He does the chores; I reward him with sex. Simple, right? WRONG.
According to Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, "choreplay" is the stuff that keeps couples together and the passion alive in their bedroom. Choreplay, in case you've yet to hear about it, is the concept that men in the relationship actually partake in what is usually thought of as a woman's "duty" — doing laundry, filling the dishwasher, etc. — if it means it'll get their wives in the mood.
Basically, men become equal partners in the chore department in the hopes of sex because there's no reason for a man to do the dishes other than sex, right? (Sarcasm.)
So when I was given the assignment to try this whole choreplay thing for a week, I figured, "What the hell?" But I also thought it would be a bit tricky.
For starters, I work more than my husband. I'm the breadwinner and I prefer to do chores because I'm a type-A clean freak. This doesn't mean that he sits around on his ass demanding things of me, rather, that I prefer to do most of the household stuff because I want to, not because I have to.
Relinquishing my power over doing the dishes and vacuuming wasn't going to be easy, and I knew it would make for an interesting dynamic ― although maybe not the one Sheryl was hoping for. Either way, we went for it.
On Monday, I informed my husband, Olivier, that he would be taking over all the household duties. Of course, he was confused.
I explained that we'd be partaking in some "choreplay" action for the week, and that if he had any questions to Google the term. He did ... then immediately afterward, vacuumed the living room and did what little laundry was dirty that didn't have to be done.
When he finished, he came by my office (the bedroom) to share his accomplishments with me. I thanked him, as I normally would, and then went back to work.
I felt bizarrely in control, as if he were a puppy dog, because he'd never been so excited about cleaning. I'm the one who gets excited about cleaning.
That night, after having worked about 12 hours, I went to bed before him and he fell asleep on the couch. There was no sex to be had for his household contribution. Poor husband.
Tuesday was pretty much the same as Monday but on Wednesday, along with cleaning, Olivier cooked dinner and brought home those delicious Magnum ice cream bars — which, I later learned was an extra incentive to follow through on what Sheryl Sandberg promised him would be his "prize" for being oh-so helpful around the house.
Realizing that I had an assignment to stick to, I "allowed" — and I'm using "allowed" here specifically for the aspect of the choreplay that was at hand — my husband to have sex with me.
Because I really tried to think of it as some sort of reward for his hard work, I hoped sex would feel differently. I hoped there would be some sort of power exchange but I didn't feel anything ... and neither did Olivier. We resolved to take it up a notch on Thursday, to get to the bottom of this whole choreplay thing.
On Thursday, I went into b*tch mode. I don't know if that's what Sheryl Sandberg had in mind, but that's what made the most sense for us because we are equals.
I made Olivier a list of things to do and pretty much threatened him with no sex for a week if he didn't do them ... to which he laughed. (Did I mention we’ve been married less than a year?)
But damnit, we were going to be professional and I was going to produce some hard-hitting journalistic piece that would win some fancy award for all the intense research! Or, at the very least, reach my deadline on time for a change.
Olivier completed his list of chores, which included cleaning the bathroom, changing the sheets, doing the dishes from the night before (it pained me to leave them there), and running some errands around the city. Stuff he probably would have done normally, but since he had it on a list, it seemed more, well, official.
When he was done, I took a break from work to "fulfill" my part of the arrangement. We had sex, which is something we probably would have done anyway when he got home from work.
By Friday afternoon, Olivier didn't want anymore choreplay.
The end result? Choreplay isn’t for Olivier and me.
We are, through and through, equal partners. Sure, I make a bit more money and work more but that's because I have a mini-panic attack if I'm not working. And he’s French, so there is nothing wrong with stereotypes, people!
As Olivier pointed out to me, being the feminist that he is, choreplay just draws attention to the fact that for many heterosexual couples there's a definite inequality when it comes to household chores.
A man (gasp!) doing anything around the house is somehow taboo. And in being taboo, that's somehow hot. But seeing Olivier doing household work wasn't hot for me; it was just an equal division of how we roll as a couple. And I'm really, REALLY, happy about that.