Dear Miss Emily:

My husband and I have been together over 20 years now, with two young boys under the age of 10. We have both agreed we are done having children, and he has told me over the past 5 years that he is going to have a vasectomy, but he still has not done it. After a pregnancy scare this past summer, I insisted that he could not put it off any longer and literally begged him to have it done. That was 4 months ago, and he still hasn't made any attempt to do this for me – for us! He has come up with every excuse under the sun why he keeps putting it off, but my patience has reached its end. Six weeks ago, I told him that I was not going to have sex with him until he makes an appt., but I'm afraid that's backfired since he doesn't seem to care at all that we're not having sex and it's driving me crazy. It's gotten so bad that I am considering leaving him, since I feel that his refusal to do this only spells out the fact that if he truly loved me, he would do this for me since I know if the tables were turned, I would do it for him. Should I really let our marriage fail over this, or should I just accept the fact that I may have to go through major surgery to avoid any more pregnancies? I am at my wit's end! I love my husband, but can't help feeling he's not in love with me if he's willing to let me go instead of just getting this minor outpatient procedure done and over with.

--------------------------Miss Emily’s advice--------------------

Dear Bummed:

It may be that your husband loves you, but when it comes to this issue, he loves himself more.  I think he’s scared to get snipped and he doesn’t want you in on the truth.  He could also be hearing a primal voice telling him he could no longer have children with another woman if you were to fall of the face of the earth. But, of course, you and I know that it’s not only a simple procedure and, in most cases, can be reversed.  His trepidation, however,  is no reason to throw the marriage into the dumper, because you have two children, you love him and, I think, he loves you.  Unfortunately, you have created a stalemate and false pride is rearing its ugly head. This is a big deal, and I’m not trying to underplay it, but it’s a problem with a solution.  I would sit him down and say that you are through trying to work this out by alienating him, because you now know that it’s a deeper, emotional matter with him than you were willing to face.  Ask him (like a friend might) to be honest with you about his reservations. Offer to get a brochure on the procedure, but tell him he is under no obligation to follow through.  If he gets defensive and dismisses you without listening and opening up about his concerns, then you have bigger problems with him than his rebellion over having a vasectomy.  If this is true, you need to seek counseling with or without him.  If it boils down to him being just plain scared, ask your doctor about using alternative birth control and chalk this up to a man who fears having the sacred tampered with, and that makes him a member of a big club.  If he’s a decent, good guy in all other ways, you're going to just have to get over it for everyone's sake.