Pull-out method or refusing husband?

I have read some other forum posts on this subject, but didn’t really see any clear answers…

My situation is this: I am married to a man who is a baptised Catholic, but he is not and never has been practising. His father unfortunately witnessed some awful things in some Catholic boarding schools and since then, cannot stand to be around priests, and lost a lot of respect for the Church as an institution. My husband picked up his father’s attitudes about this, although we were married in the Church and had our daughter baptised. He will attend Mass with me sometimes. Basically, he is Catholic in a cultural sense and has some belief in God, but does not take Church teaching on anything seriously. (This topic could be another thread of its own…)

My daughter is six months old and I am willing to accept as many children that might be born in the future. My husband feels that we should wait until some undefined point in the future to have another child, so he sometimes uses the pull-out method. (Sometimes he does not. It seems to depend on his mood that day.) He knows that I am opposed to this and that I hope to have more children - I have told him several times.

I have not specifically explained that the pull-out method is against Catholic teaching, as he wouldn’t care and I’m actually afraid that it might antagonise him. He may not even believe that the Catholic Church teaches this, as we never hear any priests mention it. (We get mostly watered-down teaching and preaching in our diocese, and when I talk to my husband about Catholic teaching and sins, he will often ask me, “When have you ever heard a priest say to do this/not do this?”)

I mentioned this in Confession once, and the priest told me that as long as I am not taking the pill, or using some kind of method of birth control myself, that I am not responsible for the sin.

I haven’t talked to my husband much about NFP, but he doesn’t seem to trust it very much. I tell him that there is never an absolute 100% guarantee that I can’t get pregnant on any given day. I know that some parishes around here occasionally have courses, but he would never show up. (I know that the pull-out method is not reliable, but my husband is very stubborn and thinks and does what he wants.)

Obviously, getting him to talk to a priest or read any Catholic literature is out of the question. (He does not like to read, anyway.) He has only been to Confession a few times in his life, and unless he has a conversion, will probably not go again until we baptise an eventual second child.

At one point, I was refusing to have relations with him because of this situation, but I know that this is also a mortal sin.

Other than praying for his conversion, and continuing to tell him that I am opposed to the pull-out method, how should I handle this situation? Is it better to have relations with him knowing that he will be committing a mortal sin some of those times, or is it better to refuse to have relations with him?

Follow your pastor’s advice in confession regarding marital relations.

I would also encourage you to learn NFP. He need not attend. You can learn it on your own and chart. At least then you can tell him when you are fertile if you feel the need to avoid and he can decide whether he wants to chance it or not. You are correct, withdrawing has a high degree of failure. So, if you have good information through your charting, perhaps your husband will come to understand the reliability of NFP.

The moral theory about the Coitus interruptus:

  1. The Coitus interruptus, in which the husband withdraws himself before the completion of the act, and he finishes it outside, is morally wrong, for him and for her, if they (him and her) agree with that (their intentions to both of them).

  2. The Coitus interruptus, in which the wife withdraws herself before the completion of the act, and he finishes it outside, is morally wrong, for her and for him, if they (her and him) agree with that (their intentions to both of them).

3.The Coitus interruptus, in which the wife and the husband withdraw together, before the completion of the act, and he finishes it outside, is morally wrong, for her and for him, if they (her and him) agree with that (their intentions to both of them).

  1. The Coitus interruptus, in which the husband withdraws before the completion of the act, and he finishes it outside, is morally wrong, for him only, if he agrees with that, and if she does not agree with that (not her intention, she is passive): for her, that is not immoral because, she is the passive agent.

  2. The Coitus interruptus, in which wife withdraws herself before the completion of the act, and he finishes it outside, is morally wrong, for her only, if she agrees with that, and if he does not agree with that (not his intention, he is passive): for him, that is not immoral, because he is the passive agent.

======> In those cases, the voluntary Coitus interruptus is immoral for both, or for only one.

  1. The involuntary " coitus interruptus ", coming from him, coming from her, or coming from them (him and her) because of an accident in link with exterior events or events from them without their will, is not immoral, for both of them and their couple, because it is involuntary.

======> In this case, the " Coitus interruptus " is not sinful because of the lack of intention, it is involuntary.

Conclusion:

The innocent spouse (you, his wife) has the natural right of requesting the marital act to the other. In your situation, you are an innocent wife and morally speaking you can ask him of practicing the marital act, even if it is probable that he uses usually " the Pull-out method " (Coitus interruptus). Your are without fault. You are alright to say to him that this sexual practice of Coitus interruptus is morally wrong for him, but not all the time, and not at each time where you are making love.

