Couples who manage to evenly divide child care duties tend to have higher-quality relationships, as well as sex lives. This is the takeaway from a new study being presented to the American Sociological Association in Chicago this week. Researchers interviewed nearly 500 heterosexual couples with kids and found that when both the man and the woman each did roughly 50% of the duties, such as diaper changing, bedtime reading, carpool planning, and playing in the park, "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," one sociologist tells the Washington Post.
"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," says the lead researcher in a press release. When men take on the bulk, couples have just as much sex and are just as satisfied with how much sex they're having, although in another interesting twist, these men report having the lowest-quality sex lives, while their partners report having the highest. One psychologist tells the BBC that the findings may say more about the types of people who decide to parent in a more egalitarian manner: "If you have a 'new' man who is happy to share childcare, he probably invests more in the relationship anyway." The research is limited in that it didn't analyze same-sex couples and only followed a narrow group of child care activities. (Women are more likely to have more sex if they're getting more of this.)