Parents of preschool or elementary school-aged children, how is your relationship doing? Does the relationship you have with your partner satisfy you? Researchers from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) are currently conducting a research project on the subject in which fathers and mothers of young people aged 4 to 12 are invited to participate.
As we know, the birth of a baby transforms the life of a couple. In recent years, many studies have also looked at the repercussions that this new role of parent has on the marital relationship in the first months of the baby.
But what happens to the couple when the child grows old? Just because the majority of moms and dads are (finally!) getting their nights back to normal doesn’t mean parenthood no longer has an impact on their relationship and sexual satisfaction, noted psychologist and sex therapist Stella Gurreri.
In therapy sessions, she met many parents who consulted for very general problems, for example a lack of communication.
“When we started to do the evaluation of why it became like this, we realized that there was part of it that was attributable to this identity of parent, this role, these responsibilities and, obviously, everything the resulting stress,” explains the professor in the sexology department at UQAM.
If the couple was “good parenting,” meaning they had good communication, mutual trust, and similar values, their problems were less severe. In contrast, some parents who experienced more conflict had never discussed “basic topics,” as Stella Gurreri calls them.
These observations prompted her to set up, with colleagues, a research project entitled “Parental stress and sexual and relationship satisfaction among parents of school-aged children: the moderating role of co-parenting”.
His hypothesis? “It’s that parental stress will affect relationship satisfaction […] but also sexual satisfaction,” replies the lead researcher.
In the past, studies have found that the relationship satisfaction of parents tends to decline until the child reaches the age of 8, points out Stella Gurreri.
The research project carried out by his team is however distinguished by the fact that it also focuses on the sexuality of parents, which has been less studied.
She also wishes to observe the role that co-parenting, or “this ability to collaborate with our spouse”, plays or does not play on the couple relationship.
“If I feel like I’m under-resourced as a parent…but I feel like my spouse and I are a team and I can trust him and fit in the same levels of values […], there is much less chance that it will have an impact on my satisfaction with the couple”, hypothesizes Stella Gurreri.
His team is currently looking for 500 fathers and just as many mothers of one or more children aged 4 to 12 to answer a questionnaire whose duration is estimated at around twenty minutes.
What do the questions look like? “Do you have common interests outside the home?” Do you kiss your partner? Are you laughing together? “, enumerates the researcher.
The participant must also evaluate if he and his partner agree on various subjects such as the budget, the education of the children, the marks of affection, the friends, the amount of time spent together…
So far, more than 90% of respondents are women. Although she is still looking for a certain number of mothers, Stella Gurreri also hopes to reach fathers, a clientele that is more difficult to recruit. However, according to her, it is important to better document what they experience.
Note that it is not necessary that both partners of the couple participate in the study and that it is aimed at nuclear or blended families.