Boost her satisfaction before you even make it to the bedroom

Sex leads to babies. Babies require care. Care can lead to more sex. Assuming due attention to birth control, it’s the perfect system, right?

But before you plot your nookie binge, here’s how the “care” aphrodisiac works. If you’re sharing childcare equally, your wife’s sexual satisfaction soars, according to new research from the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. (For more science-backed ways to boost satisfaction in the sack—complete with explicit how-to instructions—check out How to Pleasure a Woman, the ultimate sex manual from the editors of Men’s Health.)

OK, not exactly. But almost. In the study, women who shared childcare duties equally with their husbands reported higher quality relationships, better sex lives, and less conflict with their partners than moms who provided the majority of the care. What’s more, they expressed greater satisfaction with how often they have sex.

Not surprisingly, men reported the highest levels of sexual satisfaction when childcare was split equally, too. So you can have your own screaming orgasm, after wiping the oatmeal off the ceiling.

Sharing tasks is what both partners actually want, so they’re happier when it all goes according to plan, says study author Dan Carlson, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University.

“This means other aspects of their relationship go more smoothly,” he says. “And when couples don’t achieve their desired arrangement, they are likely to build resentment and hostility toward each other.”

So the silk sheets stay in the closet.

But, because these egalitarian relationships are built on factors like open communication and cooperation, they can set the stage for a closer, more intimate (synonym: naked) relationship, he says.

So How Can You Become a Better Dad? Remember, you were there at the beginning (or, we certainly hope so). Carry the same enthusiasm you had at conception into her pregnancy.

Engage with that swelling abdomen. Talk to your future child. Sing, if you dare. Or pop your headphones onto her belly, for the fetus’ first exposure to Kanye. Paint a huge smiley face on her mom porch, with chocolate syrup, then lick it off. Set the tone: Parenthood is fun!

Once the baby is born, you might feel that infant and childcare are more naturally areas of female expertise. But you have your own natural instincts, dad, and your kids will depend on them.

There are a host of scientific studies that demonstrate that, though your parenting style may be different than your wife’s, both are crucial to a kid’s wellbeing. Dads tend to roughhouse more with their kids, and they encourage risk-taking behavior.

Fathers also tend to discipline more sternly. But all of that helps kids grow more confident, succeed more in school, and avoid disappointing events, like turning you into a grampa before she attends the senior prom.

Don’t let that happen! Mix it up with your kids, for cripesakes.

Send your wife off for a weekend with the girls, while you wallow in the mud with your offspring. Announce that it’s dinner in the great ape house, and that you’re all going to eat with your hands.

Do “dangerous” stuff, like balancing on a fence rail, climbing a scary-high tree, or “bus surfing” by avoiding the handholds as you ride public transport to the museum. Hit the climbing wall, or spelunk a little. Have a scary movie (within reason!) film festival, and hide under blankets during the bad parts.

As long as the only downside is scrapes or maybe a few tears, you’ll help cultivate a sense of bravery in your kids. It’s not that your wife can’t do these things, too, it’s that you choose to, and that you put in the hours with your kids to see the adventure through.

Now, depending on your wife, she may welcome all this, or be terrified by it. But showing both your competence (no major injuries in 3 months and 4 days!) and initiative (“I’ve booked us a cabin on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!”) can help prevent something called “gatekeeping,” where the mom feels like she’s best equipped to care for the kids.

If dad buys into that, too, he starts to back away from childcare because he’s afraid to do something wrong—and the mom can begin to feel resentful for holding all the responsibility, says Kyle Pruett, M.D., a clinical professor in the Child Study Center at Yale and coauthor of Partnership Parenting.

You’re on the superhighway to a sex-free marriage.

Instead, volunteer for tasks that especially benefit from a dad’s hand. If Junior is bouncing off the walls after dinner, take him outside and run him ragged. Or if your daughter bawls her eyes out when she has to leave for school, assume drop-off duty—kids want their fathers to see them as competent, so separation conflicts aren’t as big a deal as they are with moms, Dr. Pruett says.

The opportunities are there, dad, if you’ll only seize them. You’ll have a blast, and so will the kids.

Oh, you’ll have more sex too, remember? Every sundae needs a cherry.

Reporting by Christa Sgobba

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