HOW CAN I PERSUADE MY HUSBAND NOT TO HAVE A VASECTOMY?
Dear Fr. Matthew,
I am a practicing Catholic; my husband is not currently affiliated with any religion. We have been married for 13 years, and have three children. Our youngest child is six years old, and we have used NFP successfully for those six years. Even though my husband is not Catholic, he has supported my decision to use NFP when we made the decision together to not have any more children -- until now. My cycle is very irregular, and sometimes we have to abstain for a couple weeks, because of uncertainty of fertility. My husband is becoming agitated, and I try to explain why this method is the only one we can use. But he argues that it’s a give and take relationship; that he has done it “your way” for our entire marriage so far. Now he wants me to do it “my way,” which he is suggesting should be a vasectomy for him.
I have protested, but he says he is not Catholic and doesn’t have to follow the same rules I have. We have a great marriage, and usually can openly discuss anything, but I am at a loss as to what I should do. I need someone to help me. I can’t forbid him to get a vasectomy, because I am so afraid it will harm our marriage. But on the other hand, if he gets one, the guilt I will have over it will harm me. I do know that we don’t want any more children, and we have valid reasons for making that decision. May husband is 34 and I am 31, so we still have quite a few years of fertility left in us.
I am so confused. I want to be a good Catholic, and follow every teaching of my church. My faith has never been an obstacle in our relationship before. Our children are being raised Catholic, and my husband is usually so supportive of anything I do regarding my faith. Please help me. CF
I commend you for your strong faith. You instinctively realize that something is wrong with sterilization. You also must have a good marriage, and three beautiful children. And your husband is a vital part of this.
God has a plan for human life, spousal love, marriage and family. It is His plan, not yours, not mine, and not your husband’s. The Ten Commandments are not just for Catholics, nor is the moral wrongness of contraception and sterilization meant only for Catholics. If you are a member of the human race, then they apply to you.
The question is: “What is wrong with sterilization, especially when so many people are doing it?” There are many things wrong with it. First of all, God is the author of all life. We are only stewards of the gifts of life and fertility, not masters. God wants us to be open towards, and to treasure, the gift of life, and never turn against it as something evil. Secondly, we are not to mutilate our bodies, or interfere with the integrity of our bodies, especially those sacred faculties that can procreate a new human person. These are serious violations of the 5th Commandment.
I think you would find it helpful to read the stories of couples who have been sterilized, realized the wrong they did, and then decided to have a reversal. I suggest that you read Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love – 20 Couples Tell Their Story. You can order it from One More Soul (www.OMSoul.com).
I am sending you an audio CD by the Mortons on this topic. Be sure to listen to it. They tell their story in a deeply human way.
You need to read up on the immorality of sterilization.
1) Go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and see #2297, 2398, and 2399. 2) Go to www.OMSoul.com, which has a great selection of materials on contraception, sterilization and NFP. Purchase their pamphlets on Tubal Ligations and Sterilization. 3) Get their booklet “Recent Statements of Popes on Sterilization.”
I can assure you that you and your husband will be called upon by other couples in the future to explain what you are now discovering for yourself.
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
To contact Fr. Matthew with a question on NFP, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org