Ladies, if you are looking for a way to get the man in your life to help with childcare duties, sociologists at Georgia State University (GSU) may have provided a strong incentive. According to a study presented Aug. 23 at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA), heterosexual couples who split child-rearing responsibilities have more satisfying relationships and sex lives.
“One of the most important findings is that the only childcare 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 childcare,” lead study author Daniel L. Carlson, an assistant professor of sociology at GSU, said in an ASA news release.
For the study, Carlson and his colleagues used data collected from 487 couples who participated in the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey. The GSU researchers divided the couples into three categories – relationships in which the women handled most of the childcare (at least 60 percent), relationships in which men did most of the child-rearing (at least 60 percent), and relationships in which partners split childcare responsibilities (40 percent to 60 percent each).
In addition, the researchers looked at the quality of the couples’ relationships. In particular, they focused on their relationship satisfaction, relationship conflict, how often they had sex and the quality of their sex lives.
Findings showed that when mothers shouldered most of the childcare, both parents felt that their overall relationship and sex life were lacking. By contrast, when fathers handled most of the childcare, both partners indicated their relationship was just as strong as the couples who split child-rearing responsibilities.
Carlson and his colleagues also found that the moms of kids whose dads pitched in the most ranked their sex lives even higher than women in couples who split childcare equally. Those dads, however, painted a different picture. Although they were content with the amount sex they were having, they ranked the quality of their sex lives the lowest of all the men in the study.
Carlson told The Washington Post that overall, “Egalitarian couples fought less. They had higher quality relationships. They were more satisfied with their sex lives, and they were more satisfied with the amount of sex they were having.”
Carlson suggested that what matters the most seems to be the degree to which the couples were satisfied with their childcare arrangement. “Satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, is a strong predictor of how much conflict a couple has, how satisfied they are generally with being together in a relationship, and whether they’re happy with the quality and quantity of sex they are having,” Carlson told HealthDay.
“The main story here is that this study clearly shows that when it comes to childcare, when couples share the workload and both partners pitch in, it produces higher quality solid relationships, less conflict, better communication and more intimacy,” noted Carlson.