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I came across a situation this week where a couple is struggling with one partner’s alcohol addictio

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

I’m not so into sex. My partner loves it. He would ideally like it every day. We end up having sex about once a week. I figure if I can get him to do things for me, I will feel better about conceding to sex. For instance, I offer sex if he can pay our bills or fix something around our house. I’ll even offer oral sex if he can clean the bathroom. Sometimes I feel like I am trading sex for chores. Is this a reasonable arrangement to do?

—Housework Sex

Dear Housework,

It sounds like you are operating from a scenario of quid pro quo. As relationship expert John Gottman says, it’s not beneficial for partners in a marriage to be “emotional accountants.” There is too much room for resentment when we keep tabs, because too often they don’t equally add up. Furthermore, keeping score prevents partners from developing an environment of spontaneous generosity. Like a pay-it-forward mentality, when we give freely without keeping tabs, our partners want to reciprocate in kind. It’s a positive feedback loop that naturally keeps resupplying itself.


I also encourage you to look at your disinterest in sex. It’s normal to have differences in sex drive where one person has a higher or lower libido than the other. Neither person is in the wrong; it’s simply a difference. However, when there is a disinterest because of relational issues, it is a good idea to explore the quality of trust and friendship in the relationship.


Sex and emotional connection ultimately cannot be disconnected in an intimate relationship. When you're keeping score, it really doesn't sound like you're that connected to him.

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