I’ve been here before, but started again with a new name because I would prefer to be anonymous.
I have a terrible problem that is hurting my marriage, my family life and my spiritual life. I feel like there are no good answers. I am extremely torn and feel like our family might just be at a point where the only thing we can do is leave the Church for a while.
I will try to keep the details brief, but please feel free to ask more… Any compassionate advice would be welcome. What I am not interested in hearing is, “Stick to Church teaching and consider the misery your cross to bear!”
I had my fourth child last year. She is still nursing and I am not cycling yet. Therefore, NFP is not a super reliable way for me to avoid pregnancy. That pregnancy was extremely scary. I had hypertension and had to deliver the baby early via induction. The condition damaged my heart and at some point I will probably need a Pacemaker to correct it. I was on bed rest for four months, wherein I had to get full-time help to raise the other three children. We do have a wonderful new child and praise the Lord she is well and I did not pass away. I am still recovering, but hopefully will continue to get stronger.
A new pregnancy could be a life or death scenario for me. Beyond that, we definitely feel that our family is a great size and we are thankful for what we have. After four rough pregnancies, each one worse than the last, we feel very okay saying that we do not want any more pregnancies and are ready to move on to the next part of parenting - i.e. having a healthy, available mom who is not sick, pregnant and nursing all the time! Not always being in crisis mode and finally enjoying a little time that is less physically demanding on us.
We became pregnant right after we married and would really love to be a couple again, instead of two ships passing in the night just trying to get everything done for four tiny kids. We would love to be able to take a weekend away once in a while or just have peaceful dinners as a family vs. baby needing to nurse, toddler melting down, preschooler whining and tired, older child needing help with homework… This is infinitely worse when I am pregnant or postpartum, my husband is a single dad with some hired help. In other words, we are tired and ready to have a bit more freedom and flexibility in our world.
So, with those two things in mind my husband would like to get a vasectomy. I won’t like - it sounds wonderful. However, we are both Catholic and we know it’s a sin. I have told him that I do not want him to do it, as I fear he will burn in hell for it. He says he will do anything to protect me and our marriage. He says there is fundamentally no difference between using NFP to avoid pregnancy and using a vasectomy - both are purported to have the same “failure” rate. I will be very honest with you and say that I do not truly believe that we will be punished by God for prayerfully discerning that we need to not have more pregnancies and using modern medicine to achieve it. BUT, I do think there is value in being obedient to The Church, even if The Church is wrong on this point. If I am to call myself a Catholic, I need to abide by the “rules” whether they are reasonable or not.
My husband says that everyone at Mass is using contraception and not thinking twice about it, and that The Church needs to be flexible in cases like ours. We are not necessarily closed off to more CHILDREN forever, in fact we would love to adopt, but I just can’t be pregnant anymore.
I’ve told my husband that The Church would say we can do two things: Use NFP and hope that it does not fail and that we never make an error, or abstain for the next 20ish years (I am 33.) He says that is preposterous and that, while he is totally fine with limiting sexual activity, it is unacceptable to say that his sex life is totally over. He is a very tender, caring man and really enjoys that part of our relationship. It is not just as “itch to scratch” for him, but a way of renewing our vows and showing our love and intimacy. He is not your typical “dog” who just wants dirty sex constantly, but it IS very important to him to share that time with me.
But. He doesn’t want to kill me. He doesn’t want me to have to be on months of bed rest and not be able to be there for my older children. He doesn’t want me to feel so desperately sick. He feels it is his duty to protect me and our family from that.
It’s funny, I always wanted 6 or 7 kids. But, then reality struck. I am not very good at being pregnant. However, a life without any sexual intimacy cannot be healthy and my husband says that although he will do anything for me, that total abstinence would be damaging to him and to our relationship. I don’t know what to do - my marriage is a sacred bond. My family is a sacred unit. My responsibilities to The Church are real.
At this point I almost wonder if we wouldn’t be happier elsewhere. It just seems like we are in this small division of people who really, really can’t get pregnant (but would be fine with more children), really care about following the doctrine, and don’t want to burn in hell.
My husband says if I believe God would throw us in Hell for using contraception under these circumstances, then God is evil and most of the world is going to burn. I just don’t know.
Thanks for listening.
PS. we have talked with our priest, and while he did offer NFP as a solution, even he said that if circumstances were this dire, that God understands there is sometimes a gray area and we have to go with our conscience.