What to do if spouses cannot agree on birth control?

My wife is Catholic but does not believe in the Church’s teaching on birth control. I used to agree with her, but over the past several years have begun to deepen my faith and now want to follow the Church’s teaching. She has threatened me with divorce if I don’t get a vasectomy once we reach middle age. (Thankfully the time for that is still some years away – we’ve only been married for 3 years.) She absolutely refuses to practice, or even consider NFP, which she calls “nonsense.” I am unwilling to get a vasectomy and I do not want to use birth control. I am willing to abstain altogether – which would be difficult – if that is what it takes to not commit sin.

She thinks that I am a “Bible banger” and am in need of serious help. We are both on opposite sides and it is creating a huge divide in our marriage. What can someone do it they really want to follow the church’s teaching but thier spouse will not go along with it? What if divorce is threatened? What if a compromise cannnot be reached?

When one spouse does not wish to practice birth control, but the other insists upon it, the Church allows the non-practicing spouse to engage in relations with the contracepting spouse for the sake of maintaining the marriage. The non-practicing partner is not allowed to use birth control himself, he must make his opposition to birth control known, and – at appropriate times – he should seek to educate his spouse about the morality of the practice. But, he can tolerate the fact that a contracepting spouse insists on birth control. In this case, you cannot agree to have a vasectomy, but you can engage in relations with your wife even if she insists on using birth control herself.

Frankly, I think you have larger issues here than birth control that you would do well to consider taking to a Catholic marital counselor: Your wife not only does not respect you (as demonstrated by your account of her emotional and verbal abuse of you), but she insists that *you *must be the one to permanently sterilize yourself (and thus mutilate your body) on threat of divorce. These are serious issues that should be addressed as soon as possible. I recommend contacting the Pastoral Solutions Institute or CatholicTherapists.com for a referral to a Catholic marital counselor in your area. If your wife refuses to seek therapy with you, I urge you to consider going by yourself. God bless.

Recommended reading:

Vademecum for Confessors Concerning Some Aspects of the Morality of Conjugal Life by the Pontifical Council for the Family

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