Being married, as many have found, often leads to a happier sex life.
Being married with children, not so much.
Just about half of new parents report that they had better sex lives before having kids.
According to Penn State researchers who surveyed 169 straight couples in the first year following the birth of their first child, it basically comes down to the stress. No surprise there. But it turns out male stress and female stress are not created equal.
The researchers found that an increase in a wife’s parenting stress “significantly predicted less sexual satisfaction” in her husband, but that a husband’s parenting stress “did not significantly predict” his wife’s sexual satisfaction.
Overall, the study found “greater parenting stress significantly predicted lower sexual satisfaction for mothers but not for fathers.”
One of the study’s authors, Chelom Leavitt, explained that the intense pressure women feel to be perfect parents as well as insecurity about their post-pregnancy bodies are the key culprits.
While the study didn’t explore the reasons why men’s stress had less of an effect, we’re going to go out on a limb and posit that men are more likely to enjoy sex whatever their stress levels, and in fact may find that such simple pleasures actually help relieve stress.
Which means that the more a new dad can do to take on the burdens of childcare, the better.
In addition to helping boost a child’s test scores and cognitive achievements, husbands who shoulder more caregiving responsibilities are likely have happier wives and better sex lives as well. It’s a win-win.
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