Hot, Holy & Humorous

Why a Husband Helping Around the House Makes a Wife More Open to Sex

Chris Taylor and I did a Knowing Her Sexually episode on “choreplay”—that is, spouses doing household and family tasks, with the hope that their mate will be more willing to have sex. Another definition is this one:

When a woman is turned on by the sight of her husband/boyfriend/partner doing regular household chores, that she would normally be doing.

american-wife, Urban Dictionary, 2008

We got a lot of pushback from husbands! Many said it didn’t work or they were already doing a lot of chores around the house but not being treated well in the bedroom or in the relationship as a whole. Indeed, some of them might prefer another definition I saw:

When a beta male listens to the advice of others, usually of the feminine persuasion, that he should take up more household duties, chores, and menial labor from his wife in an effort to help his failing marriage likely plagued by a dead bedroom.

Donlr, Urban Dictionary, 2008

Way back in 2011, however, I wrote a post titled “Is Vacuuming Foreplay?” I’ve updated it and now share the edited version below, because I think there’s something to choreplay. But not as a transaction!!! Rather, helping your wife with her tasks deposits funds into her “love bank” and frees up time, energy, and mental focus that can be redirected to relational and sexual intimacy.

Helping your wife with her tasks deposits funds into her “love bank” and frees up time, energy, and mental focus that can be redirected to relational and sexual intimacy. @hotholyhumorous


Do You See What I See?

Plenty of us have had that moment, ladies, when your husband walks in from a long day at work. One look around the house should tell your man that the next natural disaster movie could be filmed on location in your living room. Laundry has piled up to heights unseen by Sir Edmund Hillary, dinner is bubbling over the pot like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice cauldron, children are yelling creative epithets at one another, and your face has permanently frozen (as your parents promised) into an expression mirroring Edward Munch’s The Scream

Yet, this seemingly clueless husband walks over and (a) kisses neck; (b) grabs derrière; and/or (c) fondles breast of his frazzled wife and then suggests a sexual interlude.

What?!! Doesn’t he see what you see?

Now try Scenario #2: Hubby walks into the whirlwind home and notices his wife collapsed onto the floor praying for a break, a spa day, or—better yet—Jesus’ Second Coming. He scoops her up, gives her a non-sexual hug, and says, “Honey, it looks like you’ve had a tough day. Why don’t you take it easy for a few minutes? I’ll finish supper and take care of the kids.” 

His wife drags herself to the bedroom, locks the door, arranges three chairs in front of that door, grabs earplugs, and lies down with a wet cloth over her eyes. Meanwhile, her smart-sexy guy corrals the kids, straightens up the house, starts a load of laundry, and finishes supper. Is there any wife out there who is not sighing with satisfaction at this thought? 

Do You See Me?

I don’t know any husbands who do that all the time. It’s not fair to expect that all the time. Men have their own frazzled days, and while some clue in better than others, it doesn’t come naturally to most guys. Truth is, many men honestly don’t see the mess, the craziness, the help you need. Instead, they get home, notice your fine figure hovering near the stove, and think YES.

But listen up, hubbies: Though it’s nice to be seen and desired, what most wives want is to be fully seen in that moment—the balls they’re juggling, the stress they’re feeling, the desire they have to make and maintain a good home for the family. You can learn to look for signs of overwhelm and ask questions. And rather than telling her those things don’t matter—at all or as much as sex—you can help your wife cross off the to-dos and shut down the mental browser tabs.

Being seen, accepted, and helped by one’s husband triggers attraction for most wives. And if it involves parenting, many moms feel even more of a swoon for their hubbies. (See Why Being a Good Father Turns Your Wife On.)

You can’t approach this as a transaction, and there’s no guarantee. But it’s a fulfillment of this well-known passage:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

While some prefer the part that says, “if two lie down together, they will keep warm,” the passage begins with, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

Laboring together and helping one another when we fall down—or feel like we’re failing to keep it together—can lead to a willingness to lie down together, keep warm, and even crank up the heat to sizzle.

Now I Can See You.

