Is this a deliberate and HUGE overstep of mother-in-law boundaries?
My husband and I spent countless hours deciding whether or not we should be done having kids. The reasons for deciding that it was time for my husband to get a vasectomy were many: financial stress, previous miscarriages, my experience with postpartum depression. They were also deeply personal.
But that didn't stop my mother-in-law from adding in her two cents when she rifled through the vasectomy paperwork sitting on our desk (you know, when she arrived at our house unannounced and let herself in when she found we weren't home).
My mother-in-law, a devout Catholic, took my husband aside and told him he needed to look into what the church had to say about vasectomies. But my husband and I, both decidedly non-religious, already knew what the church has to say about having a vasectomy.
The Catholic church forbids birth control of all types. (No condoms, no pills, no dental dams, no sponges, no spermicide, no IUDs, no hormonal patch or implantation, no tubal litigation, no vasectomy, no nothing.) Natural family planning is the only way. It's one of many reasons I'm NOT Catholic anymore.
I rolled my eyes when my husband told me about his mother's indiscretion but decided I could forgive her for her verbal vomit upon finding the vasectomy paperwork. I understand her religion is deeply important to her, and it's hard for her to see her children not following the laws of the church.
But the next week, she decided to take it a step further and give my husband a "present" behind my back: a book on "natural" sex and why the teachings of the church against birth control are so important in keeping a strong marriage. This was no accident or slip of tongue; this was a deliberate and huge overstep of mother-in-law boundaries.
Having strong personal beliefs which you adhere to is fine — but trying to decide what reproductive choices are right for me and my family? That isn't OK by any stretch of the imagination.
My mother-in-law completely sidestepped me and felt that since it was her child undergoing the surgery, it was her business. She never asked how I felt about it. She never considered why we chose this path instead of another. Instead of opening up a dialogue, her actions told my husband he was wrong and told me that my needs didn't matter.
I'm able to decide when I'm done having kids. I've had three children and two miscarriages. I've struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression. I've wrestled long and hard with the decisions I've made in regard to motherhood.
The decision to be done having children wasn't an easy one to make. It's a choice that has been a long time in the making, a choice that my husband and I finally settled on when we knew it was the best option for our whole family.
So to suggest that I haven't weighed my options carefully enough was an insult. I'm a grown woman, capable of making sound decisions when it comes to my reproductive choices. I couldn't care less what the church has to say about birth control. The church doesn't get to decide when I'm done having kids.
The theologian who wrote Sex Au Naturel doesn't get to tell me what to do in the bedroom. And guess what? My mother-in-law sure as hell doesn't get a say, either.
Long-story short: My husband quietly went forward with his vasectomy and we're both tremendously happy about it. We were left with no trace of indecision when the time came, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the right choice.
My mother-in-law, however, still doesn't know. We've been careful to hide any evidence and told her my husband suffered a running injury when she came by to find him limping around the house post-surgery. Even if she never finds out, I'll l forever feel her judgment hanging over our relationship.
She thinks my choices are sinful and that my way of family planning is wrong. Her adherence to the rules of the church completely trumps the needs of my family, and sadly, that's a gap I fear we'll never be able to bridge.