You ever notice that a society that assumes husbands and wives should share tasks “equally” in the family is also a society addicted to domination/submission fantasies? The (soft?) porn “fifty shades of grey” was a bestseller due to female readers. Furthermore, virtually all romance novels whether tame or sleazy involve a woman struggling to win or be won by a domineering man. No matter how much we “evolve” in our marriage expectations, our fantasy life remains firmly implanted in some version of Pride and Prejudice.
Does this seem odd to you?
Well, there are other aspects of modern life that fit well with these “anomalies.” In the New York Times Magazine, L.A. resident and psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb writes:
A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year, surprised many, precisely because it went against the logical assumption that as marriages improve by becoming more equal, the sex in these marriages will improve, too. Instead, it found that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming — the kinds of things many women say they want their husbands to do — then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.
Not exactly politically correct.
Gottlieb points out some possible problems with the study, but then also appeals to some of her experience as a counselor to support the findings. The bottom line is that wives are more interested in sex when they are reminded that they are married to a man.
Sadly, the article degenerates into a substitution strategy. Rather than actually allow the household to function in a traditional way, Gottlieb assumes couples should role play in the bedroom as a way of inducing desire. One expert she quotes puts the issues quite forthrightly:
“Egalitarian marriage takes the values of a good social system — consensus-building and consent — and assumes you can bring these rules into the bedroom. But the values that make for good social relationships are not necessarily the same ones that drive lust.” In fact, she continued, “most of us get turned on at night by the very things that we’ll demonstrate against during the day.”
The article goes on and on about using fantasies and roles in the bedroom as if that is the only possible way a couple could deal with the fact that men and women enjoy sex more and more often when they are reminded they are married to the opposite sex. Gottlieb indicates that many times these strategies don’t work too well. I’m not surprised. Just because husbands and wives fantasize about being with real men and women (in sadly exaggerated ways) doesn’t mean they want to pretend to be with them with their spouses.
In that context, missing the real thing becomes overwhelming.