If you’ve noticed your sex life suffering after having kids, don’t worry too much—this is totally normal. After all, keeping little human beings alive is exhausting! According to What to Expect, most parents report that finding the time and energy is the challenge when it comes to sex after kids.
So what can parents do to get back in the groove? According to research, the answer lies not within the bedroom, but in how the couple splits childcare duties.
Researchers from the Georgia State University found that couples who split childcare duties tend to be happier with their relationships and have better sex lives. When women did most of the childcare, that really took a toll on the relationship and sex life.
“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 researcher Daniel Carlson said in a statement.
Men who do their part are “more invested”
Curiously, when men do the bulk of childcare responsibilities, it doesn’t have any negative effects on the couple’s relationship. However, men who did most of the childcare reported the lowest satisfaction in their sex lives out of all the men who participated in the survey. Conversely, their female partners were the most satisfied with their sex lives in the study.
But perhaps it isn’t just sharing responsibilities that makes couples more satisfied with their relationships. Sir Cary Cooper, an expert in organizational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, told BBC that the kind of couples who share their responsibilities tend to have a better relationship dynamic to begin with.
“If you have a ‘new’ man who is happy to share childcare, he probably invests more in the relationship anyway,” he explained.
Go to the next page for tips on splitting childcare duties with your partner.
Gone are the days when it was expected for the mother to do most (if not all) of the childcare responsibilities, and that’s awesome—just look at how it benefits relationships. Here are some tips from BabyCenter and Growing a Family on how to split childcare duties with your partner.
1. Make sure it’s what you want
Even though splitting childcare duties evenly sounds like a win-win situation, this arrangement does come at a cost. For example, you and your partner will have to negotiate a lot more about how you raise your kids so you’re both on the same page. But if you work on your communication and focus on being a team, it can benefit your relationship tremendously.
2. Take stock of the different responsibilities
For one week, list the different things you do around the house, and ask your partner to do the same. Afterwards, compare your lists and see if you want to reassign responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be a 50:50 arrangement (for example, if your partner works and you stay at home, it’s only natural that you do more around the house), but this eye-opening exercise will make it easier for you to work together.
3. Split childcare duties even before your baby arrives
Even before your baby arrives, you and your partner can start talking about how you’re going to divide childcare duties. Do this by listing down the different tasks involved in childcare. Many couples, for example, have the dad being in charge of diaper duty because mom spends so much of her time breastfeeding. Find what works best for you and your partner.
Go to the next page for more tips on splitting childcare with your partner.
4. Work isn’t an excuse
Even if your partner has a full-time job and you stay at home, that shouldn’t mean that he’s exempt from doing his part in the house. The fact that your partner works in an office and you don’t doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard—you’ve been taking care of your child and holding the fort all day, and that’s no joke. By the end of the day, you’re both tired. You can alternate duties so both of you get a chance to have a break.
5. Communicate clearly
You and your partner should freely tell each other what you want and need, and listen to each other as well. If you need your partner to take the baby so you can take a shower, say so instead of lashing out in frustration. Being open and honest about your needs makes it less likely for you to feel like you’ve got the short end of the stick.
6. Don’t pressure yourselves to be perfect
It’s unrealistic to expect your house to be pristine when you’re preoccupied with taking care of a baby, so learn to let things go. You can do big cleanups once a week (or better yet, hire someone to do it), but don’t stress over a little mess.
READ: STUDY: Children with better relationships with fathers less likely to have behavioral problems
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