Journal Article

Association of traditional marital practices with contraceptive decision-making, couple communication, and method use among couples in rural Maharashtra, India

In India, traditional social practices around marriage, such as non-involvement of prospective brides in choice of partner and timing of marriage, child/early marriage, dowry and purdah, compromise women’s agency at the time of marriage and may also affect contraceptive practices in marriage. This paper examines the associations between traditional marital practices and contraceptive behaviours, including women’s control over contraceptive decision-making, couples’ communication about contraception, and ever use of contraceptives, among married women aged 18–29 years (N = 1,200) and their husbands in rural Maharashtra, India. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine the association between these marginalising social practices and family planning behavioural outcomes, adjusting for demographic and parity confounders. Wives who were the primary decision-makers on who to marry had higher odds of ever having communicated with their husband on pregnancy prevention (AOR 1.76, 95% CI 1.16-2.68), and ever using modern contraceptives (AOR 2.19, 95% CI 1.52-3.16). Wives who were the primary decision-makers on when to marry also had higher odds of ever having used modern contraceptives (AOR 1.86, 95% CI 1.21-2.93). Women’s involvement in marital choice may facilitate couples’ engagement related to family planning, possibly via the establishment of better communication between partners.