Friday, February 22, 2019

A Counsellor Speaks

The impact of contraception on marriage

By Kathleen E. Meenagh, R.G.N., H.V., Adv, Dip. Person Centred Counselling

Through my work as a health visitor and qualified counsellor (including crisis pregnancy work) I have experienced first-hand the pain, suffering and brokenness that contraception causes to marital harmony and relationships in general.

I routinely came across couples in dire straits because their contraceptive method had failed and they were faced with an unexpected pregnancy. They greeted the news with distress rather than joy.  Those who chose to continue with their pregnancy often did so half-heartedly.  Sometimes fathers walk out on their families and the ‘unwanted’ child is ostracised.  Very often children never get over this experience of having been rejected from their first moment of conception.

The follow-on from this is that parents who did opt to abort their baby experienced bitter suffering afterwards, and often ended up parting company.  It sometimes arises that wives of men who have had vasectomies become pregnant as a result of an affair.  They then commonly choose to abort the child and end up enduring alone the consequent pain, guilt and shame.  Their dark secret creates a huge wall between them and their spouse, and separation often ensues.

The use of contraception, indeed has, in my professional experience, led to a higher rate of infidelity amongst married couples.  (Kate, can you cite a short anecedotal example of a few sentences?)  When contraception is introduced, the damage to the foundation stone of trust in the relationship is immeasurable.  Children whose parents separate or are unfaithful to each other often end up in the counselling room when they become adults, still deeply scarred by this experience.

The statistics reveal how the easy availability of contraception and the acceptance of sexual activity before marriage have led to an explosion in STDs.  Girls and boys / men and women who engage in casual sex end up hurt and damaged as a result, and even their chance of having babies in the future is put in the balance.  The ‘safe sex’ message often reduces people to mere objects for pleasure, with no space for the emotional and spiritual dimension of sexuality, which is an intrinsic and necessary part of their being.  The women I met were unaware of their bodies’ rhythms - when they were fertile and infertile.  The use of contraception had robbed them of the need to know how their own bodies worked.  I often asked if they were aware of the signs of fertility and 99% of the time they replied that they weren’t.

However, couples who use the natural method of family planning in a loving unselfish way, tell of the closeness it brings to their relationship.(Kate - An anecedotal example?)  Periods of abstinence have the effect of making their intimate time more special and joyful.  In contrast, women (and those on the pill particularly so) often complain about having to be ever-ready for their husband, to the extent that they feel used, not having any real reason to say no. This takes its toll on the marriage, leading the man or woman or both to seek love elsewhere.  After all, it’s in our human nature to appreciate something more when we can’t have it all the time.  The women also express resentment that it is they who have to pump their body full of artificial hormones, along with the attendant risks. . In addition, increased irritability, depression, weight gain and decreased libido were some of the more commonly reported side effects.

Furthermore, very few people realise that many of the most common forms of contraception (such as the contraceptive pill and coil) act as abortifacients.  Dr Philip Ney, a world renowned researcher of pregnancy loss, has scientific evidence that at the moment of conception the mother and child begin to communicate on a hormonal level, and that this information is permanently recorded on the mother’s brain.  Susan Gliko (of Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortive healing retreats) also says, “I have known women who almost supernaturally are aware of children lost to contraception.  They grieve like any mother who has lost a child, and I believe their grief should be honoured.”

Many of those I have come into contact with were unaware of the dignity and beauty of their God-given gift to be co-creators with Him in bringing new life into the world. They were of a mindset that their fertility was totally theirs to control. Their use of contraceptives automatically meant they were not open to life.

It becomes more and more obvious that peace and happiness are the fruits of respecting God’s plan for the beautiful and precious gift of our human sexuality.