Romance isn’t dead. It just has to do the dishes.
“Choreplay” — exchanging chores for sex — is on the rise and making waves on social media. Wives are cheekily coupling the hashtag #choreplay with images of perfectly tidied playrooms and freshly mopped floors to show that their husbands have been busy around the house — and they’re about to get busy in bed as a reward.
Fans of the practice, such as Kimberly Hume, 38, say it’s a fun, effective way to keep the household running smoothly.
“Husbands absolutely should do chores without a carrot on a stick, just like moms should be able to get through a day with toddlers without drinking wine by 3 p.m., and kids should be able to put their shoes on without the promise of cheesy snacks,” says the San Diego marketing consultant and mother of 3-year-old twins. “But where’s the fun in that?”
Amanda Marcotte, a blogger and mom of one in Middleborough, Mass., is also on Team Choreplay.
“As a working mom, the last thing I want to do when I get home from work, is to do more work, like laundry and dishes,” says the 32-year-old. “If my husband wants a no-questions-asked free pass for sex, he will get it if he checks off those boxes, especially if he does so before he’s asked.”
But the practice is stirring up controversy online — and, experts say, in relationships.
When popular Instagram influencer Bri Dietz shared an image with her 79,678 followers of her and her husband kissing while holding up a letter board reading: “helping with housework so you can get lucky is called choreplay,” she received nearly 900 comments — not all complimentary.
“I seriously hope you end up alone and without a man one day, because this is not only highly disrespectful, it also defies the reason of love. Imagine if a man did this?” wrote one furious male commenter.
More tempered critics caution that choreplay promotes a twisted power dynamic in an era where housework still doesn’t tend to be divided equally in heterosexual relationships.
“Yes, the dishes might get done. But ultimately, you may feel like you’re in a transactional relationship, constantly bartering to get your needs met,” says Samantha Burns, a relationship counselor and author of “Breaking Up and Bouncing Back.” “And that doesn’t feel good.”
That’s why some reserve choreplay for special tasks, not everyday chores. Alison Hill, a 48-year-old writer in Simpsonville, SC, doesn’t bribe her husband for basic cooking and cleaning, but she’ll use it to inspire him to do larger projects around the house. If she wants a piece of furniture assembled, she might dress up in a sexy outfit and then point to it, suggesting a potential reward for the task. Recently, she employed choreplay to get her hubby to move a heavy mirror in their living room — something she’d been wanting him to do for weeks.
“I couldn’t lift it, and I kept asking [him] to do it. He kept putting it off, and I was getting more and more annoyed. Finally, I told him that I would make it worth his while,” she says. “He was motivated, and the whole scenario spiced up the weekend for both of us.”
To get in the mood, Hill will sometimes hand her husband his to-do list while wearing a tight cleavage-revealing dress. “It’s so much better than nagging, and puts us both in a good place.”
This is why some couples feel the best way to beat housework blues is to DIY housework together. Instead of bribes, the Boyle family books a babysitter for their two kids to give themselves time to work on their to-do list.
“We came up with the idea of ‘chore dates’ about two years ago, when we were both feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff we had to do,” says Erin Boyle, 34, a writer and content strategist in Brooklyn Heights. For the Boyles, a chore date consists of one annoying task, followed by a nice dinner out or an intimate supper at home.
“If we can multitask and have it be romantic as we get things done, all the better,” says Erin. “There’s no need for everything to be so quid pro quo.”
But some couples have found that choreplay — even with the best of intentions — is best left alone.
“I wanted my husband to make a fire pit in our backyard, and told him that if he did it that weekend, I would spend the entire night focusing on him in the bedroom,” says Laura B., a New Jersey-based consultant who declined to give her last name for privacy reasons. “He ended up injuring his back setting up the rocks, and was out of commission for a month. It made me feel bad, like he ignored common sense over the prospect of sex.”
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