UBC Theses and Dissertations
Does sexual satisfaction mediate daily associations between body satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in new parent couples? Fitzpatrick, Erin Tracy
Becoming parents can be an exciting yet challenging experience for couples. Many couples experience significant changes to their sexual and relationship satisfaction within the first year postpartum. Birthing parents’ and their partners’ bodies also change throughout pregnancy, leaving the postpartum as a vulnerable time for changes to body satisfaction. Research sampling community and new parent couples find links between dissatisfaction with one’s own or one’s partner’s body and poorer sexual satisfaction. Cross sectional studies have revealed that the link between body satisfaction and relationship satisfaction is explained by sexual satisfaction; however, no research has examined this longitudinally which is a stronger test of mediation. The goal of this study was to examine whether sexual satisfaction mediates associations between daily satisfaction with one’s own and one’s partner’s body and relationship satisfaction from 3- to 4-months postpartum. We hypothesized that one’s own sexual satisfaction would explain (i.e., mediate) daily associations between new parents’ satisfaction with their own and their partner’s bodies and both parents’ relationship satisfaction. New parent couples (N = 241) completed daily surveys for 21 consecutive days beginning at 3-months postpartum. On days when birthing parents reported greater satisfaction (than their average across all days) with their own or their partner’s body, they also reported higher sexual satisfaction and in turn, higher relationship satisfaction. On days when non-birthing parents reported greater satisfaction (than their average across all days) with their own or their partner’s body, they also reported higher sexual satisfaction and in turn, both parents reported higher relationship satisfaction. These findings are important because if left unaddressed, problems in couples’ sexual and romantic relationships can lead to disruptions for the entire family. Our results suggest that the effects of postpartum body satisfaction on relationship satisfaction are at least partially explained by sexual satisfaction at the daily level.
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