My Husband Doesn’t Want to Use Birth Control

by | Jul 24, 2020 | Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 39 comments

When your husband doesn't want to use birth control
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What do you do when you don’t want to get pregnant, but your husband doesn’t want birth control?

We’ve been tackling difficult sex questions all month, and here’s one I tackled a while ago, but I still get asked quite a bit. I thought it was worth re-running. 

A woman asks:

I miscarried in the fall and I don’t feel ready to get pregnant again. My husband agrees and we’ve decided to wait to try again. The issue is that he refuses to wear a condom and doesn’t want me on hormonal birth control or to use an IUD. He wants to use the” pull and pray” method and doesn’t want to use spermicide or anything. As a result I avoid sex. I deny him. Or when we do have sex I’m an emotional wreck afterwards. I don’t want to anxiously wait to see if my cycle actually arrives every month. It is just too much. Our relationship is suffering for it. I don’t know what to do.

That’s a tough one, and my answer isn’t going to focus on whether or not birth control is right or wrong. I know there are couples, both Protestant and Catholic, who feel that birth control is morally wrong. I wrote a birth control series previously, and I do think that certain methods are okay. But regardless of where you fall in this debate, I think these answers will apply to all of us.

Here are some general thoughts, in no particular order:

Before you decide anything–understand how your body’s fertility works

Honestly, you just can’t get pregnant everyday throughout the month. It doesn’t work like that. You can only get pregnant when viable sperm meets your egg when it is also viable, and that’s roughly 3-7 days a month. Now, that may sound like a lot, because if you don’t make love during your period (and most women don’t), then that’s two weeks a month that are off limits if you don’t want to get pregnant AND don’t want to use any birth control. But the fact is that’s also two weeks a month that are NOT off limits!

So get used to tracking your cycle. You can do this by taking your temperature every morning at the same time, using a digital thermometer. Get some free printable charts to track your cycle here. Now many of these sites are trying to help you get pregnant, but the principle is the same. When you know when your fertile times are, you also know when your infertile times are.

Track yourself for a few months, and you’ll get a sense of about how many days after your period starts that you ovulate. Most people are within 11-16 days. Then you just stop sex for two days before that and up to 5 after, although many sites will tell you that you really don’t have to stop for more than 3-4 days. Just read up as much on the subject as you can until you’re comfortable.

What if you don’t ovulate at the same time every month? There are other ways to check–like checking your cervical mucous.

Remember: it is physically impossible to get pregnant when there is no egg present. Get to know your body and trust your body. And many of us can FEEL when we ovulate (I hurt for about 12 hours), so three days later I’d be good to go, too.

The key to feeling relaxed about it is to get as much information as you can and then start charting. Even ask your husband to help you with this! When you know that it’s safe, you’ll feel better about making love on those times.

Now–Do you have to have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant, and he won’t help prevent pregnancy?

I’d like to think through a few principles here.

You bear the most repercussions from getting pregnant

It is your body that will have to carry the baby. It is your body that may miscarry. It is your body that will have to nurse the baby if you do get pregnant.

Yes, the baby would belong to both of you, but the repercussions for getting pregnant fall heavily on the woman. And for that reason, her feelings about getting pregnant need to factor into the birth control discussion.

And you can make a pretty strong case that Scripture tells men that they are to consider their wives’ bodies:

In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 

Ephesians 5:28

A man should be considering his wife’s body in the same way that he considers his own, which means that her desires of what to do about pregnancy should matter to him.

Can you compromise and use nothing on safe days, and condoms in the fertile window?

If you’re both just opposed to hormonal birth control and don’t like condoms, one solution is to use nothing for most of the month, and then use condoms only on your fertile days.

If condoms are out of the question, too, then you have a decision to make. You can say to your husband:

Honey, I do want to have an active sex life with you and I do want to enjoy our intimacy. But I just am not prepared to be pregnant right now, and so I’m going to have say no on these days.

And then maybe you can do other things. After all, not all sex needs to be intercourse. You can bring each other to climax another way, and still enjoy each other’s bodies.

