Would You Rather Have a Clean House or a Night of Great Sex?

By Dr. Laura Berman

A neat house shouldn’t be more important than connecting with your spouse.

A recent study performed in the United Kingdom found that more than one-third of people said they would rather have a clean house than have sex with their spouse. They also rated a clean house above a fun night out and also above a vacation.

Have we become too obsessed with having a clean house, and why does a sparkling kitchen floor supersede our desire to have sex?

Sadly, I think it’s a sentiment that is familiar to many people there, especially people who have been together for long time. When the butterflies and the honeymoon passion fades away, it can be easy for couples to start thinking of another as roommates rather than sex partners. Instead of coming home and thinking about how you want to rip off your partner’s clothes, you come home and moan that the dishwasher hasn’t been unloaded or that there are bagel crumbs under the toaster.

To make matters worse, the pressure to tidy up is tenfold for women. Numerous studies have found that women still take on the bulk of housework and childcare even when they work full-time jobs outside the home. The recent U.K.study found that women report doing 6 hours more housework a week than their partners. That all adds up to plenty of stress and energy spent on the home rather than on sexual pleasure.

There’s a wise saying that goes “Energy goes where attention flows.” In other words, our lives and our external efforts tend to reflect our inner landscape. If your mind is a frenetic to-do list (clean the stove, empty the dishwasher, make the kids’ beds, call the vacuum repair place, etc.), then your life is going to reflect this same chaos. It’s also going to reflect where your attention truly is—that is, your carpet rather than your marriage or your housework rather than your sexual pleasure.

Now imagine if you did just the opposite. What if, for one week, you refused to stress over little things like crumbs on the counter or dog hair on the couch? What if, for one week, you focused that internal energy onto activities that fulfilled you and enriched you? Instead of reaching for the vacuum, you’d reach for your partner. Instead of spending Friday night sorting the laundry, you’d spend it at a romantic dinner with your spouse.

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds great…but what about my messy house? First of all, it’s important to ask yourself what bothers you about your house. Is it really dirty or is it more that you wish your life could be organized and streamlined like the homes you see in magazines or on television? Chances are that your house isn’t actually a dirty or unsanitary place to live—it’s just that you wish it looked more picture-perfect and that the kids and the pets weren’t always getting into anything. It might be time to accept that your home is never going to look like the cover of a magazine. Instead, it might be a house that’s a little cluttered and messy but a house that is filled with love, passion, and life.

Lastly, there is one surefire way to make your home cleaner, your life less stressed, and your sex more passionate…if you both pitch in to help keep the house tidy. Household chores are not a woman’s job, regardless of if she works outside the home or not. It is everyone’s job to keep their home clean, and that includes Mom, Dad, and the kids as well. When you make a home egalitarian and you ensure that everyone is pulling their weight, the job becomes much easier and everyone feels much more relaxed and appreciated.

My advice? Never put a clean home before a night of great sex, but find a healthy balance and make both happen by working as a team.

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