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J Sex Res. 2002 Nov;39(4):284-91.

Relationship power, decision making, and sexual relations: an exploratory study with couples of Mexican origin.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Women in Society, 1201 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1201, USA.


This study explored how couples of Mexican origin define power in intimate relationships, what makes men and women feel powerful in relationships, and the role of each partner in decision making about sexual and reproductive matters. Interviews were conducted with each partner of 39 sexually active couples and data were analyzed using content analysis. Results indicate that power is perceived as control over one s partner and the ability to make decisions. Women say they feel more powerful in relationships when they make unilateral decisions and have economic independence. Men feel powerful when they have control over their partner and bring home money. Respondents agreed that women make decisions about household matters and children, while men make decisions related to money. Findings indicate that whereas couples share decision making about sexual activities and contraceptive use, men are seen as initiators of sexual activity and women are more likely to suggest condom use.

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