Let’s stop saying, “Let’s leave it up to God.”

Frankly, I think that’s a cop out. And the “pull and pray” method is awfully risky. You can get pregnant with sperm that is released before ejaculation. And I think the “pray” part has rather sketchy doctrine. What you’re really saying is,

God, I want you to do something for me, but I’m not prepared to do anything myself to achieve that goal. I don’t want to be pregnant, but I also don’t want to have to exercise any self-control or bear any consequences of my actions.

So you’re not willing to do any work at all, but you’ll pray that you won’t get pregnant–and then trust God even though you’re not taking the precautions you should? Come on. Let’s be honest about what we’re doing and not spiritualize it.

Talk About Family Size and Timing

You really need to sit down and talk about family size and timing. This is a matter of mutual respect. You can’t say, “we won’t have any more kids”, but simultaneously say “but I’m not willing to do anything about it.” That’s a cop out. If this is the case in your marriage, then having some discussions with him is in order, and if that isn’t getting anywhere, talking to a third party to help you work this out is likely in order, too.

Now, I do think that it’s very problematic, and even unfair, to tell your spouse that you never want kids if they do. That’s a lot to take away from someone. But if it’s a matter of family size or timing, rather than whether to have a family at all, that’s something you need to work through.

What if you’re just disagreeing about birth control? Speak up!

Sometimes guys are morally opposed to hormonal birth control, but hate the thought of using condoms. So they say, “I don’t want to use birth control.”

But just because they don’t want to use it does not mean that you have to risk getting pregnant. Marriage involves two people, and your opinion matters as well, especially because you bear more repercussions. So it’s okay to say:

I want to have a great sex life with you, and I want to enjoy intimacy together. But I am not emotionally or physically in a place where I can handle a pregnancy. So I am not willing to have sex if we’re not using birth control. 

That is not a matter of depriving him of sex; that is a matter of setting clear boundaries. I wrote earlier, too, in my birth control series about how this birth control responsibility needs to be shared, and how this sort of thing cannot always fall on the woman. I hope that we all can think this through better!

If a man is insisting on having sex without birth control, even when you have said you don’t want to get pregnant, that can be reproductive abuse

One form of abuse is men deliberately getting their wife pregnant without their wife’s consent. Using your wife’s body in that way is not mutual and it’s not right. If your husband is insisting on this, and is not listening to your pleas, then please call an abuse hotline or talk to a professional licensed counselor. This also constitutes a form of marital rape.


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Finally, just remember: there are never any guarantees

I don’t mean to be flippant about this, but it’s reality nonetheless.

No matter what you do, remember that you are in God’s hands. I do understand not thinking it’s responsible to have more kids, especially if you already have a bunch, if your health is at risk, if you have special needs kids already that need attention, or if there’s military deployments coming up. There certainly are legitimate reasons to want to limit your family. And sometimes you may honestly just want to be done!

But remember that if you do get pregnant, God will carry you. He will give you the strength and the resources. You are never alone.

All of us need to be content with that, because I don’t think we were ever meant to live with 100% certainty that pregnancy wouldn’t happen.

Now I’d love to know your take on this. Have you ever had this situation? Or perhaps for you it’s the opposite: you want more kids but your husband doesn’t. How did you handle that? Let me know in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

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39 Comments

  1. Sara Saxton

    Wow, what a tough and difficult issue!
    I just wanted to add that fertility awareness method is much more in-depth and nuanced than just tracking your temperature and guessing. As a general rule FAM cannot be done with temperatures alone. Cervical mucus is an extremely important biophysical indicator of fertility (perhaps more so than temperature) and should be tracked alongside temperature. By tracking temperature alone you significantly decrease FAM’s efficacy. Women interested in this method should read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. Other good sources would be Justisse, Sensiplan, and FEMM.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely it is. Yes. I’ve written about it before and suggested some resources, but I think the real issue here is the marriage, which is what I wanted to focus most on. I also think that some people, even if they understand how fertility works, are just not going to be comfortable without contraception and won’t be able to relax, and it sounds like that’s more what she’s like. But yes, I think understanding your fertility can be very helpful in cases like these!

