Heterosexual couples who divide child care duties equally are more satisfied with their relationships - and their sex lives - than those who split domestic duties in other ways, according to new research.
They also fight less, the data suggests.
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When women did the majority of the work, however, relationships suffered.
"One of the most important findings is that the only child care 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 child care," said study author Daniel L. Carlson in a release.
When men took on most of the responsibilities, relationship satisfaction didn't suffer. Interestingly, however, while the frequency of sex in men-do-more relationships was the same as in egalitarian couples, perceptions of the quality of the sex differed by gender: Women in those relationships reported having the highest quality sex of all those surveyed. The men, however, reported the lowest level of quality of sex.
"These are not minor differences at all," Carlson told The Washington Post. "These are gulfs of difference between egalitarian and traditional couples in terms of relationship conflict, relationship satisfaction and for quality of sex."
These findings may not surprise anyone who has ever felt overburdened by domestic duties, and they come on the heels of previous research that shows a more equal division of labor translates into more coupled contentment.
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But it's a good reminder that equality in child rearing has benefits beyond sharing diaper duty and making trips to the orthodontist.
"This isn't surprising at all," sociology professor Robin Simon told HealthDay. "Any way you look at it, by every measure, studies have consistently found that egalitarian marriages end up making for more satisfying relationships."
More sex, too.
When Carlson's team analyzed trends in sex frequency, they found that people have been having less sex for years – except for those in equal partnerships.