Long ago, I explained to my own man that it was a big turn-on when he helped me out around the house. I told him that all housework should be considered foreplay. Wave a toilet brush around the bowl, and I start to purr. Fold a load of laundry, and I begin to pant. Run the vacuum around the house for me, and I am good to go. Okay, maybe not quite, but those efforts sure make sex more likely to happen!

Women are wooed throughout the day by all the little things that contribute to making us feel valued and loved. When we feel those things, we are far more open to physical intimacy when opportunity strikes.

In contrast, when we can’t reach our bed because of the mountains of clutter and mess in the way, it’s hard to get in the mood. All many women can think about in that moment is our ever-growing list of to-dos. When hubby marks off some of our to-dos, it clears not only our list but our minds. We can concentrate better on that guy who wielded a broom moments before and find him pretty darn attractive.

20 thoughts on “Why a Husband Helping Around the House Makes a Wife More Open to Sex”

  1. I love your balance in your discussion of this. I think that when a husband does housework out of his weakness trying to appease his wife, it is not attractive to her. When he sees her need and does the housework out of his strength, then she is attracted.

  2. I will say, this is where we may have to agree to disagree, which has been really rare in the time I have been reading your blogs. My wife is a stay at home mom, though our kids are now grown. She has primary responsibility for our home but I help out a lot. It is not to get some, as that would be a waste of my time (not that we don’t enjoy intimate time together, but it has never been due to helping out at home). I do it because I live here and it is good to help my precious wife. I don’t think there is any turn on when I help her, so wanting to help to get something would be a waste of my time. I also don’t grab anything when I get in the door. I do, however, get multiple kisses and a huge hug, even though I know it is unlikely to go anywhere at that time of day. Having an young adult son still at home makes that very unlikely. When the kids were young, I would often fill the tub and give her some time to soak, but I don’t think that produced anything in our intimate life, but it did give her time to decompress and I always loved time with my kids. I also insist on 5 – 10 minutes before we start having a conversation or having to deal with anything so I can decompress from work.

  3. At what point does this become enabling when she takes on more than she should OUTSIDE the home, usually church “abuse”, refuses to see it, much less stop, lets OUR home and marriage turn into a disaster zone as a result?

    AKA, only person she thinks she can say NO to is her husband.

    1. Without knowing the particulars of a situation, I don’t feel comfortable saying when something reaches abuse. But I do have one word for those who describe a situation like yours: BOUNDARIES. And on that matter, I defer to Cloud & Townsend: Boundaries in Marriage: Understanding the Choices That Make or Break Loving Relationship. Read it already? Maybe read it again. Or listen to the audio this time to see if you get something new from it.

      I’m sorry you’ve been through the ringer on this one! Blessings.

    2. My wife and I went through a similar situation. She got so caught up in ministry that our marriage was on really shaky ground. Add a military deployment and it was only God that allowed us to move past it. I can’t think of it without still being a bit angry, though it is rarely a thought these days. My anger, however, is not with my wife but with the person I believe took full advantage of her desire to pursue what she felt was ministry. It was more about book sales from a Christian author (And to clarify, I have not seen this from J, and my experience is why I so want to encourage J to put her husband before everything but God, and that often means before what we perceive to be ministry). Continue to express to your wife what you are feeling. If it is hurting your marriage, she need to know that. As the son of a pastor, I have seen the opposite side of things, where pastors are so devoted to ministry that they fail to understand that their greatest ministry is to their wife and children. I am blessed to have a father that did not do this, but I know the trap that is out there. Continue to love your wife, express your feelings, and pray to the one who can do all things, our Lord Jesus Christ. There is not only a way through it, there is a better, more secure, more fulfilling, relationship on the other side of it.

  4. I could probably write a million words, but I am sure there is a limit. I should start out by saying I don’t refuse often, but more recently I have asked my husband not to approach me after my bedtime since I need to get up early for work. That is one way in which I would like to be “seen”.

    In talking to younger women they desire a team approach rather than a man “helping” them. A husband shouldn’t do housework out of weakness-he should do it because he lives there as well and that is part of adult responsibilities. What this look likes will vary from couple to couple. If necessary if my husband’s plate is full, within my abilities I can help shovel the snow or mow the lawn. Probably won’t try to clean the gutters though.

