Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-kw98b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-21T17:50:44.963Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2010

Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, USA
Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, USA
Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, USA
Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, USA


Most analyses of the contraceptive decision-making in which couples engage are based on the reports of only one partner, usually the female partner. This study uses information from the 2006 National Couples Survey conducted in the US, which was obtained from both partners in intimate heterosexual relationships to investigate the relative impact of the male and female partner's method preferences on the type of method they use together. It also investigates the extent to which differences in power between the partners, measured on multiple dimensions, may weigh the decision-making process toward one partner or the other. The results suggest that men's and women's method preferences are both significantly related to the couples' method choice. Further, there is no evidence of a significant gender difference in the magnitude of these relationships, although women in married and cohabiting relationships appear to have greater power over method choice than women in dating relationships. The analysis also finds that structural power as measured by relative education and income affects partner differences in the relationship between preferences and method choice, but is more important for married and cohabiting couples than for dating couples. In contrast, relationship-based power sources, including relative commitment and relative relationship alternatives, have significant effects only for dating couples.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Agnew, C. R. (1999) Power over interdependent behavior within the dyad: who decides what a couple does? Advances in Population 3, 163188.Google Scholar
Becker, S. (1996) Couples and reproductive health: a review of couple studies. Studies in Family Planning 27, 291306.Google Scholar
Beckman, L. J., Aizenberg, R., Forsythe, A. B. & Day, T. (1983) A theoretical analysis of the antecedents young couples' fertility decisions. Demography 24, 519534.Google Scholar
Blanc, A. K. (2001) The effect of power in sexual relationships on reproductive and sexual health: an examination of the evidence. Studies in Family Planning 32, 189213.Google Scholar
Bralock, A. R. & Loniak-Griffin, D. (2007) Relationship power and other influences on self-protective behaviors of African-American female adolescents. Health Care for Women International 28, 247267.Google Scholar
Brines, J. (1994). Economic dependency, gender, and the division of labor at home. American Journal of Sociology 100, 652689.Google Scholar
Clark, M. P. & Swicegood, G. (1982) Husband or wife? A multivariate analysis of decision making for voluntary sterilization. Journal of Family Issues 3, 341360.Google Scholar
Clark, S. S., Zabin, L. S. & Hardy, J. B. (1988) Sex, contraception and parenthood: experiences and attitudes among urban young Black men. Family Planning Perspectives 16, 7782.Google Scholar
Cohen, D., Dent, C. & Mackinnon, D. (1991) Condom skills education and sexually transmitted disease infection. Journal of Sex Research 28, 139144.Google Scholar
Forste, R. & Morgan, J. (1998) How relationships of U.S. men affect contraceptive use and efforts to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Family Planning Perspectives 30, 5662.Google Scholar
Fullilov, M., Fulilov, R., Haynes, K. & Gross, S. (1990) Black women and AIDS prevention: a view toward understanding the gender roles. Journal of Sex Research 27, 4664.Google Scholar
Gomez, C. A. & Marin, B. V. (1996) Gender, culture and power: barriers to HIV prevention strategies. Journal of Sex Research 33, 355362.Google Scholar
Grady, W. R., Tanfer, K., Billy, J. O. G. & Hanson, J. L. (1996) Men's perceptions about their role in decisions about sex, contraception and childrearing. Family Planning Perspectives 28, 221227.Google Scholar
Greene, M. E. & Biddlecom, A. E. (2000) Absent and problematic men: demographic accounts of male reproductive roles. Population and Development Review 26, 81115.Google Scholar
Harvey, S. M. (2002) Relationship power, sexual decision making and condom use among women at risk of HIV/STDs. Women and Health 36, 6984.Google Scholar
