Researchers in the United States have found that couples who share household chores more equally have less sex. Writing in The Guardian, psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb admits that this chimes with her own experience.
Even though “being stuck with all the chores rarely tends to make wives desire their husbands”, a partner who pitches in with the dishwashing “doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on their libido, either. Many of my colleagues have observed the same thing.”
Of course, the balance of power in the home isn’t just about who does the housework, but also extends to who brings in the bacon. Gottlieb notes that a study by Professor Lynn Cooke of the University of Bath has found that, “if a wife earns more than her husband, the risk of divorce increases”.
Her conclusion is that many couples may “say they want progressive marriages, in which women have the option to do anything their husbands do and vice versa”. However, they “then start to feel uncomfortable when that reality is in place”, which “more often than not, leads to less sexual desire – on both sides”.
A victory for the world of Mad Men? Perhaps not. A different study, by a team from Leicester University School of Management and the German Institute for Economic Research, comes to the opposite conclusion. They found that “couples where the mother’s salary is at least 20% higher than her partner’s stand a better chance of enjoying a stable relationship”.
While this only applied when their children were between the ages of three and five, they found that outside this age group there was no statistically significant negative effect to being a breadwinning wife.
In any case, it seems that relationships where men “marry down” are going the way of other 1950s relics. In their place is “assertive mating” between two people with similar levels of education and income.
The National Bureau of Economic Research in the US shows nearly half of all men with a degree marry a fellow graduate, compared with only a quarter in 1960. While this may be positive for gender equality, the report also points out that a growing number of “power couples” has also contributed to the rising gap between rich and poor.
If navigating the minefield that is modern marriage is difficult amid such contradictory advice, at least most British and American couples don’t have to deal with an overbearing mother-in-law, as is common in Italy.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Cardinal Bagnasco, the Archbishop of Genoa, has complained that mother-son relationships in Italy are “one of the biggest risks to marriage in the country today”.
At the same time, one of Italy’s leading matrimonial lawyers estimated that mothers are responsible for nearly a third of separations. The Daily Telegraph’s Cristina Odone agrees that Italian men’s bond with their mothers “is a Gordian knot that chokes romance, inhibits sex drive, and even has the power to slow the economy”.
Tabloid money: floods drown out a trickle of nasty ooze
• “While public attention focuses on the floods, a trickle of nasty news oozes virtually unnoticed out of Whitehall,” writes the Daily Mirror’s Paul Routledge. Plans to outsource delivery of the state pension “would put in jeopardy the economic lifeline of millions of elderly people”. While private firms may be able to cut costs, it would lead to “a worse service”.
What’s more, “any savings would be short lived and costs would almost certainly rise”. Besides,“ 93% of pensioners are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they get now”.
• George Clooney has “decided he’s had enough of being a film-industry marketing-machine puppet and therefore voiced an opinion on the Elgin Marbles”, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. Clooney thinks they should be “returned to Greece”.
The problem is that the film star “has got it into his head that some red-faced British blueblood simply marched into Athens in the 19th century, saw the Marbles and nicked them”. In reality, “over the centuries many of the sculptures had been looted and others had simply fallen off the walls and smashed”. Indeed, “if Lord Elgin hadn’t stepped in, they wouldn’t exist at all today”.
Instead of “twittering on about wanting them back, the Greeks should write us a letter thanking us for saving them”. Indeed, “as a token of their gratitude”, they might consider “asking if there’s any way they could help out with the flooding”.
• Ed Miliband has called for “MPs to stop having jobs on the side”, says Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines) in The Sun. Indeed, Miliband plans “to outlaw MPs earning more than 15% of their salary from outside interests”.
However, after Miliband made the promise, he decided to promote “former TV historian Tristram Hunt to his shadow cabinet. Tristram, clearly, didn’t get the memo, as he has in the past year trousered more than £36,000 in earnings from his outside work”. This is equivalent to half his MP’s wage – well in excess of his leader’s proposed limit.