The Relative Influence of Husbands and Wives on the Choice and Use of Oral Contraception, a Diaphragm, and Condoms1


  • 1

    This research was supported by Grant R 01 HD23900 from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Warren B. Miller, Director, Transnational Family Research Institute, 355 West Olive Avenue, Suite 207, Sunnyvale, CA 94086–7660.


Little empirical research has tested the traditional assumption that contraceptive behavior in the U.S. lies principally within the wife's sphere of influence. We use a decision-making framework and data collected from 401 married couples to examine the relative influence of husbands and wives over the decisions to discontinue a current contraceptive method and then to select a new one and the decisions that govern regularity of use of an already chosen method. We focus on the specific methods of oral contraception, a diaphragm, and condoms, examining their similarities and differences according to the gender of the user. The results indicate that spouse influence varies according to the type of contraceptive decision being made and the specific method of contraception being used or chosen.