    I looked over at the comments on the KHS site–I agree this is more of a long term strategy rather than a tit for tat.

    My husband is a fairly neat person and is competent at most basic household chores. I think sometimes marriage advice goes wrong. I just can’t fathom marriage advice that says not only should your husband feel free to throw his socks on the floor, you shouldn’t get frustrated at him for doing so. My dad did very little around the house to help my mom, but he didn’t do things purposely to add to her burden like not marching his socks to the hamper.

    I think where it can get frustrating for wives is when there are “extra” things going on and husbands don’t take into account the actual time investment and emotional energy involved. Maybe it is buying new clothes, shoes and school supplies for a couple of younger kids in order to get them ready for back to school. Or a young child that is frequently sick. Or it could be the holidays. Or caring for elderly relatives.

    My husband comes from a larger family than mine with a much larger extended family. The obligations that come with this have sometimes been challenging.

    My daughter is getting married this year along with another young lady from my husband’s side of the family. Of course weddings are a joyous occasion. But sometimes I feel husbands aren’t interested in knowing about the time commitments involved-usually women are doing all the behind the scenes work. Does my young adult son have a tie to wear to the wedding–what happened to the last tie I bought him? Do things need to go to the dry cleaner. Will I be asked to be involved in planning a bridal shower for my niece? Will I be the one to buy a card and a wedding present for my niece?

    Yes, women very much want to be “seen”.

  5. Helping around the house should be a given, but even though that may not happen as much as it could, probably a good place for certain husbands to do their part, is when avoid hanging up our clothes on the floor, on a regular basis.

  6. To follow up: I read something that reminded me that foreplay isn’t just about physical gratification, as it can also solidify a deeper emotional bond between spouses. The same can be said about making sure the house is clean especially on days my wife works, when I have those days off.

    I also know she likes to come home for lunch, knowing I have a kitchen sink filled with a fresh batch of hot soapy dish water, so she can dip her hands in it, when they are chilled because of the cooler climate we live. (The dishes are already washed)

    To hear her quiet whispers of pleasure as she is soaking her hands in the hot soapy water, gives me an emotional boost as I know we are mentally bonding without exchanging too many words, with exception when I hear her say a quiet: “that feels good”

    Filling the sink with hot water, after cleaning the house, is fun. Maybe not as fun as foreplay, but I think any spouse coming home to a clean house provides a special bond, that actually makes intimacy more powerful.

    It isn’t difficult for me to know how to spotlessly clean a house anyway, as I grew up being the eldest of a large family with working parents. I get way more pleasure cleaning the house now, than I did growing up as I grew up with a little fear that I wasn’t going to pass inspection.

  7. Hi
    My wife had two knee replacements recently and I have been nurse-maid for many months. This has had zero effect on our sex life which has been zero for 20 years ( since before breast cancer/chemo)! It was just the other day that I saw any of her private parts. The most intimate we’ve been is holding hands while praying in church!

  8. I’m just curious how to get my husband to understand how to not do a half done job on something and say “I did it for you, to help you” but I have explained for years how it needs to be done. Example: after your done in the sink, rinse it out so no food and crumbs are left behind. Everytime he is done with the sink. There is food and stuff in the sink and the walls of the sink. It’s so upsetting. Another example : wipe off the counter after your done making something. Everytime crumbs everywhere . Example 3. When coming in the door, put your shoes on the shoe mat. Never happens ! I feel so defeated. Now I’m just lashing out

    1. Sorry, but you can’t make him do it your way. Yes, I agree that it would be helpful, kind, and good for him to be more conscientious with these tasks, but he probably just doesn’t see what you’re seeing. And telling him how to do things better likely comes across as nagging. Even if he responds in the moment by fixing what he did incorrectly, that tactic builds resentment and distance in a relationship. Some alternatives include:

      1. Giving him tasks he does well or that you’re less concerned about, and taking on the ones you’re more particular about.
      2. Asking him questions to help him see what you see, “I’m seeing crumbs. Do you see crumbs?” You have to do this with a nonjudgmental attitude. (But it worked in the one and only disagreement my college roommate and I ever had!)
      3. Letting it go, because it’s not that big a deal in the end. (There’s a limit to this, of course, as in you shouldn’t be expected to carry a much heavier load. But this is the tactic I employed regarding my husband leaving his shoes out. It takes seconds for me to put them away, which ended up being far easier on both of us.)
      4. Inviting him to make a chore list with you and negotiating the distribution of labor.

