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Research into how couples negotiate their individual desires to have children

22 July 2021

Billie de Haas has been awarded a small grant of 10,000 euros from knowledge platform Share-Net International to conduct research into the decision-making processes of couples regarding having children .

Billie: "The idea of interviewing couples for this project arose during my research into school-based sex education in Uganda. Two of the teachers I interviewed are a couple and each of them reflected on different aspects of their relationship. I realized that partners can have very different interpretations of the same events in their relationship and that communication is very important. In Uganda it is not common for couples to communicate about whether or not to have children. Culturally, having children is seen as self-evident and a decision of the man. Traditionally, the perception was often: the more children, the better. These ideas are changing nowadays, especially for those with a higher educational level."

Due to the pandemic, doing research in Uganda is not yet possible. Because Billie prefers to interview people face-to-face, she will focus on the Netherlands first. In fertility research, little attention is usually paid to the dynamics within couples, the focus is more often on individual desires. How can you ensure that people have the number of children they want? Power dynamics in a relationship are important for understanding how many children are born, and when. Gender inequality is often mentioned as a reason, but also other power dimensions can arise in relationship. Due to differences in age, income and culture, for example, and also contraceptive use plays a role. To what extent has the decision-making process been discussed out loud?

Interviewing couples provides different information than conducting individual interviews. By observing the dynamics of the couple during the interview, Billie wants to better understand how these dynamics play a role in the decision whether to have children. The study results will be discussed in a focus group with relationship therapists, and then sexologist Sanderijn van der Doef will convert the findings into an online tool that can support couples with their reproductive decision-making process. The first results of the study are expected in early 2022.

Last modified:23 July 2021 12.37 p.m.
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