A few months ago, The New York Times Magazine discussed a study which found that couples who considered their relationship as “egalitarian” had less sex than couples who adhered to traditional gender roles.
The results from this study surprised many. It was assumed that sex would improve as the marriage became more equal. Not so! This study 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…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….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.”
Women “do want their husbands to help out — just in gender-specific ways. Couples in which the husband did plenty of traditionally male chores reported a 17.5 percent higher frequency of sexual intercourse than those in which the husband did none.”
The findings in this study comes as no surprise to those who work in the field of family therapy, “No matter how much sink-scrubbing and grocery-shopping the husband does, no matter how well husband and wife communicate with each other, no matter how sensitive they are to each other’s emotions and work schedules, the wife does not find her husband more sexually exciting, even if she feels both closer to and happier with him.
The bottom line is this, “the less gender differentiation, the less sexual desire. In other words, in an attempt to be gender-neutral, we may have become gender-neutered.”
For those who are LDS, consider these questions. What might the proclamation on the family say about the results of this study? Does the proclamation on the family encourage egalitarian marriages?
Personally, I don’t think so, but a person who sees life through the lens of equality might interpret this document as advocating egalitarianism, when in fact The Proclamation on the Family emphasizes distinct gender roles between men and woman. I believe The Proclamation on the Family, if followed to the extent circumstances allow, will lead to happier marriages.
I also believe it’s important to emphasize, when it comes to marriage there are no guarantees of living happily ever after. There have been many couples who have adhered to traditional gender roles and are now divorced. An important bit of fact to take from this study is that men and woman want different things, and it is those differences that attract us to each other.
Most (99.9%) of people who are married understand how important physical and emotional intimacy is. How important? President Kimball, a Prophet of the Mormon Church taught that the number one cause of divorce is over the issue of sex. “If you study the divorces…you will find that there are [many] reasons. Generally sex is the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in the court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the reason.”(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 1982, p. 329)
The Proclamation on the family lays out clear guidelines for man and woman to follow in their relationship. The roles defined in this document are considered sexist and bigoted by today’s society. I myself am thankful that this study was done, as it confirms the wisdom found in The Proclamation. It shows that men and woman are in fact different, and it is those differences that attract us to one another.