Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Applied Clinical Project (ACP)

Degree Name

Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Anne H. Rambo

Committee Member

Tommie V. Boyd


Married couples making the decision of whether or not to have a first child may require support while making this life altering decision. Having children may entail a long process of thought, reflection, and discussion between partners (Rijken & Knijn, 2009). The researcher conducted six interviews with married couples to explore their experience of this decision-making process. Findings from this study highlight both the process of decision-making, and the influences that played a role for the participants during the decision-making process. Talking to friends and family that have children; applying faith/religion to decision; creating a pros & cons list; and having children with the right person were four subthemes discovered under the theme of decision-making, not previously noted in the literature. In addition to influences already predicted in the existing literature, pet influence was a factor for the couples interviewed. While participants commonly identified increased meaning in their lives as a gain resulting from the choice to have a child, they also noted significant losses, including feelings of loss that their lives would now revolve more around the children, loss of travel, and possible loss of relationship intimacy. These findings support the need for premarital and marital therapists to assist couples in what is no longer a routine and expected choice for all couples, but one requiring significant discussion (Alden, 2000).