The innocent spouse can say yes to the marital request of the usually guilty spouse: you are not responsible of his final behavior

“(I know that the pull-out method is not reliable, but my husband is very stubborn and thinks and does what he wants.)”

That sounds terrible.

Can you get him to come along to an OB/GYN appointment and have your doctor explain to him how high the failure rate is with withdrawal?

If he persists, tell him that by using such an ineffective family planning method, he is in effect choosing to have another child, with all that entails. You can tell him that you don’t mind, but that he needs to think about whether that is what he wants right now.

It seems to me that family planning is really the least of your problems if it is so difficult to get him to listen to you in such a crucial area of your life, especially so early in your parenthood and marriage. I think your marriage needs a lot of shoring up, which is going to become more obvious to you as your family grows.

BTW, I don’t EVER want to hear a sermon against withdrawal!

I guess it is up to me to say what is needed, you two need to sit down and talk.

Why? Should we just leave the rank and file ignorant? There’s no need to be overly graphic but it’s not like “sheltering” kids from the facts of life keeps them from discovering it all on their own. Same can be said for the married folks out there.

Hoping I can help here… since your husband is skeptical of church teachigs, I’ll be citing statistics to you from the Guttmacher Institute, an independent research organization that used to be Planned Parenthood’s research arm.

Statistically, the “pull out” method (also know as “coitus interruptus” or “withdrawal”) has a pretty high rate of failing. According to the Guttmacher statistics, if 100 women are using “withdrawal” during regular intercourse, on average, 22 of them will get pregnant within one year if practiced “typically.” If practiced “perfectly,” 4 of 100 women practicing the method will get pregnant within one year.

Biologically speaking, some sperm can be released prior to a man ejaculating. It’s not a great number of sperm, but it does happen.

If your husband is serious about postponing further children, pulling out (not all the time) is a bit like rolling the dice to avoid pregnancy. From your situation, it sounds like there’s about a 1 in 5 chance that you become pregnant soon. You may welcome that, but he may not, and that may not be the ideal welcome for your next child.

I haven’t talked to my husband much about NFP, but he doesn’t seem to trust it very much. I tell him that there is never an absolute 100% guarantee that I can’t get pregnant on any given day. I know that some parishes around here occasionally have courses, but he would never show up. (I know that the pull-out method is not reliable, but my husband is very stubborn and thinks and does what he wants.)

According to the Guttmacher Institute (again, Planned Parenthood’s former research arm), one of the most effective methods of NFP (which they call “fertility-awareness based methods”) is the “symptothermal method.” If 100 women were using the symptothermal method during regular intercourse, less than one (0.4) would get pregnant during the course of a year.

Compare this to the use of male condoms: with “typical” use, 18 of 100 women who have regular intercourse over the course of a year using only male condoms as contraception will get pregnant. Under “perfect” use (meaning no condom breakage, slips, or misuse) 2 of 100 women will get pregnant over the course of a year.

In other words, according to Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, one particuar NFP method, the symptothermal method, is more effective than condoms. It is also (within measurement error) as effective as contraceptive pills.

Here is a description of the symptothermal method on the Planned Parenthood web site:
plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/symptothermal-method-22142.htm

The “symptothermal” method uses two strategies at once to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy (or to maximize the chances of getting pregnant when you want to). In general, the “thermal” part consists of a woman taking her “basal body temperature” first thing every morning. That means using a $10 basal thermometer you can buy at most drug stores and measuring your vaginal temperature. You track the daily temperature as on a chart, and after recording your temperatures for a month, you can identify when you ovulate. Here’s an example of the chart from Planned Parenthood with an example that notes when a woman is menstruating, the days when she is most likely to get pregnant if having intercourse (extending three days after ovulation), and the “safe days” between ovulation and menstruation:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/images/PPFA/080000-Temperature_Chart.jpg

The symptothermal method also uses a woman’s “symptoms,” meaning an examination of her cervical mucus. Days with the most “slippery mucus” correspond with ovulation. Here’s Planned Parenthood’s description of it.

I wouldn’t advise starting NFP without taking a course. However, you can take one yourself.

I will also suggest you look into the “Creighton method,” which seems to be based on cervical mucus.

At one point, I was refusing to have relations with him because of this situation, but I know that this is also a mortal sin.

