Studies show that egalitarian marriage results in less sex

From the ultra-leftist New York Times, of all places. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Most of the article is standard leftist boilerplate, but check this out:

Today, according to census data, in 64 percent of U.S. marriages with children under 18, both husband and wife work. There’s more gender-fluidity when it comes to who brings in the money, who does the laundry and dishes, who drives the car pool and braids the kids’ hair, even who owns the home. A vast majority of adults under 30 in this country say that this is a good thing, according to a Pew Research Center survey: They aspire to what’s known in the social sciences as an egalitarian marriage, meaning that both spouses work and take care of the house and that the relationship is built on equal power, shared interests and friendship. But the very qualities that lead to greater emotional satisfaction in peer marriages, as one sociologist calls them, may be having an unexpectedly negative impact on these couples’ sex lives.

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.

[…][Study co-author] Brines believes the quandary many couples find themselves in comes down to 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.

[…]The chores study seems to show that 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.

[…]When I asked Esther Perel, a couples therapist whose book, “Mating in Captivity,” addresses the issue of desire in marriage, about the role sexual scripts play in egalitarian partnerships, she explained it like this: “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.”

Now let’s leave that new study, and review an older study.

Egalitarianism inroduces a risk of divorce

Here is a related story about a Norwegian study that finds that egalitarian marriages have a higher risk of divorce.

Excerpt:

Couples who share housework duties run a higher risk of divorce than couples where the woman does most of the chores, a Norwegian study sure to get tongues wagging has shown.

The divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.

“The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled Equality in the Home, said.

Researchers found no, or very little, cause-and-effect. Rather, they saw in the correlation a sign of “modern” attitudes.

“Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage” as being less sacred, Mr Hansen said, stressing it was all about values.

“In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially. They can manage much easier if they divorce,” he said.

There were only some marginal aspects where researchers said there may be cause-and-effect.

“Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity … where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” Mr Hansen suggested.

“There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight,” he added.

I think that this article is basically correct – men like having clearly defined roles. A man has the traditional roles of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. He has the responsibility to lead in those areas. He doesn’t want to have the woman’s role, he doesn’t want to be forced to perform it. Complementarianism is the rational view, the view that leads to happier and more stable marriages. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. Men and women maybe be equal in importance and value, but they are not interchangeable. They are not identical.

Now, anyone who denies the facts has to do better than 1) introduce the bare possibility that all the studies are wrong and 2) claim that their own marriage refutes what the studies say and 3) sex isn’t that important anyway for the stability of the marriage, 4) a higher risk of divorce isn’t that bad for the stability of the marriage. The facts are what they are and the wise man proportions his beliefs to the evidence. Complementarianism is supported by evidence. Egalitarianism is just ideology.

Egalitarian marriage does not make women happier

Elusive Wapiti writes about in this blog post.

Excerpt:

Norwegian researchers confirm and extend Brad Wilcox and Steven Nock’s research suggesting that egalitarianism sets couples up to fail:

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.

The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said. “One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.

The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on. The reasons, Mr Hansen said, lay only partially with the chores themselves. “Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity … where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” he suggested. “There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight.”

See, Wilcox’s view is this:

The companionate theory of marriage suggests that egalitarianism in practice and belief leads to higher marital quality for wives and higher levels of positive emotion work on the part of husbands. Our analysis of women’s marital quality and men’s marital emotion work provides little evidence in support of this theory. Rather, in examining women’s marital quality and men’s emotional investments in marriage, we find that dyadic commitment to institutional ideals about marriage and women’s contentment with the division of household tasks are more critical. We also show that men’s marital emotion work is a very important determinant of women’s marital quality. We conclude by noting that her marriage is happiest when it combines elements of the new and old: that is, gender equity and normative commitment to the institution of marriage.

His full study from 2006 is here.

Now some people think that if men are not forced to do women’s chores, it will somehow lead to domestic abuse. What do studies say about that?

Domestic violence more likely in two income couples

From Psych Central.

Excerpt:

Intimate partner violence is two times more likely to occur in two income households, compared to those where only one partner works, according to a new study.

Conducted by Sam Houston State University researchers Cortney A. Franklin, Ph.D., and doctoral student Tasha A. Menaker and supported by the Crime Victims’ Institute, the study looked at the impact of education levels and employment among heterosexual partners as it relates to domestic violence.

While the researchers found that differences in education levels appeared to have little influence, when both partners were working, intimate partner violence increased.

“When both male and females were employed, the odds of victimization were more than two times higher than when the male was the only breadwinner in the partnership, lending support to the idea that female employment may challenge male authority and power in a relationship,” said the researchers.

The study was based on telephone interviews with 303 women who identified themselves as either currently or recently in a serious romantic relationship.