      Reply
      • Ellen

        So sad for her loss. Her husband is obviously hurting too let’s remember that.
        I understand not wanting to use hormonal birth control, and not wanting to use condoms. I personally don’t want either to ever be a part of my marriage.
        We have used the two day method mixed with pull out and it has worked wonderful for us. The first day I find mucus we start pulling out until two days after the last day I see mucus. Some people say pull out doesn’t work, but I think it works just fine.
        I think we need to give the husband some grace here. She’s not ready. And he agreed to wait. But he obviously has some feelings against using things, we don’t know the whole picture. He could have been abused as a child and condoms could be scary for him, he could really feel that hormonal birth control is wrong. It doesn’t sound like he’s being unloving, he’s trying with what he knows how to do. She didn’t say it, but I’m sure he was there comforting her when she was waiting anxiously for her period to come. I too have cried because I was terrified I was pregnant, my husband was right there and loved me so well.
        I hope she realizes that she can trust God to take perfect care of her whether she gets pregnant or not. And you need to work together on this. You don’t want kids right now. Okay. Your husband doesn’t want to use prevention. Okay. So find a way to make it work together. Don’t force your husband to do things that go against his beliefs either. I personally don’t feel comfortable with condoms on a moral level. My husband and I both have to work with each others convictions.

        Reply
      • Dezmae

        Thankyou for posting this! We’ve been going through problems with him wanting to use condoms this past year, and he’ll even refuse if he knows it’s the time to use one. He stopped right before intercourse recently when he didn’t want to wear one and decided to go to bed instead. He’s been pushing for me to go on something even though any meds don’t agree with me, so hopefully we can figure something out. It doesn’t make you want to be intimate with them though when they get upset tho,sadly. :/

        Reply
  2. Joy

    Good info! I recently had this conversation with a friend. Her husband is all for the pull out method. My husband would rather use a condom and be patient. Having these conversations is so important. I highly recommend the book Taking charge of your Fertility. And husbands should know how it all works too. My husband can read a chart. A guy could also get an app that works along side your paper chart.

    Reply
  3. Feelinglost

    This is such a difficult topic. For us with was my wife that didn’t want me to use a condom and she didn’t want to use anything either. I understand her about not using BC.
    It affected her so much even the one that didn’t have any hormones. In the end she didn’t want to use any BC. She is very sensitive. We couldn’t even use regular conforms beacause it gave her rashes. When we started to use non-latex condoms it got better but she didn’t get much pleasure from me using condoms and since she only wants to get orgasms through PIV I didn’t use them much.
    She wanted me to have a vasectomy but I don’t know if it was religious guilt, if it was God or something else but I couldn’t find peace in having one.
    So we tried to pull out method. It worked for three years. But it was a big mistake. We used to have sex until she got her orgasm and then I used to put a condom to finish. But at times we skipped the condom and I just pulled out.
    Well one day I was a little to eager and finished first. Not inside her. I wiped myself and everything and we continued and it seems like some sperm was left and now she is pregnant. What we didn’t want to happen, happened. We were dumb and foolish. We thought that it wouldn’t happen to us.
    I know I should feel happy but I can’t say I am. This wasn’t the right time. This wasn’t what we wanted. We can barely get through with two kids. My wife is studying and pregnancies affect her so much. I am glad I am on vacation now and can take care of everything so she can rest when she comes home from work, but when I start working it will be more difficult.
    Also financially I am so scared. My wife put us in debt twice because of her shopping addiction and has yet again gotten us in a lot of debt. We were denied to buy a house because of this. I don’t know how we are going to make it through this. And I hate not knowing what to answer when people ask why we don’t buy a house. I can’t really throw my wife under the bus saying that she spent so much that we will have to pay for 6 years to get rid of a debt that was totally unnecessary.
    And with my struggles recovering from porn addiction, with lack of desire for my wife and fear that there wasn’t true love before marriage I can’t see any worse situation for a kid to be born. I always told myself that I would never be like other couples who decide to have a kid when they start to drift apart.
    I know I shouldn’t complain but it’s tough to see how all of this is going to work.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Those are really big problems. They are. I’m so sorry. I’d say work as much as you can on your friendship and having fun together and laughing together. That’s really #1. Then you can address the rest. (Assuming the spending is under control–if that isn’t, then you do need to do something right away so that it doesn’t take off again!). You’ll get through it with the new baby! You will. It seems like a lot, but one day at a time. And many people make do without a house. It’s not ideal, but make the best life you can now instead of thinking about what could be.