Actually, the key to NFP is “periodic continence,” meaning denying him relations during the days when you’re most likely to get pregnant. Here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the morality of NFP:
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.157 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.

Other than praying for his conversion, and continuing to tell him that I am opposed to the pull-out method, how should I handle this situation? Is it better to have relations with him knowing that he will be committing a mortal sin some of those times, or is it better to refuse to have relations with him?

I would suggest learning as much as you can about your own body and how it works. Telling your husband about NFP and that when you DO have sex using NFP, he doesn’t have to pull out and worry that you’ve gotten pregnant. It may well make both your sexual experiences better!

God bless!

A question for everyone who is saying, “tell him that the withdrawal method of birth control is horribly inefficient!”:

This sub-text of this message isn’t “this is immoral and against Catholic teaching”, but rather, “this method of birth control that you’ve chosen doesn’t work.” If that’s the message he hears, how likely do you think it is that he might think to himself, “hmm… good point – let’s pick another method!”…? Then, if that were the case, the OP might find herself in a worse situation, in which she’s being pressured into accepting another method of birth control that her husband is foisting upon her! That would take the OP out of the frying pan and into the fire!

I say: listen to your confessor, OP. Listen, and keep praying for your husband’s conversion!

It is NOT a mortal sin for you to refuse to partake in relations that will end with your spouse pulling out. The same for if he starts insisting that he use a condom. You are within your rights to refuse. With that said, you are also not sinning if you’ve made it very clear that you want no part in his pulling out. And since he has no rhyme or reason for when he chooses to pull out I think it would be hard for you to know ahead of time.

I would suggest having a real conversation about this with him. Whether HE regards it as sin or not is beside the point. It is something that YOU, his wife and partner are uncomfortable with and it is a sinful practice for him.

The Bucket said:

“Why? Should we just leave the rank and file ignorant? There’s no need to be overly graphic but it’s not like “sheltering” kids from the facts of life keeps them from discovering it all on their own. Same can be said for the married folks out there.”

I don’t think it’s the role of somebody who doesn’t know my children very well and doesn’t have my permission to be involved in their sexual education to give sexually graphic sermons at Mass.

Gorgias said:

"A question for everyone who is saying, “tell him that the withdrawal method of birth control is horribly inefficient!”:

“This sub-text of this message isn’t “this is immoral and against Catholic teaching”, but rather, “this method of birth control that you’ve chosen doesn’t work.” If that’s the message he hears, how likely do you think it is that he might think to himself, “hmm… good point – let’s pick another method!”…? Then, if that were the case, the OP might find herself in a worse situation, in which she’s being pressured into accepting another method of birth control that her husband is foisting upon her! That would take the OP out of the frying pan and into the fire!”

Aside from condoms, any other contraceptive method is going to involve the OP’s cooperation. She can just refuse. Withdrawal, however, is more or less under his control, as far as it is under anybody’s control. (Using my mind-reading skills, I’m betting that the OP’s husband is the kind of secular guy who doesn’t like condoms.)

There are many bad things about the OP’s husband’s use of withdrawal and it’s not necessary for everybody to mention every single thing wrong with it (like the fact that it’s got to be very sexually unsatisfactory and anxiety-provoking for both of them). Also, given that he is not an enthusiastically practicing Catholic, what the Catholic church does and doesn’t teach about withdrawal is not going to be very convincing to him. I would encourage the OP to mention the church’s teaching, but I would not expect him to find that at all convincing.

Effectiveness matters because 1) the OP’s husband doesn’t want more children at this point and 2) he has chosen pretty much the least effective birth control method available. This means that based on what the OP has said of her husband’s personality, her husband may well be irrationally angry with her and unwelcoming to the new baby, which would be a terrible situation for her and her children to find themselves in.

The OP’s husband needs to understand that choosing withdrawal means choosing to have another baby, and perhaps very soon.

So the Church does not have your permission to tell your children what is right and wrong when it comes to sexuality? Since when do you have the right to withhold the truth from them?

I’m not saying that Fr. Whomever needs to give a homily that says “Now remember everyone, it’s a mortal sin for a man to intentionally take his penis out of his wife’s vagina and ejaculate elsewhere. Doesn’t matter if the man and woman are married to one another another. That’s just as contraceptive as the Pill.”

Adults will know what “withdrawal” means and children will hear that and it will go right over their heads. If they ask, use parental discretion about revealing anything or everything.

