Is Sharing Childcare Duties The Key to a Happier Sex Life?

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A new study by sociologists at Georgia State University found that sharing childcare responsibilities may lead to a better sex life and increased marital satisfaction. The sociologists analyzed data obtained from the 2006 Marital Relationship Study reflecting the opinions of 487 heterosexual couples. Their findings are to be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Researchers grouped the participating couples into three different categories; (1) women did most or all of the child care; (2) men did most or all of the child care and; (3) child care responsibilities were shared.

Relationship quality was assessed by reported relationship satisfaction and conflict, and the researchers also examined how often couples had sex and how they felt about it. Child care was defined within three dimensions in the study: physical/emotional child care, interactive child care and passive child care (supervision and monitoring). The researchers also measured child care by looking at four distinct tasks: rule making and enforcing, giving praise and playing with the children.

The researchers found couples reported a lower quality relationship with their partner and less satisfying sex where one parent handled most of the child care responsibilities. The researchers also found that men who did less work had less satisfying sex than men who were more involved (who either split the work evenly or did more than half).

“One of the most important findings is that the only child care arrangement that appears really problematic for the quality of both a couple’s relationship and sex life is when the woman does most or all of the child care,”  Daniel L. Carlson, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University, said in a press statement .

This current research contradicts other recently published studies which suggested that couples in which both partners take on more traditional gender roles tend to be happier. A study published in 2012 in the American Sociological Review, for example, found couples in which the husband took responsibilities for certain household chores that are typically characterized as “feminine”—such as folding laundry, cooking and vacuuming—had sex 1.5 times less per month than couples in which the man handled more typically “masculine” tasks such as taking out the garbage or fixing the car. That study found that couples that had typical gender roles for household tasks were happier overall.

With many households consisting of two working parents, it is important for families to balance childcare responsibilities and household chores. As this recent study shows, sharing responsibilities for childcare will not only make your life easier but can help your marital relationship.

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