      Reply
    • E

      Try your best to look forward to the baby. It’s coming one way or the other. And I know it’s the least of your worries, but it’s no ones business if you don’t buy a home. We don’t have a home. It works for our situation. We are looking into buying now, but there is no shame in renting and may make a lot of sense in a lot of cases.

      Reply
      • feelinglost

        Thanks. Yeah , I try to come up with excuses when people ask or start recommending houses. Our apartment is small and in our town there arent many that are bigger unless we want to live in the bad neighberhood and we dont want that. We fear for our daughters there so its hard to explain to people why we cant. I feel a lot of shame for what my wife did. I feel responsible for not being firmer altough she knew I was against her spending. Its difficult to not feel stressed when we were denied the possibility to buy a house because of the debt. Some months we barely get by and cant even save. Its so embarrassing but I cant tell anyone. And now we are going to have a kid ?Its tough but I must trust that the Lord will provide.

        Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Good grief people need to mind their own business.
      If someone asks why you don’t want to buy a home, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that it doesn’t work for your family right now. Houses come with maintenance, random costs that you cannot anticipate, insurance, and deductibles in case of disaster. The fact that renting is a fixed monthly cost makes it a very financially reasonable decision. Moreover, people wildly underestimate how much money they lose on a house. Yes, it’s an asset, but you pay so much interest that you basically buy it twice.
      And do people not remember 2008? That was not that long ago and was a complete mess.
      Sorry, it irks me how people see married adults having kids and immediately assume that it’s time to spend, spend, spend. Gonna upgrade the car, ‘cuz you can’t drive your baby in a sedan, right? Gonna buy a house because you need four bedrooms for a married couple and a baby, right? Gonna buy all the baby stuff because only the best, right?

      Reply
      • feelinglost

        Hehe, yeah, its kind of expected where we live so I understand why people ask. Its difficult when people start to recommend houses. I have to find excuses to why we havent bought a house yet. In our cases because we dont have a big apartment it doesnt make sense to live in this apartment. And specially with a third kid on the way. So people off course only want to help but its hard to explain why. I have had to keep my mouth shut because I have been close to just say it but I dont want to hurt my wife.
        I think the hardest part is not being able to explain to our daughters that we can have a house. Since its pretty common to have a house most of her classmates have one. She struggles to have friends and it hurts to know that even if she would invite someone they wouldnt be able to play here. My dear daughter even prays to God for a house. It hurts my heart and makes me kind of angry that my wife wasted all of that money, thousands of dollars on unnecessary things. But there isnt anything I can do. I cant hold this against her. She says she is going to stop shopping now that she is pregnant but she has amounted more debt these last months. I dont know what to say anymore. I just hope she will change.

        Reply
        • Jane Eyre

          I’m not a counselor so I can’t help you with this, but I am praying for you.
          My best suggestion is that you and your wife remove both the opportunity and the motivation to waste money. Often, people will spend money to fill an emotional hole. Fill the hole properly and you see less of this issue. The opportunity aspect is simple: access to money. A low-limit credit card may give her some autonomy without the ability to drive you into debt.
          As for the house, you need to learn to shut this stuff down. The moment I had a ring on my finger, every busybody in the world started having an opinion on my life, from where I should live, what car I should drive, what job I should have, and how many pets I should own. If your friends are suggesting houses, they are way too invested in your life. Shut. It. Down. It actually doesn’t matter that you want to make a different decision and privately agree with them. Shut it down. Marital decision-making is not up for third party review and appeal.
          I’ve made some decisions for my husband’s good or my child’s good that my friends know isn’t exactly in my own, personal, individual best interests, but that does not mean it’s up for discussion. If you want to be involved in the inner workings of my marriage, you needed to be the guy on the right side of the altar on my wedding day who put a ring on my finger.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Way to go, Jane! Absolutely agree. Shut. It. Down.

