Men doing the dishes are supposed to set the mood for romance with their partners. But is it ethical to treat sex as a commodity, even if many women claim it works?
Should we use sexuality as a negotiating tool?
Sexual intimacy is a potent manifestation of love between lovers. In the safety of a committed partnership, it can be a transformative experience. Sometimes, though, it’s employed to manage the actions of the sex-hungry partner. Is that how you ought to make use of something so personal and romantic? Please consider my opinions.
1. The message sent by not having sex is the wrong one.
For the duration of a monogamous relationship, your spouse will only have sexual encounters and physical contact with you. They may learn that they need to search elsewhere for sex if you decide to withhold it as a punishment for the behavior you don’t approve of.
Let that sink in for a second: sexual activity between partners is a unique means by which people in relationships bond with one another. Therefore, in a committed relationship, sex is revered.
2. Spouses can show their love and appreciation for one another through the medium of sex.
Giving sexual favors as a reward for good behavior or because one partner has been “good” changes the nature of sexual activity between partners from one of love to one of approval.
Reward sex seems more like something one partner does for the other than something a couple does together out of love. Even more so in a long-term partnership, sexual activity should involve more than just physical contact. It ought to touch both our physical and spiritual selves. When sex is offered as a reward, it takes on less of a sense of passion and sharing between partners and more of a focus on the mechanics of the act in order to appease a “good” partner.
3. Science suggests that exchanging sexual favors for household tasks is not always a good idea.
An article written by three women and published in the American Sociological Review a few years ago rebutted the claim that “the most sexual thing a guy can do for a woman is… the dishes.”
Using information from 7,002 married couples who took part in the National Survey of Families and Households, the authors concluded that men’s participation in housework does not increase sexual activity. Instead, couples are more likely to enjoy themselves in the bedroom when men do their responsibilities and women do theirs in a traditionally gendered way.
This is further evidence that the “positive” behavior leading up to sex is not necessarily reinforced by sex as a reward mechanism. It’s the truth that women are turned on by their men’s helpfulness and men are drawn to their woman’s femininity, leading to more frequent sex. The results do not include any instances when sex was used as a negotiating tool.
Some closing thoughts on sexual activity and household duties.
No one is perfect, and it would be hypocritical of me to claim that I have never used sex to manipulate my spouse. I have. On multiple occasions.
I think that happens to every couple sometimes, usually when both partners are extremely busy and unable to take care of household duties like dishwashing and laundry. I also believe that women tend to do more of the housework than men do, and that this can lead to feelings of resentment when our partners are relaxing in front of the TV while we’re on our knees cleaning the bathroom.
Just occasionally dangling that forbidden thread over your partner’s head for some “me time” is very rational. Grab a nice book and soak in the tub while he prepares dinner. You’ll get some much-needed shut-eye before being called upon to fulfill your part of the arrangement.
Keep in mind that sex should be used sparingly as a punishment for bad behavior and as a reward for “good” behavior. Using sex as a currency too frequently can have a negative impact on your relationship by decreasing the level of closeness and trust between you and your partner.