A recent study by Cambridge journal of Biosocial Science has revealed that family making decisions are better handled when the couple has had premarital communication regarding family planning and other such matters.
The study, which was published in the latest edition of Journal of Biosocial Science, emphasised the need to encourage couples to interact before marriage, so that they can make collective decisions on contraception use and/or number of children they want to have.
It aimed to study the family planning decisions and the gender-based dominance regarding pre-and post-marital communications. “This study used the data from the India Human Development Survey-II (2011–12), and was based on a sample of 31,276 currently married women,” the study quoted.
The study proved that women, who knew their husbands before marriage or have had any communication related to procreation or went through premarital counselling, secured better chance of being actively involved in the decision making.
Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, explained that a lot of this has to do with the bonding between the couple as well as the belief system of the people involved. He said, “Belief system and reasoning is very important when it comes to matters such as family planning. Bonding and power equation between the couple is also very important.”
The study further said that these decisions were male-driven in general, “Wives who knew their husbands for more than a month before marriage took more decisions on number of children (27%) than those who only knew their husbands from the day of their wedding (20%).”
Dr Shetty added, “However, we can’t negate the reasoning for such decisions. If the partner sees the reason for the decision as rational, it will be given more consideration.”
Premarital counselling in India isn’t a very old concept; however, it has gained momentum in the past few years. The goal of premarital counselling is to identify the potential issues of compatibility among the couple and averting them. “Premarital counselling in general is only gaining awareness in India now. There is a lot of stigma attached to it,” said a practising psychologist from Mumbai, who doesn’t want to be named.
“Communication between couples before marriages on important issues like children, finances etc. are very important as it helps clear expectations and allows your partner to know what to look forward too. A clear discussion on everything like contraception will allow partners to respect the comfort of each other as each one has a right to the way his or her body should be treated,” added the psychologist.
Dr Kamakshi Bhate, professor of department of Preventive and Social Medicine, KEM Hospital said information on contraception is must in adolescent age group. “Both girls and boys in adolescent age should know about contraception so that in future they can make a well-informed decision. It will also reduce misconceptions related to contraceptives,” said Bhate.
She added that family planning should be a joint responsibility of both husband and wife. “With no information on the contraception methods, lack of communication, generally women are held responsible for contraception. With awareness, tension between couples on unwanted pregnancies can be reduced too,” said Bhate.