[…]The study found that more than 60 percent of women in two-income couples reported victimization, while only 30 percent of women reported victimization in cases when only the male partner was employed.

[…]The study is scheduled to be published in the journal Violence Against Women.

Now let’s see if women in church have their views informed by studies, or not.

Church women have it exactly backwards

For further reading, check out this excellent post from Sunshine Mary. I am including this for life application.

Excerpt:

My husband and I attend a large Protestant church of the superfunrockband denomination. On Wednesday evenings, our church holds small group Bible studies, and HHG and I attend the one for married couples.  We meet in a large room and split into small groups, each group with its own table and leader.

This past week was rough because the topic was sex.  I just could not believe that all the things we joke about Christians saying were actually said.  For example, one young woman actually used the women-are-like-a-crockpot crock of crap.  This is not true, in case anyone has not figured it out yet.  It does not take a woman, Christian or otherwise, eight hours to become sexually aroused.  The idea that a man needs to spend eight hours giving her tender kisses, helping with the laundry, telling her how much he loves her, and bringing her flowers just to turn her on is wrong.  She may like all those things very much, they may be nice things to do, but they will not make her sexually aroused.  Why do Christian women keep telling men this?  It’s like we’ve all succumbed to mass delusion.

Unbelievably, another woman told the group how hot it is when her husband does the dishes and plays with the kids.  She actually said that as a serious comment, and all the other ladies laughed and nodded.

[…]I could no longer stand it, so I whipped out my iPad and looked up a recent study, refuting her blue pill bull pucky…

[…]For the entire evening, it was the same old yip yap about helping with the housework, making sure your wife feels loved enough, making her feel safe, blah blah blah.  None of this is good advice for generating attraction, of course, although it wasn’t surprising.

Why do Christian women perpetuate these myths about attraction, thereby assuring themselves and their husbands a frustrating sex life?  It’s certainly not Biblical.  We could be really jaded and say they are just lying, but I don’t think that is the reason.

It’s more that we hear this over and over again – that we want men who are always tender, gentle, and sensitive, that we need a deep emotional connection, lots of intimate conversation, and plenty of sweet romance before we can feel sexual attraction.  This advice is pervasive: it’s on every Christian website, in our movies, magazines, sermons, and books, and thus we just come to believe it.

You would think that these studies would destroy feminist myths, but a lot of what goes on in churches is never checked against the data. Maybe we should start, though. And note that this is a case where the Bible and the data are once again in perfect harmony — in the sense that both claim that the sexes really are different. It’s the church’s embrace of radical feminism that’s wrong.

10 thoughts on “Studies show that egalitarian marriage results in less sex”

  1. In the section surveying possible responses, you wrote, that one option for those who wish to “deny the facts” (a rather loaded statement itself; what facts is one denying to say that marriage is more complex than, say, sex?), is to argue that “sex isn’t that important anyway for the stability of the marriage.”

    Now some may try to respond this way, but I would say it is a gross misrepresentation of a route that I would take which is to say marriage is about more than sex. I would not argue that sex “isn’t that important” for marriage; I would deny that marital happiness is reducible to the number of times a married couple has sex, and to view marital happiness as such is, well, rather narrow minded.

    Second, the discussion on “egalitarian marriage” as introducing another possibility for divorce is a non starter. Basically, it seems that marriages in which the work is split around 50-50 are simply defined as “egalitarian.” Although I have no doubt that some would define it as such and even urge such a split, that hardly bears out in the published (Christian) egalitarian literature on marriage. Egalitarian marriage is not about divvying up tasks 50-50. Again, I’m sure some people do it this way and consider it “egalitarian” but the splitting of workloads does not an egalitarian marriage make.

    Third, in a forum like this it is, admittedly, essentially a requirement to narrow the discussion down to merely one facet of a certain topic, but I find it highly interesting to cite statistics related to non-egalitarian marriages. For example, non-egalitarian marriages report unhappiness levels nearly 4 times higher than those of egalitarian marriages. Moreover, spousal abuse is higher in non-egalitarian marriages than in egalitarian marriages.

    So, let’s just grant that egalitarian marriages have lower rates of sex. Balance that with the significantly higher rate of physical abuse and reporting more unhappiness in marriage (among other facets) for non-egalitarian marriages. The issue, it seems, is not so simplistic as the # of times couples have sex.

    (Stats from: http://godswordtowomen.org/Preato3.htm and based upon a paper presented at the 2004 ETS meeting.)

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    1. First, we will have agree to disagree about whether sex is important to marriage satisfaction. But I have a feeling that men will agree with me when I say that regular sex is ESSENTIAL to a man being happy in a marriage.

