HUSBANDS who stick to "male" household jobs such as gardening and maintaining the car have more sex, new research suggests.
Married couples who divided the chores around the home along traditional lines reported making love more frequently than those who shared them.
Academics discovered men who took on "female" tasks like cooking, cleaning and shopping had less regular sex.
Previous research had found that husbands who did more housework had more sex, but did not look at what kind of chores they were doing.
In the new study, sociologists from the University of Washington in the US found that on average couples jointly spent 34 hours a week on traditionally female jobs and 17 hours a week on tasks generally considered to belong to the man's domain.
Typically husbands did about one- fifth of the household's "female" chores and just over half of "male" household work.
On average, the couples said they had sex about five times in the month before they were questioned for the study.
However, those in marriages where the wife did all the traditionally female tasks reported having had sex about 1.6 times more per month than those where the husband did all the "feminine" jobs.
One of the study's authors warned that husbands should not take the findings as an excuse for not helping with the cleaning and cooking. Sabino Kornrich said: "Men who refuse to help around the house could increase marital conflict and lower their wives' marital satisfaction."
The analysis was based on a national survey of 4500 American married couples carried out between 1992 and 1994, the most recent large-scale study that measured how often husbands and wives had sex.
The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal American Sociological Review, said it was unlikely that the division of housework and frequency of sex had changed significantly since the data was gathered. They ruled out other possible explanations for their findings, including the couples' religion, income, employment status and happiness in their marriages.
Julie Brines, another of the report's authors, said: "The results show that gender still organises quite a bit of everyday life in marriage. It seems that the gender identities husbands and wives express through the chores they do, also help structure sexual behaviour."
She added: "Marriage today isn't what it was 30 or 40 years ago, but some things remain important. Sex and housework are still key aspects of sharing a life, and both are related to marital satisfaction and how spouses express their gender identity."
Research has previously suggested there may be downsides to gender equality when it comes to jobs around the house. A Norwegian study last year found that divorce rates were about 50% higher among couples who divide the housework than in those where the woman does the lion's share of the chores.
"What we've seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn't necessarily contribute to contentment," said co-author Thomas Hansen. – The Daily Telegraph
Facebook friends share their views
A SNAP survey on The Herald's Facebook page showed that most people agreed with the research. This is what they had to say.
Celeste Fairchild: My husband multi-tasks in and out the house. We share a mutual respect for each other as we both work. Makes me appreciate him so much more for not paying attention to the stigma of what a "man" is supposed to be.
Melanie Swanepoel: My husband does the "man chores" and I think it is super-sexy.
Janie Weyers: I'd much rather watch him/her washing the car than washing the dishes.
Marietjie Steenkamp: My all-time fantasy to marry a butler! Perfect.
Joan Lovemore-Hope: Agreed, but only if chores are done without nagging and if wife who has a heavier load is a kept woman and does not need to work full-time.
Kit Chowles: A woman's job is to cook, clean and raise the kids. Hubby's job is to bring in the income.
Barbara Crowe: If I had to work to earn an income, balance that with managing the children's homework and activities, cook, clean, wash and iron, while hubby sits with his feet up ... Well, you know where this is going. This statement can only apply to housewives not working mothers.
Melissa Helen Sterckx: If a man actually takes on some of the "woman's" chores he will be too tired to get his freak on in bed later. Women work hard around the house, look after kids, cook, have a full-time job and are then expected to be sparky in bed later! Sorry men, time to get with the programme. Us ladies work hard as well! Get fit and keep up with us, ha-ha-ha!
Brandon Schmidt: Anyone got a lawnmower to lend me ... LOL
Joel Jabz Human: Hey cook, clean house, fix the car, do gardening, drill a hole, whatever the case may be. Have a lot of sex, it's good for your health!