Becoming a father can mean less sex but a stronger relationship

Dads can look forward to a stronger bond with their partner but less frequent sex, according to the results of a new study we released for Father’s Day.

The research shows 44% of new dads felt they had a closer relationship with their partner after having a baby, and a further 19% felt they had a stronger bond with their partner.

The research also found that a fifth of new dads (21%) experienced less sex or intimacy with their partner after having a baby, citing less ‘couple’ time, more tiredness and different sleeping arrangements as impacting on their sex lives.

A small number of fathers (6%) said their relationship had been negatively influenced by their baby becoming the centre of attention.

Our Head of Research, Sarah McMullen said: “We’ve got some mixed news for dads – more family time can mean less couple time. Your relationship may flourish but your sex life may not. It’s very common for relationships to go through phases where you or your partner lose interest in sex, or life just gets in the way.

“The dynamics of a new family can mean there is less intimacy between a mum and dad but over time the relationship is often stronger than before.”

Tips to strengthen your relationship

To help maintain a strong relationship, new mothers and fathers are encouraged to:

  • Take time to listen to each other and try to talk openly and honestly with each other. This is a period of immense change so try to be understanding.
  • Approach physical intimacy with sensitivity and a willingness to find new ways of expressing affection until you both feel ready for sex again.
  • Plan a date night or regular time together for just the two of you – try to fit or adapt some of the things you used to enjoy together into your new life, such as watching a DVD or having a takeaway.

Read more about changing relationships and sex after having a baby.

About the study

During 2013–14, our Research and Evaluation Department conducted a mixed-methods longitudinal research study of first-time mothers and fathers’ experiences and attitudes during the first two years following the birth of their baby. In total, 869 first-time mothers and 296 first-time fathers responded in full to the first questionnaire when their babies were on average eight months old.

Fathers were asked two open-ended questions about their relationship with their partner, and how it had changed since having a baby. Thematic analysis was used to analyse their responses.