Feeling trapped regarding birth control--what do I do?

After years of struggling with the issue of contraception with my wife (we are both Catholic), she just recently gave me an ultimatum: either I agree to use condoms at times or she will be sterilized after the birth of our third child (in a few months).

Throughout these trials, I have steadfastly refused to engage in contraception while trying to convince her that NFP can work if we are careful. She decided to use the pill for a time, but has become convinced (thankfully) that the drug is not worth the potential side-effect, the worst being the potential for abortion. But then she decided that she would rather be sterile than cause an accidental abortion with the pill; thus her ultimatum. She is absolutely terrified of an unplanned pregnancy, partly due to other medical concerns, but refuses to believe that total abstinence for a time is the best option.

I am at a total loss at this point. We have been blessed with two healthy children and one on the way. This last pregnancy has been difficult physically for my wife, but the thought of a permanent “solution” seems so completely wrong to me. Somehow I feel like using a condom occasionally MUST be better than a permanently sterile marriage. I have tried SO hard to convince her to try NFP again, but she is adamant. I feel trapped.

Besides praying for her, what can I possibly do? Is it really worth no more children EVER to continue my refusal to use a condom on occasion?



You need to know that the Church does allow you to engage in sexual relations with a spouse who is using birth control. The dissenting spouse must be the one who is using it and not you. Also you must continue to educate and encourage the spouse according to the Church’s teachings on this matter.

I encourage you to read and have your wife read “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West. It’s available through shopcatholic.com or by phone 888 291 8000.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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