CHICAGO, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A recent study found that when married men and women shared parental responsibilities they had a better relationship and a better sex life as a result.
The new study contradicts previous research that showed traditional roles in a household were good for both relationship and sex life.
While the study, presented annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, was focused on task-oriented child care itself and did not include the housework or upkeep associated with having children, the researchers said that the more equal split showed a significantly positive effect on relationships.
"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," said Daniel Carson, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University, in a press release.
Using data from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Survey, the researchers considered the relationship quality, sexual frequency and quality of sex life for 487 heterosexual couples. The couples were split into three different groups based on childcare: relationships where women handled at least 60 percent of childcare; relationships where men handled at least 60 percent of childcare; and those where men and women did between 40 and 60 percent of the childcare.
Childcare tasks within the research included making and enforcing rules for the children, praising accomplishment and playing with the children.
The study found that fathers can take on a relatively high amount of the childcare with little or no effect on their relationships, Carlson reported in his presentation.
The couples where men shared or handled most of the childcare also reported that whatever amount of sex they were having, they were more satisfied than couples where women did most of the work.
"We only had one physical task, and that task revolved primarily around playing with the children, including sports and games, but nothing about who feeds or bathes them," Carlson said. "We are trying to understand what is it about sharing that couples view so positively."