      Second, I’m not sure how Christians define egalitarian marriage, but if the woman insists on the man splitting the chores with her 50-50 so that the man is doing have of the chores typically identified with the woman’s role in the marriage, the peer-reviewed secular studies I cited show that the frequency of sex is lower, the woman’s happiness is lower, and the risk of divorce is higher.

      Third, I added to the post a more recent study done by a sociologist at UT Austin which shows that egalitarian marriages DO in fact involve less happiness for women.

      You just asserted something about physical abuse there, with no citation of any evidence. Can you please explain to me where you got the idea that having a man not do household tasks typically performed by the woman results in higher spousal abuse? I know that these claims are made by the egalitarian side a lot in order to win the argument by portraying women as victims, but I don’t that the data supports the claim. In fact, you can find studies that refute the claim.

      For example, this one:
      Ellison, et al, ‘Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence’, Violence Against Women (13.11.1094), (2007), pp. 1095-1096.

      Quote:
      “Some have speculated that traditionalist or patriarchal religious ideologies may legitimate, or at least fail to adequately condemn, the practice of partner violence (e.g., Nason-Clark 1997, 2000). This may be particularly true for certain variants of conservative Protestantism that emphasize male headship; however, to date, studies of domestic violence that have examined the role of religion have not identified any clear support for this claim (Brinkerhoff, Grandin, & Lupri, 1992; Ellison, Bartkowski, & Anderson, 1999; Wilcox, 2004).”

      A more recent study argues that egalitarian marriages are MORE likely to involve domestic abuse:
      http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/30/greater-odds-of-domestic-violence-for-two-income-couples/48389.html

      So the abuse claim is a myth, but a useful myth for those looking to absolve women from having specific duties and moral obligations in marriage.

      Finally, it’s a myth that men commit more domestic violence than women. I link to the relevant government-conducted studies from 3 different countries here:
      UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2518434/Why-MEN-victims-domestic-violence-Its-Britains-remaining-taboos-abuse-men-home-rise.html?printingPage=true
      Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/050714/dq050714a-eng.htm
      Sweden: http://www.thelocal.se/20131008/50656

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    2. I think you are mistaken in downplaying the importance of sex in a marriage. This idea, that sex isn’t important, is most likely a result of our feminised churches allowing women to rebel against God’s word in 1 Cor 7. Paul certainly seems to assume that sex would be a vital part of marriage, and that it would take place regularly. Why else would he say to not deny one another, and if you did decide to take a break, to do so only for a short amount of time? The answer is obvious – sex is important to marriage.
      I read through the Preato link a little. One spot defies belief:
      “A significant discovery was made in relation to marital satisfaction and role relationships. It discovered that (81%) of equalitarian (egalitarian) couples were happily married, while (82%) of couples where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional (hierarchical) were mainly unhappy.[17] ”
      I mean, seriously, why don’t they just make up some numbers. At least that would let me take this a little more seriously.
      Actually, I’m reading more of the article as I type this and I think I’ll stop. It is so bad that it just isn’t worth it. Just as an example, here is a supposed traditional complementarian Christian marriage example:
      “For example, one pastor tells how a Christian woman felt obligated to obey her husband “by engaging in sex with him and another woman at the same time.””
      How did the ETS allow this to be presented? I’m even more baffled, and disappointed.

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  2. “For the entire evening, it was the same old yip yap about helping with the housework, making sure your wife feels loved enough, making her feel safe, blah blah blah. None of this is good advice for generating attraction, of course, although it wasn’t surprising.”

    For pete’s sake, God forbid a woman feel safe and loved. I agree that the whole “100 meaningful conversations before sex” thing is a total crock, and so is the 50/50 housework silliness. But that paragraph was just badly put. Making sure she feels loved enough comes more easily than all that tripe, and is vital for marital security. When the devil did the meaning of egalitarian marriage get so..stupid? It does NOT mean giving men an apron, whether that repulses or attracts you, it does NOT mean splitting everything 50/50! It means the male isn’t crowned and the wife’s opinion is as respected and regarded; period. And this is just a regular definition of equal humanity between man and woman; what the Bible really tells spouses is to put each other first, and not strive for superiority in anything, or equality in everything.

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    1. The husband is supposed to have a crown.

      Ephesians 5:22-24
      Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

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  3. I like pretty much everything that you post, but this one I LOVE! The church has embraces not only feminism but Hollywoods ridiculouus portrayal of what love is and what it looks like and what it entails. Christian women swoon over bare chested celebrities at the same rate as unbelievers, then they turn and look at their husbands with disgust or disinterest. We have it so mixed up and messed up. Sex does not begin in the kitchen. Real, genuine sexual intimacy begins in the hearts of two people whose commitment to eachother is second only to their commitment to Christ, and who are focused on pleasing each other not just being pleased themselves. No dishwashing required!

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