Rough night.

August 10, 2008

The last week has brought with it a long-overdue, heavy-duty discussion w/ RB about his taking responsibility for birth control.  I have been on oral contraceptives for…ever, it seems (11-12 years?), and the longer I’m on it, the more it seems to “work” primarily by killing my libido.  While we have occasionally had brief and passing discussions about alternatives (IUD or ligation for me–though the former is not recommended for women who haven’t had children–or vasectomy for him), they have only been brief and passing.  But the last time it came up, in a jokey way, RB said something that burrowed into my brain.  His words, more or less, were “but vasectomy is so permanent.  I mean, I can’t even talk myself into getting a tattoo  because I might regret it.  I mean, I know NOW I don’t want kids, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t want them in the future.”  At the time, all I said was “Duuuhhhh.  That’s the point.”  But it gnawed at me.

So Friday night the topic arose again, and I said what I was terrified to say, but had to say, basically:  “RB, I’m not forcing you to get the snip.  But if you think you might want to have children at some point in the future, you need to know that you will be having them with a woman who is NOT me.”  There ensued a nearly hour-long back-and-forth where he insisted that he absolutely is certain that he doesn’t want them, but what if he will in 20 years?  What if he has the procedure (which he admitted is the preferable alternative, what with the relative seriousness, cost/insurance coverage, and health and hormonal implications of the options for men and women), and then changes his mind?  What about regret?  What about doubt?  Also: IT’S A KNIFE ON HIS JUNK! 

It was pretty fierce there for a while.  He questioned me:  how do you know you won’t regret it?  I don’t know, for certain, but I’d rather regret NOT having kids than have them and regret THAT.  Moreover, I KNOW MYSELF.  I know that I don’t enjoy the company of children for more than a hour or so at a time.  Babies don’t make me goopy and snuggly (pets are another story).  I didn’t grow up thinking about being a wife or mother; these were not my dreams.  I like working with young people, but that’s why I always wanted to be a teacher.  I mean, how do you know you want anything you want?  You talk to yourself about it, you think about what you value, you imagine the your ideal life and what makes it up.  That’s how I know that being a parent is not for me.  I’ve “known” since high school.  Did he never think about it?

And then back to The Tattoo Defense.

Which is shit.  Comparing your feelings about a tattoo to whether or not you want to be a parent?  Yes, they are both (more or less) permanent decisions, but again, I can’t even count how many orders of magnitude exist between those two issues.  His point, however,  was that he gets all verklempt about little decisions, so how can I expect him to make such a big one?

When I pointed out that he seemed perfectly content to let me and my body bear the brunt of the contraception question, he squirmed uncomfortably.  He was okay with the decision to be childfree, as long as the decision wasn’t actually HIS.  That way, he was free to turn any regret he had into blame.  And that was what made me angrier than anything, because it stunk of cowardice.

It went round and round, faster and scarier, more and more dangerous and disorienting, like the carousel at the end of Strangers on a Train.  I thought I knew him.  I thought he understood me.  But there we were.  The conversation ended when I said that I needed him to think, seriously, respectfully, about what he wanted, and let me know when he was able.

I sat down and tried to focus my eyes, with varying amounts of success, on the Opening Ceremonies.  It was a couple of hours later that he sat down beside me and said “I think what I really want is a weiner dog.  And I’m scared of that, too.” 

We cried a little.


One comment

  1. Um… IUD’s suck. If you think the pill is killing your libido, you will probably be really unhappy with it.

    And, um. Our #3 is pretty much one man’s cowardice involving someone snipping his junk.

    And, um… weiner dogs are really cute. Especially when they are named Oscar or Frank.

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