We can't handle more children

Last updated 05:00 04/07/2012

Andrew's wife wants to get pregnant, but he doesn't think they can handle a fifth child. How can he take back control of his life?

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Dear Chris,

About four years ago, my wife and I converted to Catholicism. She demanded that I have my vasectomy reversed, which I did. However, she is opposed to using any form of birth control and is actually hoping to get pregnant.

We have four children ages 13, 12, 11, and 9 (10 in August) and money is very tight right now. We're renting a home, have bad credit, and have absolutely no savings in the bank. 

She homeschools our kids and even picks out their clothes for the day (usually dressing our three boys in identical outfits). 

She gets up at 4am every morning to go to the gym and on her return, it's off to church. This is every single day. 

Close friends who know about the situation say that I need to stand up to her. But I don't know what to say. 

She does everything and I just have to worry about my job. But I don't think that we could handle another child and I don't know what to do. 

I've tried talking to her, but she will not listen. What should I do?


I think you are right to be reaching out and seeking help as this doesn't sound like a very desirable situation for any of you.

You are raising a number of concerns, but most importantly it sounds as if you have lost your sense of being part of really important decisions for yourself, your relationship and your children. 

"Just having to worry about your job" implies that somehow you have handed over responsibility to your wife, and while you are clear you do not want another child, so far you haven't found a way of feeling like you have an equal say in such an important decision.

I am curious to know if the issues you are concerned about have always been present in the relationship or has it been more since the time of your conversion to Catholicism? 

When I hear about the early morning rising, attention to exact details and daily rituals of the children being dressed the same, it leaves me wondering if there is some underlying anxiety or mental health issue your wife is dealing with.

It may be worth you gently talking with her about whether she has become more fearful or anxious over the past few years, and seeking some reassurance from your local GP about this.

Whatever the reason for the current situation, it seems you need to figure out a way of having more of a say in how you participate in shaping your family life.

Your friends are right in encouraging you to take a stand for your own wellbeing and for your relationship and children's sake, and the first step is to let your wife know you want to make some changes to how the two of you make decisions.

You might need to acknowledge that you have been happy for a long while to leave things over to her. Be clear about what issues you want to tackle. From the concerns you describe, I would strongly urge you to get the help from someone you can trust.

Do check they are skilled at working with couples, and make sure you will be able to express your concerns with whoever you choose to help.

By writing in, you are making a stand for something to be different and you are clearly worried about what will happen if you all have another pregnancy to deal with.  

I do encourage you to take the next step and start making some changes for you and your family. I wish you well.

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

Post a comment
pctek   #1   06:15 am Jul 04 2012

Catholics. She needs to go overseas and see what 7 billion people - and counting - is doing. The population doesn't increase anymore, it compounds. Most people live in hovels surrounded by filth and rubbish. Brilliant.

Michael   #2   06:45 am Jul 04 2012

From reading the article title I was going to say the number of kids is a value/emotion judgement so a difficult point to talk about with your wife...

...and then the details of the story make it an almost no win scenario. Strong Cathlocism? Obsessive compulsive attention to detail? At some point those teenagers will rebel, strongly.

So I will back the advice given - you need help from an outside party. It doesn't sound like she will listen to you, or to logic.

Can you get relationship support services from the Catholic Church? Unless its religion based I get the feeling she will ignore any advice..

Leon   #3   07:35 am Jul 04 2012

Are you a man or a mouse?

Sounds like she has taken over your life, and you need to actually take some of it back.

Or, this is simply a completely fabricated story, because it stretches credibility to the limit.

Crusadist   #4   07:49 am Jul 04 2012

This is a personality issue but that wont stop the torrent of comments who solely focus on her religious beliefs.

Mel   #5   08:10 am Jul 04 2012

Go and get a vasectomy. Don't bring anymore kids into this scenario.

liz   #6   08:11 am Jul 04 2012

Common logic dictates not to have children unless you can afford them. If she can't accept that then it might be secret vasectomy time. With 4 children already under her belt...she is just acting selfishly in demanding more. Could be time to start setting some ultimatums and getting your power in the relationship back

Neil   #7   08:14 am Jul 04 2012

Crusadist #4 ... some would argue that overly intense religious embodiment is a personality issue/disorder. sounds like this guy needs to stand up to his wife and take some control.

Sniffles   #8   08:16 am Jul 04 2012

Just go and get the vasectomy done again. It's your body and your life. I feel there's more to this story - does she have mental health issues? And I'm surprised your kids at their ages let their mother dress them, especially all the same. There's something weird going on here that doesn't quite ring true.

Susanne   #9   08:19 am Jul 04 2012

Clearly he is only telling half the story. It costs money to reverse a vesectamy, if you are in a bad situation financially then why would you spend money on this when you had no intention of having kids. Sounds like you have backed out of the deal and that is why she is upset. she sounds committed to having kids, maybe that is why she is going to the gym each morning so she is physically fit to carry a child and maybe a baby is what she prays for everyday at church. The time to say no to baby was before reversing the vasectomy rather than waste family money that could have been spent on clearing debts or the expense of having 4 kids. I can totally understand you wife's frustrations. If she home schools and the oldest is 10, then she is basically facing the end of her homeschooling career, how would you feel if someone said you had to leave your career in a few years. I don't agree with people having kids they can't afford but spending money on a vasectmy when you don't want more kids is like buying a trip to Disneyland, not going and then taking years to pay back the debt. Really really stupid! I suggest you both see a budgeter as if you don't have money you don't go to the gym, the gym is expensive. Buy a exercise video and she can do that each morning, or jog, with 4 kids I'm sure part of their homeschooling routine could be some exercise, running, netball passes using the local schools hoops, backyard soccer, bush walking things that can be done very cheap or for free. Learn to be more sensible with money!

JessL   #10   08:22 am Jul 04 2012

*A round of applause please!!

Finally a parent who is considering the financial implications BEFORE having more children.

Go and talk to a third party, you need to have equal power in the realationship. Presumably at one point she wanted you to have that vasectomy - so get it back! Or stop having sex until she agrees to go on birth control. If you cannot afford another child, don't have one.

Also I would step in with the children a little more - sounds like they are getting a little too much mum time - how are they going to grow into independent adults unless you teach them?

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