Marriage is the best investment we can make in life and there is no investment possible without some element of risk.
If everyone played safe in their human-relations investments, nobody would ever take the first step in expressing and showing trust. Having picked a mate, with heart, mind and sexual. feelings, the hand of friendship should be extended as well as the kiss of love. Can’t husband and wife be true friends as well as lovers? And true friendship implies trust.
Fear of Pregnancy.
This is still another prevalent fear that can work havoc with the marriage relationship. I shall not forget the young wife who told me: “I’m determined not to become pregnant, I’m too afraid of having a baby. Maybe I’ll change in the future, but that’s how I feel now. I won’t let my husband come close to me except on certain days I think are safe based on my menstrual cycle.”
Here was a cool, calculating, but nevertheless fear-ridden woman who was destroying the spontaneity of her marriage. For some time, the wife clung to her unreasoning fear. Then, finally, she became pregnant. Her fear intensified. On her first visit to the obstetrician, she was trembling. For more than an hour, the doctor comforted her, reassured her that the chances were overwhelmingly against any mishap occurring.
After some probing, he discovered the two-sided basis of his patient’s fear. First, she felt that she would die in childbirth. Second, she believed she might give birth to an “imperfect” child. These, incidentally, are the two most common fears in pregnancy.
I take my hat off to that obstetrician. He did what I am afraid is not often enough done in such cases. He spent much extra time during her regular monthly appointment periods—and at certain times in between—explaining how safe childbirth is nowadays for both mother and baby.
After five months, he finally convinced her that there was only the remotest possibility of anything being wrong with the baby and that she would come through it all with flying colors—as indeed she did. In the meantime, since she was pregnant already, her fear of intercourse disappeared, to her own and her husband’s great satisfaction.
How to talk to your children about sex – responsible advice
Another woman, aged thirty and married five years, was extremely afraid of pregnancy, but for another prevalent reason. She was afraid that pregnancy would permanently distort her body and destroy her beauty. She had convinced herself that pregnancy would mean loss of her appeal to her husband and, ultimately, divorce.
She expressed this fear to a close friend who put her in touch with a patient and considerate doctor. Together, this woman and the doctor worked out the problem. He explained the facts about weight gain to the woman—that the pounds can roll off after the birth of a child—and the woman softened in her fear of pregnancy. After some considerable time, she became convinced that pregnancy would not turn her into a grotesque individual. Later, she became pregnant and discovered for herself the truth of the doctor’s words.
It goes without saying that fear of pain is one of the most universal fears. One woman I know had such a fear and she dreaded the thought of becoming pregnant. As a result of her dread, she permitted herself and her husband to have intercourse very infrequently. This, of course, was the source of considerable tension in their household.
This wife had gone to school with a woman who become a registered nurse. They renewed their friendship and the wife expressed her fear to the nurse. The latter explained the uses of modern anesthesia in the labor and delivery room and the wife’s fear decreased to the point where normal sex relations and pregnancy followed naturally.
If you ask her about pain, her reply is: “Of course, it’s not painless, but anyone can take some discomfort once”. Let’s turn to such fears as may understandably cause real harm.
She has been cautioned by her doctor not to become pregnant for some time. He points out, and rightly, that a “quick” pregnancy might prove deleterious to her health and to the equilibrium of the entire family. It would be quite normal for such a wife to be unable to respond to her husband completely because of the devastating fear of pregnancy.
CONTRACEPTION—THE ANSWER. Modern medicine has made it possible for married couples in every circumstance and every walk of life to continue deepening their marital relationships by expressing mutual love without fear of pregnancy. Contraception is the answer.
Even among Roman Catholics, the only group that does not accept medical contraception, the rhythm method, if practiced with extreme care under the guidance of a knowledgeable physician, can, in most cases, permit the couple to plan pregnancies quite successfully.
Until recently there was a tendency on the part of a few religious groups to hold that the primary purpose of marriage was procreation, and that therefore the sexual act should not be indulged in except for this purpose. Most of the large religious groups have now turned from this belief. Perhaps the best statement of the newer thinking on the part of a religious body is embodied in the resolutions and conclusions of the Lambeth Conference held in England in 1958. This was sponsored by the Anglican (Episcopal) Church with a total of forty-six nations represented. The Conference findings in regard to family planning resulted from years of study and discussion. Here are a few excerpts from Conference conclusions:
The Conference believes that the responsibility for deciding upon the number and frequency of children has been laid by God upon the consciences of parents everywhere; that tills planning, in such ways as are mutually acceptable to husband and wife in Christian conscience, is a right and important factor in Christian family life and should be the result of positive choice before God. The process of human reproduction, from the earliest levels of Biblical revelation, has been seen as invested with a special and responsible dignity. The Biblical revelation, however, does not limit the Function of sexuality and the family to the reproductive purpose.”
There is no modern medical contraceptive method that in any way affects a couple’s fertility. What may happen, however, is that a young couple, anxious to get established financially, may continue to use contraceptive methods for five or six years. They may then stop using contraception and try for two years to achieve pregnancy before finally coming in for diagnosis and treatment of a possible sub-fertility. By this time the couple may be in their thirties, and it is well known that fertility decreases with age. In any case if the couple originally had an undiscovered fertility problem, valuable time has been lost.
This is the reason why couples are well-advised to use contraceptive methods (including the rhythm method) for no more than the first two years of marriage before trying for the first pregnancy.
Information on the best contraceptive methods for each couple can be obtained from most physicians. In addition, such information is available in family planning clinics throughout the United Kingdom. Marriage counselors and clergymen can also be helpful in directing engaged or married couples to reliable sources of information.
If a couple has been faithfully using a reliable method and then skips using it just one time—and if that one time happens to be on the very day when the woman ovulates—a baby will surely be the result. Although the couple may blame the method, this can certainly not be called a “method failure”! For this reason, it is especially important for each couple to use a method that is so acceptable to both husband and wife that they will never be tempted to omit its use even “just this once”.
The following medically-approved methods are listed roughly in the order of their effectiveness when they are used every time. Broadly the first three methods are regarded as effective, the others as giving limited protection.