Parents who share childcare also have a better sex life

But if women do the majority of the work it can have a negative effect

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Couples who share childcare are more likely to have a healthy relationship and more satisfying sex life.

In a study of heterosexual couples, sociologists found that when women look after the children for at least 60% of the time, couples were less happy with how often they were having sex and experienced poorer relationships.

However, when men did most of the childcare, there was no such negative impact on the quality of the relationship or time in the bedroom. In fact, they were as happy as couples who shared childcare equally.

The study of 487 couples by researchers at Georgia State University surveyed three groups of participants chosen at random: one where women did the most childcare, one where men did, and one where childcare was split evenly.

 

They were then asked to report on relationship satisfaction and conflict, how often the couple had sex and how happy they were with that.

Dr Daniel Carlson, study leader and assistant professor of sociology, said the study shed new light on the importance of men being involved in childcare - rather than women, as is traditionally focussed on.

"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," Dr Carlson told the BBC.

"It suggests that father engagement and sharing childcare with one's partner is important to both sexes," he added in the report.

The reasons for all this are not yet quite clear. Other commentators told the BBC that men who invest more time in looking after their children probably invest more in the relationship overall.

In that sense, the study could say more about the kind of couples who share responsibilities, rather than the direct effect of childcare hours on sex lives.

It also missed out certain physical care tasks, such as bathing and feeding, which might change the results slightly, the report added.

The findings will be presented to the American Sociological Association.

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