Parenting

Ask Scary Mommy: My Husband Won't Get a Vasectomy

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Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.

This week: What do you do when you’re done having kids, but your husband won’t get a vasectomy? Email advice@scarymommy.com

Dear Scary Mommy,

My husband and I have been happily married for 10 years, and we have two kids—ages 8 and 5. We’ve known since our youngest was born that we aren’t interested in having any more kids. It’s non-negotiable (I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, plus we’re no longer spring chickens, either). I can’t be on hormonal birth control for multiple reasons, so that’s not an option right now. I’m also not interested in getting an IUD, because the pain of insertion is horrific, there are risk factors, and I feel I’ve contributed enough of my body and endured enough pain. (Funny how they give you nothing but ibuprofen for an IUD insertion, but valium and numbing shots for a vasectomy, huh?) My husband, however, refuses to get a vasectomy. Just downright refuses. He says he’s scared of the pain (this makes me want to scream) and won’t even make an appointment for a consultation. Before we had a second child, he told me that he would get a vasectomy after he was born, and now I feel lied to. I’m terrified of getting pregnant again and don’t want to be put in the position of having an abortion or having an unwanted third child. We haven’t had sex in over a year because of this. What the hell am I supposed to do here?

Oy. Yeah, it’s hard to take men seriously when they’re fearful of pain down there after you know, watching their partners birth children either vaginally or surgically—neither of which is a walk in the park. Not to mention healing from either of those things, which absolutely takes longer than 36 hours on a couch with a bag of frozen peas on your groin.

You’re completely valid in all of your feelings, no doubt about it.

I’m going to assume this is something you’ve discussed many, many times during the last five years. Does he shut down completely when you bring it up? If so, he needs to know that he has to be an adult and communicate his fears and feelings to the person he chose to spend the rest of his life with and share children with.

Couples counseling is a must here. If therapy is accessible and financially doable for you, you should look into it ASAP. The anxiety you’re clearly feeling over this situation has to be so stressful to live with, and I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. He needs to figure out why he’s so dead-set on not getting this procedure done at the risk of your sexual relationship, your overall marriage, and your mental and physical health. I suspect he already knows he can’t validate his refusal when up against all of those things and clearly needs to work all of that out with an experienced third-party counselor.

I think it’s wise not to risk an unwanted pregnancy, but a year without sex is a very long time. Whether he has a very real fear of pain, or he equates his worth as a man with the ability to fertilize an egg, or he’s just a stubborn ass who puts things off—he needs someone else to help him come to his senses here. Even if you and the therapist come to the same conclusion, he might just need to hear it from someone else.

You both need to find a way to validate one another’s feelings, though he was the one who was deceptive here. He led you to believe you both were on the same page and had an agreement about the vasectomy, and he is the one who’s backtracking now. Please get into counseling as soon as you can, if you can. I wish you luck and I’m sending you so much love. You deserve clarity and respect here, and I hope you get it.