be honest with ourselves about our motivation.
On page 29 it states that consensus-building and consent are much trickier in the bedroom. Each couple is really different and needs to talk about what they want and need and sometimes just go on automatic pilot and adjust mid-course. At that particular time, conversation kills the intimacy for some people. What you think is a good way of communicating during sex, might actually be counterproductive. Once more, every couple is different on this.
Note-talk this over, it is a good discussion point and may not be true of your situation. Be aware that sometimes people are a bit embarrassed about talking about their desires, their drive, their fantasies. Sometimes the fantasy does not make sense to the person describing it. Sometimes it does not make sense to the person hearing it. Sometimes the fantasy should stay in fantasy-land instead of in reality.
Talk about your expectations and realize that your expectations might not line up with reality. Set aside a couple hours and contemplate all the things that have to happen in order for you to have the opportunity, energy, brain chemistry etc. to be intimate. Let that reality be part of your equation when you set up your expectations about intimacy.
Just because she feels closer to him and happier with him, does not mean more sexual intimacy, unless you are comparing that number/month to a husband and wife where the man is not helping at all. In other words, doing more chores, sharing more decisions hits a point of diminishing returns in the bedroom. In the marriage itself, the marriage is happier with doing more chores and sharing more decisions. Coontz writes, “…having a partner who does housework and child care has become a bigger factor in women’s marital satisfaction…”
Logic tells us that she is not sexually excited by watching someone do household chores. Sorry, not that sexy. She feels loved and supported, yes, not turned on. Still do it, because it helps the marriage. It is worth repeating that there is a significant payoff and it is not in the bedroom.
If the couple is more balanced with chores etc. and she sees his sweaty muscles as he is changing after coming home from the gym, that could attract her, but let’s face it, household chores themselves are not sexy.