Will your sex life survive a baby? It depends on how stressed out your wife is, a new study from Pennsylvania State University suggests.
Researchers surveyed new parents about their stress levels and sexual satisfaction in the first year of their children’s lives.
Overall, 55 percent of men and 69 percent of women were at least “somewhat” happy with their sex lives.
But the more stressed the women were, the less sexually satisfied both parents were.
Even though the dads were as frazzled as the moms, their mental state wasn’t linked to sexual satisfaction at all. Only the mothers’ stress seems to have an impact.
How come? Women tend to feel immense pressure to be perfect mothers, and that pressure can be debilitating, said study author Chelom Leavitt, M.S.
From new-age feeding trends to organic sunscreen to post-pregnancy workouts, many women feel like they are supposed to attend to their kids nonstop and look hot while doing it.
If she feels inadequate, those feelings of insecurity can spill over into other areas of her life—including the bedroom.
Men tend to get more leeway with parental expectations, and their self-worth isn’t as tied up in being a parent, Leavitt said.
So while you may be sleep deprived, busy, and worried about your kid catching another cold at daycare, your wife’s stress may be a heavier, more all-consuming issue.
Make sure you let her know what a killer job she’s doing, and that you think she’s a fantastic mother, Leavitt said.
And since she may be lacking confidence in her post-baby body, tell her how sexy you think she looks—often.
Finally, she’ll feel more secure about her parenting if she knows she’s not solely responsible, so make sure to pull your weight, said Esther Boykin, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist based in Haymarket, Va.
But don’t just assume you know what she needs. Instead, ask her which chores she hates the most—Diaper-changing? Late-night feeding?—and take them off her hands.
You’ll be glad you did later, when she’s got more energy stored up for you.