What Can I Do When My Husband Insists That Birth Control Is My Problem?

Ask Demetria: His position is selfish and crass, and it may point to a larger problem in the relationship.

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Dear Demetria:

My husband and I are discussing stopping at baby No. 2. I’m fine with that, but not his solution. He wants me to get my tubes tied or get on birth control. I told him I don’t want to and suggested instead that he have a vasectomy or wear a condom. He said he’s not having an operation and he’s not wearing a condom. He says my body is already used to trauma since I give birth, so why not add the tubes to the operation?

It’s not fair that I have to carry his kids and then, on top of that, get on birth control just because he won’t wear a condom. I don’t know how else to explain to him that I’m not getting my tubes tied. I already gave up my body and career for our family and feel he’s getting the good side of stuff. How can we resolve this? —Anonymous

Consider this your heads-up that you’re not going to like my answer. Your husband’s point of view here is crass. There’s an issue that needs addressing, and he’s decided that you alone are the one who needs to address it. He’s not willing to take the most simple solution—a condom—because he doesn’t want to lose any pleasure. He is, however, comfortable placing the onus of solving this issue on you, since you’re “used to trauma” even though it requires significantly more sacrifice from you than it would from him.

Your husband is way too comfortable shucking the responsibility onto you. You’re right. It isn’t fair. But life isn’t.

Your frustration is understandable. That said, he’s made it 100 percent clear that he doesn’t consider family planning his problem. So unless you’re going to stop having sex after kid No. 2—it actually solves the current problem and addresses all concerns but raises an even bigger one—you’re going to have to pick up the ball he’s decided to drop in your lap.

The bottom line is that when it comes to childbearing and rearing, the primary sacrifice—body, time, energy—comes from you. If you want to ensure that you don’t have a house full of kids with someone who, I can tell by your question, you already don’t think pulls his weight, you need to make sure it doesn’t happen. That means you bite the bullet and go to your ob-gyn and have a conversation about your best options.

Now that we’ve addressed that, can we get to the real issue? You feel that you’re getting the short end of the stick in your marriage and you’re sick of it. You’re arguing about what’s “fair” and what you’ve “given up” and “his” kids, not “ours.” Family planning is just the battleground on which you’ve chosen to fight an ongoing war. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else, and it will become everything else until you feel that your husband is making sacrifices equal to yours.

Instead of arguing around this issue, it will be much more simple and much less painful if you can just address it. Try, “I am frustrated because I feel ... ” and “What I need to not be frustrated is ... ” and “You can help me by doing ... ” Ask for what you want, whether it’s him watching the kid(s) so you can work out to get your body back, or him being more supportive of your going back to school or staying at the office longer to make up for lost time. Whatever it is, speak up so you can get your needs met.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

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