To date, research on the transition to parenthood and associated changes in relationship satisfaction (RS) has focused predominantly on mothers with their firstborn. This study targeted fathers to investigate their trajectories of RS with a particular focus on emerging differences between first- and second-time fathers. It furthermore considered various predictors such as the role of age, education, income, duration of relationship, marital status, child's biological sex, and child temperament. Data from a total of 606 fathers from the prospective longitudinal cohort study DREAM were analyzed. The analyses included assessments of four measurement time points (T1: prepartum; T2-T4: postpartum) over a period of more than 2 years. Latent growth curve modeling was applied with RS as the dependent variable and number of children as one of eight predictors of growth over time. First-time fathers showed higher initial RS, however experienced a steeper decline in the transition to parenthood than second-time fathers. At 8 weeks postpartum, first-time fathers still reported higher RS than second-time fathers. While RS continued to decline for first-time fathers up until 14 months postpartum, second-time fathers experienced an increase in RS. At 14 months and 2 years postpartum, second-time fathers showed higher RS scores than first-time fathers. Similar to first-time mothers, first-time fathers seem to experience a stronger RS decline during the transition to parenthood than second-time fathers, suggesting that especially couples becoming parents for the first time should be prepared for expected changes in their relationship.
|Publication status||Published - 30 Aug 2023|