Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dad wavering on permanent step to have no more kids
Virginia: Our third child is due this spring. My wife really wants me to get a vasectomy. I am balking; I don't know why. She and I are in complete agreement that we don't want more kids, but with the divorce rate where it is, I feel antsy about making such a permanent decision. Am I a jerk?
Carolyn: It doesn't say great things about you that you're thinking ahead to your next wife — as your current wife is due any day, no less. I'm as harsh a realist as the next jerk, but this seems to take it to a new level.
Ask your urologist about the permanence of a vasectomy. If you hoard some money from your current wife and young children, you can spring for the expensive procedures to father children post-vasectomy with your next wife.
Anonymous: Re: Vasectomy: I'm not sure this guy is a jerk. Granted, he could have picked a better reason, but I get it — and I am a woman. I have the same reaction when my husband brings it up. To me, you just never know what the future holds. My husband is only 33 and I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. I would hate for him to wipe out his procreation option.
Carolyn: But he didn't say "runaway bus." He cited "next wife." The reason is everything.
Anonymous 2: Re: Vasectomy: If every decision was meant to cover every possible angle, no decision would ever be made. The best you can do is make a responsible decision based on what you have now, can reasonably expect in the future, and a wish and a prayer. You currently have a wife; you currently have (almost) three children; you want no more children (and I still can't figure how that changes with a new wife — you don't get rid of the three you have).
So your choices are either you have a vasectomy or she has tubal ligation, or you take your chances on less permanent birth control. Seems like you may need to consider, at least, that vasectomy would be the most reasonable decision.
Carolyn: Either that, or he admits that his "what he has now" list is in doubt — either the marriage or the no-more-kids certainty — and deals with it. Thanks.
Anonymous 3: Re: Vasectomy: I asked my husband to get a vasectomy when my second child was 1. A vasectomy was a no-brainer because it was so much easier and safer than a tubal ligation. But when my daughter went off to kindergarten, the thought often crept in that my request might have been a little hasty. Vasectomy was the right answer for us, but maybe not quite at the right time. This husband should certainly do everything in his power to limit his family size if that's what they both want, but pushing someone into giving up their fertility when they don't feel ready is usually a mistake.
Carolyn: True. Likewise, though, it's not fair to drag out that "I'm not ready" phase indefinitely. When it's mutually agreed, "No more kids," then it's time. You can't ask your wife to give up sex, have major surgery, take hormones or risk another pregnancy, just because you're afraid to get snipped.