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We're a little crazy, about science!

Want a better relationship and a better sex life?

Want a better relationship and a better sex life?

If men take up more of the child-care duties, splitting them equally with their female partners, heterosexual couples have more satisfaction with their relationships and their sex lives, according to new research by sociologists. The group used data from more than 900 heterosexual couples’ responses in the 2006 Marital Relationship Study (MARS).

The researchers found that when women were responsible for most or all of the child care, both parties reported both the lowest quality relationships and sex lives.

“The important point to be made is that when we’re looking at child care, the difference that we find is really between arrangements where the mother is largely responsible for child care and everything else,” Daniel L. Carlson said.

Beyond splitting child care responsibilities equally, dads in a heterosexual relationship could take on the majority of child-care responsibility without negative effects on the quality of the couples’ relationships. These couples had just as much sex as couples with egalitarian arrangements, and were just as satisfied with the amount of sex they were having.

“What we find is that there’s generally little to no downside to men being largely responsible for child care,” Carlson said.

“We conclude that being an engaged father is very important to men. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t see such a high level of satisfaction. It suggests that father engagement and sharing child care with one’s partner is important to both sexes.”

There is one caveat, however.

Carlson said that when men do the majority of the child care, their female partners exhibited the highest overall satisfaction with their sex lives, but men demonstrated the lowest overall satisfaction with their sex lives.

The research was limited in some respects, including the fact that only heterosexual couples, and no same-sex couples, were studied. Although the researchers examined five different kinds of tasks across three dimensions of child care, the measures of child care were fairly limited, especially when it came to physical child-care tasks.

“We only had one physical task, and that task revolved primarily around playing with the child, including sports and games, but nothing about who feeds or bathes the child,” Carlson said.

“The latter physical, instrumental tasks have traditionally been the responsibility of women.”

Carlson also wants to learn more about the mechanisms behind why these couples with more egalitarian child-care arrangements reported better relationship quality and sex lives.

“We are trying to understand what is it about sharing that couples view so positively,” he said.

Sources:
Daniel Fowler et al. (2015). Couples That Split Childcare Duties Have Higher Quality Relationships and Sex Lives
American Sociological Association Other: Link

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2 responses

  1. MMK

    This is a very interesting hypothesis that studies couples behavior and how they influence each other. “If men take up more of the child-care duties, splitting them equally with their female partners, heterosexual couples have more satisfaction with their relationships and their sex lives.” I can definitely agree with this statement. Evaluating my own relationship, I fall into the category of being the female mainly responsible for our child. Also matching up with the results in this study I am primarily responsible for all of our other household chores. If I had more assistance with our child that would definitely help alleviate some stress. Therefore contributing to a more satisfied relationship and sex life. Not to say I am unhappy with my relationship or sex life but a little help now and then is greatly appreciated. This study can potentially be a very promising one considering it is an extremely relatable topic and there are many subjects to learn from. An ongoing study of how couples interact with one another when sharing responsibilities could reveal a lot. As well as help couples who may be struggling to understand each other better. However not every relationship is going to fall into these categories. It would be safe to say that some couples would disagree with these results. In conclusion, we can assume that for the majority, these results are valid. Nevertheless, there will be cases that do not follow the researchers findings.

    August 23, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    • Well maybe you should pass the study on to your partner! Thanks for taking the time to comment and sharing your own thoughts since you are in that particular category of people.

      I think you are right and there are probably more than just a few couples that wouldn’t agree with the conclusion.

      August 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

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