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Written by: Michelle Flynn
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently published a study on sexual satisfaction in first-time parents. Parents who took part in this study were asked about co-parenting, parenting stress, role overload (feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities), number of hours worked per week, and satisfaction with the division of household labour when their child was six months old. Then, when their child was 12 months old, parents were asked to answer questions about satisfaction with their overall sex life, frequency of sex and cuddling, and amount of romance and passion in their relationships. Researchers wanted to see if factors related to parenting six months after birth would predict aspects of sexual satisfaction 12 months after birth. The study’s main findings are listed below.
1. Being more satisfied with the division of household labour six months after birth predicted being more satisfied with sex life, amount of passion, and frequency of cuddling 12 months after birth.
2. Experiencing more parenting stress six months after birth predicted being less satisfied with frequency of sex and overall sex life 12 months after birth.
3. Experiencing greater role overload six months after birth predicted less satisfaction with amount of passion and frequency of cuddling 12 months after birth.
4. Finally, spending more time on paid labour predicted greater sexual satisfaction, but only to a point. After this point, spending additional hours on paid labour predicted lower sexual satisfaction. For satisfaction with sex life, this decline began around 25-30 work hours per week; for satisfaction with frequency of sex, 20-25 hours per week; for satisfaction with frequency of cuddling, 15-20 hours per week; and for satisfaction with amount of passion, 25-35 hours per week.
1. Feeling greater role overload six months after birth predicted less satisfaction with frequency of sex, amount of passion, and frequency of cuddling 12 months after birth.
2. Being more satisfied with the division of labour six months after birth predicted greater satisfaction with romance 12 months after birth.
3. Spending more time on paid labour at six months after birth predicted lower satisfaction with overall sex life 12 months after birth.
Overall, these findings suggest that sexuality is an important component of relationship dynamics in first-time parents and therefore should be considered when evaluating the difficulties first-time parents face. However, it is important to note that the sample was not ethnically diverse, nor did it include same-sex couples or couples with an adopted child. For these reasons, the study’s findings may not represent what is true for all first-time parents.
Maas, M. K., McDaniel, B. T., Feinberg, M. E., & Jones, D. E. (2015). Division of labor and multiple domains of sexual satisfaction among first-time parents. Journal of Family Issues, 1-24. doi: 10.1177/0192513X15604343