Harvey, S. M. (2004) What makes women feel powerful? An exploratory study of relationship power and sexual decision-making with African Americans at risk of HIV/STDs. Women and Health 39, 118.Google Scholar
Harvey, S. M. (2006) Factors associated with effective contraceptive use among a sample of Latina women. Women and Health 43, 116.Google Scholar
Harvey, S. M., Beckman, L. J., Browner, C. H. & Sherman, C. A. (2002) Relationship power, decision-making, and sexual relations: an exploratory study with couples of Mexican origin. Journal of Sex Research 39, 284291.Google Scholar
Harvey, S. M., Beckman, L. J. & Doty, M. (1999) Couple dynamics in sexual and reproductive decision-making among Mexican immigrants. In Severy, L. J. & Miller, W. (eds) Advances in Population: Psychosocial Perspectives, Vol. 3, pp. 251279. Kingsley Publishers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/London.Google Scholar
Inazu, J. K. (1987) Partner involvement and contraceptive efficacy in premarital sexual relationships. Population and Environment 9, 225237.Google Scholar
King, L. A. & King, D. W. (1997) Sex Role Egalitarianism Scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly 21, 7187.Google Scholar
McFadden, D. (1974) Conditional logit analysis of qualitative choice behavior. In Zarembka, P. (ed.) Frontiers of Econometrics. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
Maddala, G. S. (1983) Limited-Dependent and Qualitative Variables in Econometrics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Marsiglio, W. (1985) Husband's sex role preferences and contraceptive intentions: the case of the male pill. Sex Roles 12, 2231.Google Scholar
Marsiglio, W. & Menaghan, E. G. (1987) Couples and the male birth control pill: a future alternative in contraceptive selection. Journal of Sex Research 56, 278284.Google Scholar
Miller, W. B. & Pasta, D. J. (1995) Behavioral intentions: which ones predict fertility behavior in married couples. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 25, 530555.Google Scholar
Miller, W. B. & Pasta, D. J. (1996a) Couple disagreement: effects of the formation and implementation of fertility decisions. Personal Relationships 3, 307336.Google Scholar
Miller, W. B. & Pasta, D. J. (1996b) The relative influence of husbands and wives on the choice and use of oral contraception, diaphragm, and condoms. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 26(19), 17491774.Google Scholar
Miller, W. B., Shain, R. N. & Pasta, D. J. (1985) A model of the determinants in married women of sterilization method choice. Population and Environment 8, 223239.Google Scholar
Oakley, D., Sereika, S. & Bogue, E. L. (1991) Oral contraceptive pill use after an initial visit to a family planning clinic. Family Planning Perspectives 23, 150154.Google Scholar
Pulerwitz, J., Gortmaker, S. L. & DeJong, W. (2000) Measuring sexual relationship power in HIV/STD research. Sex Roles 42, 637660.Google Scholar
Riehman, K. S., Sly, D. F., Soler, H., Eberstein, I. W., Quadagno, D. & Harrison, D. F. (1998) Dual method use among an ethnically diverse group of women at risk of HIV Infection. Family Planning Perspectives 30, 212217.Google Scholar
Shain, R. N., Miller, W. B. & Holden, A. E. C. (1984) The decision to terminate childbearing: differences in preoperative ambivalence between tubal ligation women, and vasectomy wives. Social Biology 31, 4058.Google Scholar
Sheean, F. L., Ostwald, S. K. & Rothenberger, J. (1986) Perceptions of sexual responsibility: do young men and women agree? Pediatric Nursing 12, 1721.Google Scholar
Thomson, E. (1989) Dyadic models of contraceptive choice. In Brinberg, D. & Jaccard, J. J. (eds) Dyadic Decision Making. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
Thomson, E. (1997) Couple childbearing desires, intentions and births. Demography 34, 343354.Google Scholar
Thomson, E. & Williams, R. (1982) Beyond wives' family sociology: a method for analyzing couple data. Journal of Marriage and the Family 44, 9991008.Google Scholar
Wagstaff, D. A., Kelly, J. A., Perry, M. J., Sikkema, K. J., Solomon, L. J., Heckman, T. G. et al. (1995) Multiple partners, risky partners and HIV risk among low-income urban women. Family Planning Perspectives 27, 241245.Google Scholar
West, C. & Zimmerman, D. (1987) Doing gender. Gender and Society 1, 125151.Google Scholar
Whitley, B. & Schofield, J. W. (1985) A meta-analysis of research on adolescent contraceptive use. Population and Environment 8, 173203.Google Scholar