  4. Amanda

    I am Catholic so of course I do not believe in either hormonal birth control or condoms. I’m glad you mention Natural Family Planning. But what you’re describing is the rhythm method, and it’s why NFP gets a bad name. There are highly scientific methods of avoiding – look into Creighton, Marquette, or symto thermal method.
    Fertility should be an ongoing conversation between spouses, and we should always remember God means us to use our bodies as a gift.

    Reply
    • E

      Sorry, but out of my ignorance, why do Catholics not believe in those things? Thanks.

      Reply
      • unmowngrass

        Because the primary purpose of sex — and therefore marriage — is procreation? And also denying your spouse access to your fertility is denying them access to part of yourself and therefore it’s not a full union? Or just because fertility ought to be entirely in God’s hands?
        These are just tidbits I have picked up from conversation over the years, but it’s a starting point. I am interested to hear any further reasoning from any Catholics.

        Reply
      • A Catholic

        “The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.” (CCC, #2363)
        http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2363.htm
        Catholic doctrine teaches that licit means of avoiding pregnancy place no barriers to the unitive and procreative ends of each act of intercourse. Thus it is permitted to abstain during the fertile periods of a woman’s cycle to avoid pregnancy for “well-grounded reasons” (and have sex during the infertile periods), but it is not permissible to use hormonal birth control or condoms.
        For further explanation, I’d recommend the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (especially Paragraph 16, titled “Recourse to Infertile Periods”). It’s short and freely available from the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html.

        Reply
        • Active Mom

          I do want to chime in that sometimes the Catholic Church makes exceptions. My grandparents were both faithful Catholics. She had 4 births one set of twins but multiple miscarriages. After her last pregnancy the doctor told her that if she got pregnant again it would kill her. They spoke with the priests and were granted an exception to birth control due to the fact that her life was at risk if another pregnancy occurred. So, while the Catholic Church holds firm on its stance of birth control they do offer grace and exceptions. They just can’t be for flimsy reasons. Sorry just my 2 cents. I didn’t want the Catholic Church to come off as hard and lacking grace. 🙂

          Reply
  5. Wifeofasexaddict

    That husband is being abusive. It is not his unilateral decision what kind of birth control she uses. She should decide with his input. He is being selfish and thoughtless. She needs support to cope with the grief of miscarriage and the fears associated with becoming pregnant again. It’s understandable why men would have a hard time understanding this, but it is not excusable. Especially not to remain in that malignantly ignorant state.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree he’s being selfish and thoughtless here, and I also agree that in cases like these, it could be abusive. It really isn’t healthy, and I hope that she sees that and gets some help.

      Reply
    • Ellen

      We don’t know that he’s being selfish. Personally my husband thinks hormonal birth control is wrong. Personally I’m not morally comfortable with condoms. We also don’t know if he was abused and that’s why he’s against condoms. There’s so many factors. I wouldn’t say he’s being selfish. If my husband insisted on using BC against my beliefs I would feel very hurt, and I wouldn’t want anything to do with him. Let’s show some grace to both of them.

      Reply
      • wifeofasexaddict

        From what is shared in the letter, he is ignoring her VERY VALID fears and concerns and forcing his convictions, if that is what they are, on her. That is selfish. He may have any number of valid reasons for a belief on birth control. But he is still selfish because he is ignoring his wife’s desires and fears. I’ve approached this issue from just about every side. I get all the sides. He’s selfish.

        Reply
  6. unmowngrass

    I think the fertility window is bigger than you’re saying. And to talk about this we need to talk a bit more about sperms.
    We’re generally told that sperms live for 3-7 days inside a woman’s body, which is true, but it’s not the whole story. The boy sperms and girl sperms behave differently. The boy sperms shoot out like a bullet but burn up quickly, within 3-4 days. And the girl sperms come out a bit slower/swim a bit slower but can live for 5-7 days. If you want a boy then hold off before ovulation but go great guns on ovulation day. If you want a girl have lots of sex 4-7 days prior to ovulation so the sperm is right there to meet the egg when it comes out, but the boy sperms will have had chance to die off, and then hold off for a day or two after so that any new boy sperms won’t get there until the pre-existing girl sperms have already had chance to fertilise the egg.
    So the fertility window is upto 7 days before ovulation, because there could still be a girl-sperm waiting, right the way through to however long the egg itself is alive for when it may meet a fresh boy-sperm. Which would add up to ten or twelve days, right? Because the egg starts declining in quality after 36hrs or so, but it stays alive for several days, right?
    And all of this is why there is a big difference between the window for “the goal is ‘let’s have a baby'” and “the goal is ‘let’s not have a baby'”. In the latter a smaller chance is worth taking note of but in the former it’s not really relevant.

    Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      The egg is only good for 12-24 hours. The issue is that sperm lives for five days in fertile cervical mucus and ovulation can vary by several days.

      Reply
      • Ina

        Yes. Saying that there are only 3-5 days you can get pregnant in a cycle is true but misleading. If you really want to prevent children you should use protection from the end of your period until you know you have ovulated because random early ovulation is actually very common (ask me how I know… 3 kids in 3 years but only 1 was planned and my cycles tended to be pretty predictsble!) NFP can definitively work but it is not as simple as people often claim. For one thing, if you don’t sleep well your temperature is going to be garbage and not indicate anything relating to your fertility.

        Reply
        • Jane Eyre

          I used NFP very successfully to achieve and avoid pregnancy.
          Did you take a class in it? I didn’t, but I read way too much of the science and the various reasons behind the rules. You’re supposed to use it for at least three months while being abstinent because even if your “cycle” is regular (by which people usually mean “days between menses”), your ovulation patterns can change from cycle to cycle with no change to the length of your cycle. Other women will consistently get their period a set number of days after they ovulate.
          If you do not ovulate on a regular schedule, you’re supposed to avoid intercourse for five or six days before the earliest day upon which you ovulated in the last six months. So if you’ve ovulated anywhere between day 10 and day 14, you don’t have sex from day 5 until post-ovulation.
          Fertile cervical mucus is also important. If there is fertile mucus, even a little bit, you’re not supposed to have sex. Sperm cannot live more than a few hours without cervical mucus.
          This is also important for achieving pregnancy. If there’s no fertile mucus, you can have lots of sex and not get pregnant. If you “know when you ovulate” and then have sex, the egg is not good by the time the sperm reach it.

          Reply
          • Ina

            Didn’t take a class but read “Taking Charge of your Fertility” book and used several different apps. Did the whole method mucus and temp and all. To be fair, it worked well for us before we had our first. The problem was likely that postpartum craziness really made my body act weird afterwards . But I know too many people who also knew what they were doing get surprised by early ovulation that they didn’t catch. Even for some of us, cervical fluid can be hard to read. When NFP works, it works great, but our bodies throw some pretty wild curveballs.

  7. Nathan

    I don’t want to get into the right/wrong debate either, but his decision is causing her emotional distress, and they need to work out a plan where both are happy.

    Reply
  8. Doug Hoyle

    I really had to sit back and consider if I really wanted to respond to this post. I had a somewhat visceral reaction to it, and I needed to examine why. In the final analysis, it really hits close to home, but not for the reasons one might assume. I’m not even sure I can pinpoint precisely how it hit me. It is all ancient history now, and still can be as raw as if it were yesterday.
    The first thing that struck me was her feelings following the miscarriage. It isn’t anything I experienced personally, but I lost an unborn child to an abortion that was done without my knowledge. Losing a child is hard under any circumstances, so I grieve for the woman. I am going to bring up something here that nobody even mentioned. As a matter of fact, some went so far as to dismiss it’s importance altogether. Some of your remarks were hurtful and dismissive of the fathers loss at all. “She needs support to cope with the grief of miscarriage and the fears associated with becoming pregnant again. It’s understandable why men would have a hard time understanding this, but it is not excusable. Especially not to remain in that malignantly ignorant state.”
    I don’t disagree with that statement, but it totally ignores that the father lost a child as well. Everyone deals with it differently. I think it is quite likely that the mans reaction and reluctance to using birth control is that he is likely subconsciously trying to “replace” the lost child. That isn’t a crazy theory. It has been pretty well documented in the cases of both men and women who have lost children to abortion. It may not seem rational, and probably isn’t, but which of us is always rational when dealing with our hurts and fears. I have talked to many men who have lost children, most thru abortion, and more than a few thru miscarriages. They do not carry their grief and scars the same that women do, but it is there. Statements like what I just quoted above insinuate that they didn’t really lose anything, so they should just shut up and go on with life. Statements like that deny them the right to grieve. I didn’t even know how to grieve for my own child because society told me I hadn’t lost anything, and even if I had, it was her body so it was her choice.
    I will step off of my soapbox right now, and say that this couple needs to talk A LOT, not just about birth control right now, but family planning in general. My wife and I never had those conversations, so ultimately she got to decide everything. She was vehement that we would have one child, and that was it. I didn’t push back. Not quite 10 years ago, she had a hysterectomy, and whatever she felt about it, it was one of the hardest days of my life. The doorway to more children had long been closed, but that signified that it was bricked up and sealed forever. .It was a medical necessity, so of course I wasn’t opposed to it, Now, nearing 60, I look jealously at those with several children and grandchildren, and I am somewhat fearful of a lonely future should my wife pass before me. I accept it, but I didn’t get to choose either.
    None of that really is intended to take away from this post. It is an important subject, and one that can make or break a marriage if one person is making choices and expecting the other spouse to go along. It doesn’t matter if that is the husband, or the wife.
    I do take exception to the inferences that the husband is being abusive. He is obviously not thinking of his wife, but as I pointed out, he may well be behaving irrationally out of his own loss and grief, and he should probably have some help as well finding his way thru it, just as the wife should.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Doug, I am sincerely sorry for your loss.
      Reproductive abuse is real, and it is quite common. It would be irresponsible of me not to mention it, because many women reading this blog will be experiencing it.

      Reply
    • wifeofasexaddict

      Doug, you quoted my words, so I wan to answer.
      I, too, am very sorry for your loss. It makes complete sense to me. I said what I said, because I have had 4-5 miscarriages, and every time my husband could not grieve with me. I begged him to understand. I desperately wanted him to join me in grief. His only response was, it wasn’t inside me. It’s not as real to me as it was to you. He just couldn’t understand. Now, there are many underlying reasons behind my husband’s callousness to me and inability to join me in grieving our lost children. And I thought the husband in the article might have some of the same issues.
      Again, I’m very sorry for your loss. I know many men grieve pregnancy loss right along with their partners. But not all do. Childbearing is a very hard conversation to have, as there are so many ways people can be hurt by it. But I really do think that childbearing decisions need to err toward the woman’s needs, since she bears far more of the consequences of pregnancy, and often childrearing too.
      Best wishes.

