Model husbands who carry out a fair share of child care duties are likely to be rewarded with better marital relations, research has shown.
Sociologists who studied more than 900 heterosexual married couples found that those who split child caring equally reported more satisfaction with their sex lives and relationships.
When women were mostly or wholly responsible for child care, the quality of relationships and sex was lowest for both parties.
Researcher Daniel Carlson, from Georgia State University in the US, said: “What we find is that there’s generally little to no downside to men being largely responsible for child care.
“We conclude that being an engaged father is very important to men. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t see such a high level of satisfaction. It suggests that father engagement and sharing child care with one’s partner is important to both sexes.”
There was one caveat, however. A man taking on the majority of the child care burden seemed to set the stage for problems in the bedroom.
In that situation, while wives exhibited the highest satisfaction with their sex lives, men demonstrated the lowest.
The findings were presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Chicago.
Mr Carlson said the study was limited in that it only included heterosexual couples and did not examine who fed or bathed the child, which has traditionally been seen as a mother’s responsibility. Further research would look deeper into the reasons why couples who shared child caring got on better together.
“We are trying to understand what it is about sharing that couples view so positively,” said Mr Carlson.