Married men and women who divide household chores in traditional ways have more sex than couples who share so-called men's and women's work.
The easy implication from a new report, written by sociologists at the University of Washington and published in the February issue of American Sociological Review, is that men who want more sex should do less around the home.
Other studies have found that husbands got more sex if they did more housework, implying that sex is in exchange for housework.
But those studies did not factor in the types of chores the husbands were doing.
An analysis piece on the Science Daily website suggests the survey results show that sex isn't a bargaining chip, rather that it is linked to the types of chores each spouse does.
Couples who follow traditional gender roles around the house - wives cooking, cleaning and shopping; men mowing the lawns, washing the car, paying the bills - report having sex more frequently.
Report co-author Julie Brines, an associate professor of sociology, says the results show that gender still organises quite a bit of everyday life in marriage.
"In particular, it seems that the gender identities husbands and wives express through the chores they do also help structure sexual behaviour."
Read this as meaning a woman with a traditional view of her role in the home is likely to be less "attracted" to a sensitive new-age guy who is happy doing her work, than she is to a man who better fits her view on domestic demarcation.
As lead author Sabino Kornrich says, husbands shouldn't take these findings as justification for not cooking, cleaning or doing other traditionally female work.
"Men who refuse to help around the house could increase conflict in their marriage and lower their wives' marital satisfaction."
The research suggests income level is not related to how often the couple had sex, and that variables such as happiness in marriage, religion and gender ideology do not have a role.
Is it right and does it matter?
Only those who feel the need to make comparisons are likely to be interested, and only those insecure in their relationship are likely to feel the need to make comparisons.
- The Marlborough Express