WARNING-this post also contains stuff about sex, so don't read it if you're under 18 or related to me END WARNING.
I've figured it out. After five and a half years, some of them difficult, some of them great, I have worked out what makes life easier and marital relations run smoothly, 99% of the time.
And it's having lots of sex.
That seems to be the first thing to go when you get too busy and you're working and/or have kids or just have a lot of stress in your life. In my brief surveys on the topic, I find that women are more likely to hold back than men are. This may be because women need to feel some emotional connection, and that needs to be a good emotion. Men don't seem to have that need as much. You could probably cut off your partner's toe, admit that you did it on purpose, then say "So, you want to go at it?" and he'd say "Sure, let me cauterize this thing and get my pants off."
I guess I can give credit to (or blame) these Dan Savage podcasts for my change in thinking. He made me realize how important that connection with your partner is. I mean, if you're not having sex you might as well just be roommates. And lack of it makes people crabby. Unless you're in one of those crazy swinging non-monogamous relationships (and good luck with that if you are, but hell if I'M shaving my legs for more than one guy) then it's something you share exclusively with your partner, and you need to remember how special it is.
So even if you don't really feel like it, get in there. I've found that it doesn't take long to change your mind, even if your thought right now is "He hasn't done dishes or bathed the kids in three weeks, he can go fuck himself, and so can you, for giving me this advice."
But here's the secret-a guy getting a lot of sex will do ANYTHING to keep getting a lot of sex. So if your sex life has been kind of slow, and it picks back up in a major way, you will both be in a better mood, and he will start doing the dishes. He will start doing anything you want just to keep that door open. The secret has been in our pants this whole time!
And I won't get too graphic here but ever since I embarked on this plan, I have a happier husband, a happier me, I've had dishes done, and the other day when I was heading downstairs with a basket full of laundry, he said "Allow me, my lady" and took it down and started it for me. You get to enjoy yourself, AND chores get done! (If you don't enjoy sex with your partner, I'm not really qualified to advise you on that. Come to think of it, I'm not really qualified to advise you on anything.)
So give it a shot and see if it doesn't work. And guys, if your wife/girlfriend reads this and you reap the benefits, I DO have an amazon wishlist if you want to thank me.