Question 104


Please help me. I have an agnostic husband who wants to get sterilized. I am beside myself over this. Right now our marriage is in good shape. We have eight children, some of which are adopted. They are all beautiful children. My husband is a good provider. But he is terrified of the possibility of having another child to care for. He doesn’t trust NFP. What can I do to dissuade him from having a vasectomy? I know that this is against God’s plan for us, and that it will have many bad consequences.                                                                     Help!      

Dear Help, 
First of all you need to be very thankful for the blessings of a good marriage and eight wonderful children. You have a very rich marriage and family life. You and your children will learn much about love, generosity, commitment to one another and how to appreciate diverse personalities. Help your husband to count his blessings too. 

Regarding the vasectomy: you have no right to give him permission to do this. If you do give your permission, then you share in the evil deed as an accomplice.

If he does this on his own, despite your disapproval, then there is not much you can do to stop him. He has free will also, and wants to abuse it by turning against the goodness of his God-given fertility. 

Here is what I recommend: Tell him that you are not going to have relationships with him if he does that because he is not open to life and open to the way God instituted that act of love. And if he wants to live that way, that’s fine, but you need to put your foot down with him. 

The two of you need to take a thorough course in NFP. When learned well, and practiced correctly, NFP is 99% effective. If you come to the decision that you cannot support another child, then the thing for the two of you to do is to expand the times for periodic abstinence, and be on the safe side. 

The Church would not recommend NFP if it were not reliable as an effective means of spacing pregnancies. NFP is very reliable, if it is learned thoroughly and practices faithfully. Now the responsibility is in your court and that of your husband. 

Help your husband understand why every couple is to be open to the total goodness of love and to the total goodness of life in their spousal acts. Help him understand that the spousal act, as God designed it, requires that both spouses make the total personal gift of themselves to each other. That means no conditions, no reservations, and nothing held back. This includes your fertility. God has a magnificent plan for spouses and their spousal act. And He never asks the impossible from us. He only asks that we learn that self-sacrifice is part of real love. 

Help your husband understand that he shares the task with you of teaching your eight children the virtue of self-possession, self-control, and self-sacrifice. How can a sterilized father, or mother, do this? Their children know if their parents are contracepting or are sterilized. 

You are in my prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask the Holy Family to give you the strength to do what is right. 

Fr. Dan McCaffrey
NFP Outreach