Friday, February 22, 2019

Two Married Couples

Two stories

Contraception’s disintegration of marital harmony


Tom and Mary

Tom and Mary*, a young married Catholic couple from N. Ireland, always believed contraception was wrong.  However, through a culmination of misfortunes, family difficulties, financial pressures, long working hours, separation from friends and the tragic loss of a preborn child, they resorted to contraception. 

Here is their experience:

 TOM: “Our child dying was the final nail.  It killed my faith in God.  We turned to contraception… Our sexual relationship changed from an act of marital union to a lust-filled activity.  I saw intercourse as satisfying my urge and desire for pleasure.  I no longer saw my wife as a person – I lost respect for her – I started looking at other women – I saw pornography as OK – I saw it as helping my sex life”.

MARY: “During that time I felt really low, really cheap.  There was no communication, no hugging.  It was all about sex.  It wasn’t love; it was horrible.  My self-confidence plummeted.  When we started using contraception, a lot changed, even our personalities.  I started to feel bad towards Tom; I could see him change and I didn’t like the person he was becoming.  I knew how he felt about me.  I became horrible to him.  We had a lot of arguments and our marriage became emotional and aggressive”.

TOM: “I found myself thinking about other women during our love-making – Mary wasn’t even ‘there’.  I knew she wasn’t enjoying it but I didn’t care.  Normal sex had become boring so one starts to explore other ways for the thrill.  The act was over very quickly – Mary was left there not feeling good.  I was satisfied and that was the main thing.  We had five healthy kids, I wanted a good sex life and no hassle.  Condoms were awkward, so – on bad advice - I signed up for a vasectomy”.

MARY: “The rot started in the intimate area of our marriage and spread into other areas.  For me, it was the use of contraception that killed off my faith.  At one point, I thought our marriage couldn’t last.  I knew he didn’t care for me and I was falling out of love with him. Most women want affection and there was none.  I remember really wanting some affection.  I began to think of getting it with ‘someone else’.  We were two horrible people to be with.  We both started to think of separation.  But I so wanted to save our marriage”

TOM: “The sin was blinding me.  I didn’t want to see it.  I stopped caring, got lazy, watched a lot of material on TV that I shouldn’t have.  I bought sleazy newspapers – I didn’t think anything was wrong with it.  I was listening to all this bravado man-talk at work and coming home to act it out at night.  For the first time I started to feel free from the ‘binds’ of Catholicism.  There was no communication between us”.

MARY: “I started to think of how happier we were in our earlier days when we had tried NFP.  I thought contraception was bringing us misfortune.  I cried out to God for help.  ‘We can’t live like this any longer.  We need support.  We need friends.’   I broke down and wept…”

Gerard and Marie’s Story

Now consider the real life experience of Gerard and Marie, a husband and wife in Ireland, who started using the pill and found their marriage starting to deteriorate:

GERARD: “We had three pregnancies in eighteen months!  “Hold on!” I said. “ This has to stop!”

MARIE: “There were endless nappies and finances were very tight.  When we went on the contraceptive pill, we were delirious with delight.  Pure unabated freedom!!  No responsibility!  We embarked on a new intoxicating liberty.  It was fabulous.  We could turn our fertility on and off.  Then we had another child – now we had the ‘perfect’ family - two boys, two girls.   WE were in control”.

When the procreative power is removed, something fundamentally changes in the nature of the relationship.

GERARD: “But after a couple of years, things had definitely changed. I’d grown bored with all this intercourse.  I no longer desired or looked forward to it.  From one month to the next, I didn’t care whether it happened or not.  My wife was using the pill all through this time”.

MARIE: “My husband would get into bed at night to read and I’d lie there feeling rejected.  He’d say to me: “maybe tomorrow night”.  The fact you could have intercourse every night meant it lost its specialness”.

GERARD: “I was thinking to myself; ‘Something is amiss here.  But I wouldn’t speak about it.  I was afraid to face up to it in case it made things worse.  There was a widening rift – a breakdown in communication – but I wouldn’t talk about it.  I thought this was only a phase and that it would pass.  I loved my wife and I knew she loved me.  But it didn’t pass.  At this time there was a serious temptation to think about other women during our intimate moments.  Looking back at that time, I now realise how easy it is to fall into that trap during contraceptive use”.

MARIE: “There was this sense of looking for fulfilment elsewhere. We were developing different interests.  The intimate part of our marriage seemed to be dying.  As parents we were still completely involved, but we each were swift to agree to activities outside the home...committees, night classes, sport.  We didn’t feel important to one another anymore. Then one night at a meeting a woman said: “Contraception puts a barrier between you and your husband and between you and God”.  That hit a chord.  There was a barrier between us. I knew it was true.  We went to a married couples retreat weekend called Marriage Encounter… 

*Names have been changed for personal reasons