“So the Church does not have your permission to tell your children what is right and wrong when it comes to sexuality? Since when do you have the right to withhold the truth from them?”

I think my kids are a bit older than your kids, which is why we see this differently. Abortion alone gives me enough grief with my kids (we had that talk in the past year). I think unnecessarily graphic talk in front of children is abusive.

My husband and I are the Church, too, and we have ultimate responsibility for appropriately educating our children.

Anything graphic but necessary can be dealt with in premarital counseling, in confession, or at an everything-you’ve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-sex-and-the-Church-but-were-afraid-to-ask talk Newman Center talk.

Considering that my oldest is 5.5, I’m sure you’re spot on. I know there will be weird hurdles coming down the line, but I tend to think a direct approach is best. I am the oldest of six kids and grew up in a pretty sheltered house when it came to sex. That sheltering was the result of my parents wanting to hide some pretty ugly stuff on my father’s part and hurt us severely.

Like I said, using the term “withdrawal” is not abusive. There’s no reason to be graphic but you can still be direct. It’s well and proper to learn about these things even in the homilies. Should we not teach our kids about how it is wrong to beat people or enslave people since that too is graphic? I guess I just don’t really know where you’re coming from since the stark truth is that the majority of Catholics do not show up at Mass every week and even the majority of those that do show up won’t spend an extra hour of their time to attend an “all you wanted to know about sex” session.

I think my perspective stems from what I saw in my own household and how it led to some really twisted social and sexual behavior and what I see in my wife’s household where everyone was perfectly honest, frank but not graphic or lewd. That’s probably because my wife’s parents are doctors and they introduced anatomy from a scientific and moral perspective at the same time to their kids. I like that approach.

I think the problem with Mass as a venue is that it’s “mixed company.” There’s everybody there, from toddlers to tweens to young adults to married couples to little old ladies who buried their husbands 30 years ago. There are only two of those groups that the subject of withdrawal is at all relevant for.

I guess what I would prefer is a positive sermon on the importance of a healthy family life and the importance (for parents and others) of generously welcoming children, and the importance for kids of treating siblings with love and respect, maybe a note that there’s literature at the back for the next diocesan NFP class, and maybe a mention that the theology of married life is tricky and if you have any detailed questions, you can post a question at EWTN or Catholic Answers or ask in the confessional.

Confirmation classes might be another appropriate venue, along with premarital counseling and special Newman Center events.

Where I’m coming from is that I have an 11-year-old daughter who I’m gradually informing about various things relating to puberty, and she’s already way squicked out by menstruation, body odor, unnecessary hair, acne, bras, etc. I’ve got enough on my plate right now without having to field questions on every perversion known to man.

I think it reasonable to believe that it would be inappropriate to deliver a message on “sexual morality in marriage” in identical language to toddlers, children, teenagers and adults of multiple generations. This is the likely reason that priests typically do not address this topic, in other than a cursory or “light touch” way, from the pulpit.

Having said that, I can say that I was never exposed to the “frank specifics” of what is an acceptable conjugal act and what is not. I discovered that reading these forums!

One thing I have never understood is what man would **want **to use that method? It seems to me that if a man is going to bail out at the very end, then what’s the point? Talk about ruining a wonderful moment. Yikes.

As long as you are being faithful to Catholic teaching, you are doing what you need to do. You cannot control what your husband does, and so as long as you don’t cooperate with this action by your husband (e.g., you don’t help him complete the act in some way that violates church teaching), and as long as it is not your will that he do this, then I don’t think you are culpable. In short, follow the advice your priest gave you.

I agree with the advice that it would be good for you to learn NFP, just so that you will know when you are most likely to be fertile or not to be fertile. Maybe over time you can convince your husband to do NFP with you if you have a reason to postpone pregnancy. But even if not, you at least would know more about your own fertility. My wife and I prefer the Billings method of NFP, but the sympto-thermal method and the Creighton model are also very good choices. (Billings is simpler and easier because it doesn’t require taking your temperature. Sympto-thermal uses both the mucus sign and temperature readings, and possibly other signs, so it is probably slightly more effective than Billings. Creighton is most often used in conjunction with seeing a pro-NFP doctor or health professional.)

:thumbsup:

Golly…? And. I thought I had a lousy sex life…

Well Paul, I don’t think the man is entirely bailing out!

I know; I do get that. :slight_smile:

But I still stand by what I said. It seems like it would be a very anti-climactic climax, so to speak.

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