      Also, talk about the why of things. Why does it matter for him to put his shoes on the mat? He may not see the point, while you have a good reason for it. Both my husband and I have had to do that about issues: explain the underlying concern, so that the request doesn’t seem like a petty, controlling thing but rather a legitimate concern.

      Hope this helps!

    2. I would ask your husband to read Fair Play by Eve Rodsky with you, it’s a great system. Setting up a standard of care is something taught. It’s not okay that he half does jobs and he does see the mess, he just choses not to care. It’s not okay for him to take on a task and not to own it completely by doing it all the way. Washing the sink out and wiping down counters is part of the job. He wouldn’t behave at work that way, so expect him to complete tasks all the way at home. You following behind him and moving his shoes, washing out the sink, and cleaning his crumbs even if it doesn’t take a long time is adding more to your labor and breeds resentment. He needs to be a full adult.

      1. I don’t know that book, but I did see it was a Reese’s Book Club pick! And that the author did a lot of research for it. It might be a helpful resource.

        However, your reading of the situation is quite negative (“he does see the mess,” “he just chooses not to care,” and insinuating he’s not an adult). But we don’t know this person, his history, etc. It’s a lot to assume based on a single blog comment.

        Moreover, being married, having two sons, and hearing from hundreds of men over the years on this, I’m convinced some guys do not perceive the mess many women do. Plus, personalities can view it differently, with some having a much higher tolerance for mess than others. Yes, there needs to be a fair distribution of labor (I’ve said a whole lot in my writing and speaking), but it doesn’t seem fair either to describe this husband as a selfish child, given what little we know.

        I encourage spouses to start with viewing their mate’s actions in the best light, consider their expectations and desires, communicate, negotiate, and then yes, set boundaries if needed.

  9. My husband and I both work outside the home. We also have a farm, a long commute to work and kids schools, and no one is helping the other around the house, we both live here, its the family living in the houses responsibility to take care of the home, its not a gendered thing. I think it is more normal now that women work outside the home jobs and yet sadly still take on the mental load for the family along with the bulk of household tasks. My husband and I through trial and error found the best way to deal with how we operate our home and that is with partnership. I get home first and start on the inside chores, and getting stuff ready to help the morning rush go smoothly, my husband feeds the livestock. I usually can relax for a bit while my husband cooks dinner, then after dinner I do dinner clean up and he relaxes. Its not a turn on to him that I am working around the house, and its not a turn on for me, we are just both doing what needs to be done in a home we share.

    1. Good for y’all! Sounds like you negotiated a great partnership, and I applaud you for it.

      And sure, that kind of sharing of the load is not a turn-on for many, but not feeling like you have a real partner in your marriage is certainly a turn-off.

      1. I posted this as a response to Alie, but apparently it didn’t go through as such. I might be inclined to agree with S’s thoughts (and I also conferred with my husband before posting) but I must also agree with J that we don’t know enough about his motivations to conclude that he’s being childish. My husband tries to help with things and asks me when he’s “done” if there’s anything else as he knows he might not see what I see. But if Alie has already explained time and again what needs to be done it does seem that there’s a disconnect somewhere.

  10. What if you were to redo the task in front of him without commenting? The idea would be that he would notice and say, “I already did that,” and you could respond (without anger), “But there are still crumbs,” or “But I like the sides of the sink to be wiped down, too”. The unspoken message would be that the more time that you have to spend doing those things (again), the less time you have to spend with him in the bedroom, snuggling on the couch, etc. I don’t know if this is too subtle or more manipulative than what J suggests, but this is how I might try approaching the issue (especially if I’d already explained it), with the simple facts of the matter, and cause-and-effect. Your husband’s response – to put in more effort or give up – likely depends on his temperament and his goals in helping at all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *