Conflict: Using Birth Control When You Want Kids

Are the new abortion restrictions being passed in some U.S. states relevant for us here at Childless by Marriage? As you probably know, Texas recently passed a law prohibiting abortion, for any reason, after the sixth week of pregnancy, about the time a heartbeat can be detected. At that point, many women don’t even know they are pregnant. Even if they do, by the time they make arrangements, it may be beyond the six weeks. In practical terms, most abortions are therefore illegal. At the moment, the Texas ban has been blocked while it goes through court challenges, but there does seem to be a trend toward more restrictive abortion laws.

I’m not going to argue pro-life vs. pro-choice here. I’m Catholic; you can guess how I feel, but I also realize that many women are going to seek abortions no matter what the law says, so why not make it safe for them to do it?

What does this have to do with being childless by marriage?

While researching my Childless by Marriage book, I discovered that far more women had had abortions than I ever suspected. For some, the abortion ended their only chance at motherhood; later circumstances kept them from having children. Some had abortions because their partners insisted that they did not want them to have a baby, at least not then.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 189 abortions per 1,000 live births and 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. More than half of those women are in their 20s, and most of those abortions are performed at around the 13th week of pregnancy.

Abortion is sometimes used as a method of birth control for those willing to take a chance that they will not get pregnant and that they can abort if they do. Now the women in Texas and other states where regulations are being tightened to the point of prohibiting most abortions may be feeling there is no way out.

Most of us have used other forms of birth control, including contraceptive pills and patches, IUDs, diaphragms, and condoms. These methods require at least one partner to take responsibility. Ideally, they should both agree that they want to use birth control. Diaphragms and condoms require the cooperation of both parties. The pill and the IUD may have negative effects on the woman’s health. They can also be discontinued without the male partner knowing. How many of us whose partners have been hesitant to make babies have been told by well-meaning friends or relatives to just stop taking the pill and have an “oops” baby? Most of us, I’ll bet.

We’re far from the days when our ancestors could only prevent pregnancy by giving up sex, but it can still be a touchy situation, especially when we want to have children and know that pill we’re taking every morning or that condom we’re using every time we have sex is making it impossible.

So I ask you:

1. How do you feel about conservative politicians eliminating abortion as a birth control method? Does that have anything to do with your situation?

2. If you’re using birth control, how do you feel about it? Do resent that pill, hate that condom? Does your partner insist you use them or just assume that it’s “take care of”? Are you able to discuss it freely with them?

Please share in the comments. You can be completely anonymous. This blog does not work without your input.

Thank you all for being here.

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Reader Caught in Childless by Marriage Dilemma

   

Readers,

I received this email from “Kristin” over the weekend. At her request, I am sharing it with you. What do you think? What would you do?–Sue

My husband and I have been married about eight months, but were together nearly eight years before we were married. To fully tell this story, I feel like I have to go back in history a little because a portion of our eight-year relationship we spent apart. That breakup was because I was sure I DID want kids and he was (and always has been) sure he did NOT. To be honest, I can’t really say how we came back together, other than we did.

He is my very best friend. I think when we got back together and decided to get married a few years later it was because I genuinely thought I could compromise. I knew he didn’t want kids, and several more years had passed where I’d seen one sibling suffer through a stillbirth and another’s infertility leading to divorce. I rationalized that both of these things were just more examples that you shouldn’t choose a mate based on a desire to have children because “there are no guarantees” in life. I wanted to marry someone because I loved him and didn’t depend on all the “extras” in life.

What I could not have predicted was that by loving someone, building a life with him, and experiencing an even deeper love in this commitment than I had before, I developed a stronger desire to have a child. All of this became very apparent when he scheduled an appointment to have a vasectomy. I felt fine with it until, I didn’t. It hit like the worst wave of depression and devastation I’ve ever felt. We talked about it, and he agreed to cancel the appointment, but ever since then, it has been brewing just under the surface. He doesn’t say it directly, but he alludes to me trying to trap him into pregnancy, frequently saying we are “playing with fire.”

I should add that we have been pregnant once—more of a chemical pregnancy than anything—enough to be positive on a pregnancy test, and then I got my period. It was actually just before we were married and was one of the worst fights we’ve ever had. I know you could say I “shouldn’t have married him” if I knew that, but it didn’t change the fact that I love him. Even the antagonistic child-hating part of him. I can’t lie and say some part of me didn’t subconsciously think that time or a miracle from the Lord would change his mind. I think I also sort of have a false hope because he didn’t go through with the vasectomy yet. Like, he loved me enough to compromise on delaying it and then more false hope came about.

Today we are arguing again—and I am depressed, again. He will list all of the logical reasons why he doesn’t and has not ever wanted a child, and I will fail to articulate my emotions—because that’s all I can say it is now, a feeling. What I guess I wonder is: Will this pass? Is my love for my spouse enough to carry me, to carry us through this “fear of missing out” and whatever else may be rolled up into my desire to have a child right now? I am thankful for the solidarity of knowing that other people experience this, too, but it feels so painful that this is undeniably such a divisive thing. I don’t know how I won’t resent him at some point if I continue to feel this way, and yet a life without him isn’t something I want either. 

HELP

–Kristin 

Well, this is the crux of our “childless by marriage” problem. She wants kids; he does not. She loves him, he loves her, but neither is likely to change their mind. What do they do now? I know many of you have been there, done that. Me too, but my situation was different because Fred was older, a father of three, and he’d already had the vasectomy. I stayed with him, and I’m not sorry. But what advice do you have for Kristin?

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Do you want to tell your story at the Childless by Marriage blog? I’m looking for personal stories, 500-750 words long, that fit our childless-by-marriage theme. You could write about infertility, second marriages, partners who don’t want children, stepchildren, feeling left out when everyone around you has kids, fear of being childless in old age, birth control, and other related issues. Tell us how you how you came to be childless “by marriage” and how it has affected your life. Or you could write about someone else. We love stories about successful childless women. We do not want to hear about your lovely relationship with your children or how happy you are to be childfree. Not all submissions will be accepted, and all are subject to editing. If interested, email me at sufalick@gmail.com.

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After more than 700 posts and with a new best-of-the-blog book coming, I am making some changes. I am using a new “header” image, but having troubles with it. The glitches will be fixed ASAP. Meanwhile, stay tuned.