      Reply
      • Doug Hoyle

        wifeofasexaddict,
        I didn’t quote you to single you out, but to point out that men and women do not deal with things the same way, but they still deal with the same things. Your comment on your husbands response to the miscarriages bears that out so some degree. As you pointed out, there are a lot of ways the subject can get complicated, for men and women. One of the hardest things I have had to deal with where the abortion was concerned, was that I was helpless to do anything about it. On the opposite side of that coin, in some ways, I was probably relieved. There are a lot of conflicting emotions attached to that dichotomy, and none of them are good.
        Another source of guilt is that I couldn’t grieve then, probably for many of the reasons your husband held. Denial of the loss, guilt for not preventing it, anger, and more other conflicting emotions than I can describe.
        I lost my mother a couple of years ago, and I still haven’t grieved her completely. I got angry at the doctor, tho he didn’t really do anything wrong. His biggest crime was that he had a terrible bedside manner. Anger was easier than anything else I might have felt, so I latched onto it.
        Don’t assume that because your husband didn’t grieve with you that he didn’t grieve. It wouldn’t look like yours, and could easily be mistaken for something else, even indifference.

        Reply
  9. Jane Eyre

    This is not a unilateral decision. Insane.
    She can look into spermicides and foams. The reliability is low, but is better than “pull and pray.”
    I wouldn’t recommend NFP here because it takes several months to learn the symptoms and patterns of ovulation. At least, they need a plan between now and October. Moreover, a man that insensitive to her needs is not likely to sacrifice sex, especially when she’s fertile. (Men can sense fertility and are more sexually driven then.) NFP only works if you have a husband who is completely on board with the method, which is a lot more than “great, sex without condoms.”
    Ultimately, not getting pregnant requires self-control and diligence. You abstain, use contraception each and every time, or abstain during fertile periods. Maybe she should ask her husband his preferred method of self-control and diligence.

    Reply
    • Elsie

      One method of natural family planning that is pretty effective is called the standard days method. A woman has to meet certain criteria to use it but it is simple to follow. Natural family planning methods require a strong commitment from both partners.

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        Standard Days is effective because it’s only for women whose cycles are regular and between 26 and 32 days long. It also requires a couple to not have sex for 12 days, not counting the time a woman is having her period and doesn’t want to have sex.
        Sympto-thermal reduces that to about five or six days.

        Reply
  10. Mom of 2

    I’m also going to mention that Fertility Awareness Method and NFP are more specific than what you mentioned here….FAM has been amazing for our marriage and has taken all the stress out of “birth control/contraception.” Sheila, if you haven’t heard yet…maybe look into and familiarize yourself with tempdrop. Tempdrop.com it’s a relatively new femtech product which has revolutionized the basal body temping world!
    Thanks for covering so many topics.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Posting in a bit of a passion here so hopefully it makes sense. My husband and I both enjoy having intercourse. We have three children and I’ve had one 2nd trimester miscarriage. My pregnancies are very stressful and require some awkward interventions on my part. I’m also prescribed “pelvic rest” which is a euphemism for no vaginal penetration. My husband is on some medications that affect his libido and also pleasure during sex.
    Neither of us want more children. I don’t think either of us want me on a hormonal birth control and he does not want a vasectomy. We are morally fine with condoms but it really interferes with his enjoyment of sex to the point that he won’t be able to have an orgasm.
    Here is the conundrum. I most want to have sex during the days that I could become pregnant. I’ve been keeping track of my fertility for years and know when that is.
    I don’t want to ask him to have intercourse and wear a condom if he’s not going to enjoy it. I also feel like I’m being cheated a bit because these are the days when I most want to have intercourse. Usually what will happen is, I’ll say we need to use a condom if we dont want me to get pregnant, then things will get heated and we will use the pull out method. Then I’ll spend the next 2-3 weeks wondering if I’m going to get pregnant and being angry about the whole situation. He sometimes jokes that “he’s not a condoms guy” to which I say, “then I guess you’re a dad guy”. Honestly, he may even become “not an intercourse guy” because I could get pregnant and it would be off limits. Of course the joke is that no one would be a condoms guy if there weren’t good reason for it.
    These are things we can discuss it’s just tough because there is so much wrapped into it.
    Lest folks get the impression that he is a super selfish person in the area of sex let me assure you he is not. We have never had issues of porn, any hint of infidelity, or pressuring to have sex. Even during the, 2, 6mo stretch’s where sexual intercourse was off the table for us (take that 72hr cycle!). He cares about my pleasure and mental health. I just don’t know how to get through this one.

    Reply

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