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Men: Help Out Around the House—Without First Being Asked

Helping out around the house also helps your relationship

Being helpful around the house will go a long way toward strengthening your loving relationship. This is because your wife or girlfriend will see you as attentive, loving, and committed. Yes, flowers and candlelight dinners have their place, too. Offering nice dinners and flowers if you're not helping with the housework, however, is like running the heat and the air conditioning at the same time: They just negate each other. As I wrote in my relationship book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, doing random, and not-so-random, acts of kindness goes a long way in creating lasting love.

What I am saying here is that if you do laundry and fold it from time to time, then you are really hitting above par. Doing domestic, caring acts around the house releases a chemical called oxytocin in both of you. Oxytocin is the “love hormone” that also acts as a neurotransmitter. When you demonstrate your caring to your wife or girlfriend, this releases nature's aphrodisiac. Similarly, when you fill your wife’s car with gas without her asking you to, this also produces a pulse of oxytocin release.

Years ago, a female colleague shared that one evening she had been doing last-minute work on a presentation on relationship satisfaction that she was to give the following morning. She told me that her husband, usually an attentive, sensitive type of guy, said that he was going to take a shower. Caught up in her final, frantic preparation, she half smiled and responded, “No problem." Ten minutes later he called out to her through the open bedroom door, “Honey, come on in. I’ve got something for you.” (As an aside, this woman’s children were out of the house.) Back to the story…..

She reluctantly broke away from fine-tuning her PowerPoint slides on her laptop. After all, she told herself, "Maybe he's about to indulge me with a nurturing, random act of kindness. Something special, perhaps?" She had no idea what she was about to encounter. She walked in the bedroom only to see him lying on his back, naked, and spread eagle. My colleague frowned and walked out of the room. They did talk and clear the air, however, soon after this incident. Her husband profusely apologized for his lack of consideration of her stress with the presentation looming the following morning.

Suffice it to say, this usually good guy had a serious case of bad timing. What my colleague really wanted at that point was for her husband to have washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. The point here is that being a domestically active man is far more of a turn-on than being a guy in denial. Especially if this means not picking up your dirty socks, lying around on the couch watching excessive numbers of sports shows, and not listening to your lady.

Expecting her to be loving with you when you are not helping out around the house will not further your cause. So remember, being domestically attentive to the woman in your life goes a long way toward fostering feelings of love for you. Don’t wait to be asked to clean up! Do it on your own and do it because it is the right thing to do. And every morning, tell your wife or girlfriend that she looks beautiful and that you love her. Love is a precious commodity. Treasure your woman, treasure yourself, be a helpful partner at home, and treasure your love.

Front page image credit: Dreamstime

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over 23 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared on The Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS Eyewitness News Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC, and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to a Less Distracted Child (Perseus, 2007), Why Can't You Read My Mind?, and Liking the Child You Love, Perseus, 2009).