Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Mean, Come On, Guys!

Just the other night I was telling Darwin that maybe I wanted a break from blogging. I'm kinda feeling over the internet, and also feeling like I don't really have all that much to talk about. But I had to laugh as I pulled the Wall Street Journal out of the wrapping yesterday. Sometimes a topic comes along that really just writes itself.

The feature article in the Personal Journal section was The Birth-Control Riddle: Fifty Years after the Pill's Debut, almost Half of all Pregnancies in the U.S are Unplanned.

Yet despite all these options, the rates of unplanned pregnancies remain high: Almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S.—some 3.1 million a year—are unintended, according to the most recent government survey, from 2001. One out of every two American women aged 15 to 44 has at least one unplanned pregnancy in her lifetime. Among unmarried women in their 20s, seven out of 10 pregnancies are unplanned.

An updated version of those numbers from the 2006 National Survey of Family Growth is expected to be released next month. But population experts don't anticipate much change; the rate of unplanned pregnancy was the same in 1994, and smaller studies have found that even newer birth-control methods haven't made much of a dent.

Why are the numbers so high?

The answer is a complex tangle of cultural, religious, behavioral, educational and economic factors. Many of those unplanned pregnancies become wanted babies. About a million are aborted each year and others are miscarried.

Almost half (48%) of unintended pregnancies involve contraceptive failures. In 52% of the cases, couples used no birth control at all. (Emphasis mine.)
I have to say that even if I felt so inclined to use contraception, what would be the point? Thanks to knowing NFP, I know when my fertile periods are, and I'd be too worried about the contraception failing to feel comfortable using it then.

At first I had a knee-jerk irritable reaction to the fact that article made practically no mention of Natural Family Planning, but by the end I was glad not to have it lumped in with the other methods. Because NFP may involve family planning, but what it is not is contraception. Here, a money quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the subject:
2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
But we have not exhausted the riches of the WSJ in regards to making relationships work. On the other side of the marital behavioral spectrum, we have Honey, Do You Have To...?, an article about the little peevish things one's spouse does. It holds an instructive reminder that the jerks you shall have always with you.

When Jim Caudill's first wife sat him down and explained that she wanted a divorce, she had a long list of complaints: He didn't help enough with the kids. He didn't do his share of the housework. They were more devoted to work than to each other.

Then she brought up the English muffins. "She said, 'You never butter them to the edges, you just pat it in the middle,'" says Mr. Caudill, a 59-year-old winery marketing representative in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Mr. Caudill was stunned. But gradually, the message sunk in. "The weight of a small thing can be onerous," he says. "It's a symptom of a larger need."

OMG. She's talking about ripping apart a family and reneging on her vows, and to support this she brings in... the English muffins? Talk about moral seriousness.

Or, take this gem:

The dishwasher was a sticking point in Vige Barrie's first marriage. She says her husband often left his dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter, a habit that so infuriated her she even brought it up with their marriage counselor. "It was beyond me that he couldn't get his hand in gear to deliver a dirty dish a few inches over to the dishwasher," says Ms. Barrie, 57, who works in media relations at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. "Was I a maid?"

Ms. Barrie, who has since divorced and remarried, was dismayed to find that her second husband also leaves his dirty dishes in the sink. But she says she has finally learned to take it in stride. "By the time you marry a second time, you grow up," she says. "I realized how important it was to have a partner for the big life stuff and that the little life stuff ruins the present moment."(emphasis mine)

Too bad she learned this lesson in maturity too late to save her first marriage.

And if it turns out that it wasn't really that important, that other factors ruined the first marriage, then why even bring it up? I pondered this as I remembered sitting listening to another woman complain about her husband's similar habit. Here is a lady who considers herself to be in a very happy marriage, I thought, and yet why does she find it necessary to tell everyone about this dumb little trait of her husband's? What's the point of running him down like that, especially if it will simply make you focus on the small things that irritate you, instead of all the qualities about him that you rightly admire? Why deliberately rip holes in the seams of your marriage?

More to the point: let him who is without sin cast the first stone. For every complaint a woman can make about her husband, the husband can doubtless match in kind. (And vice versa.) But that kind of tit-for-tat beefing is hardly conducive to maintaining a strong mature relationship. Pulling the log out of one's own eye is usually a good starting point for marital happiness.

And I'm off, to do the dishes. For my husband, not at him.


Barb said...

So did Jim Caudill help with the children and the housework more AFTER she divorced him?
It all does boggle my mind...

Robyn Broyles said...

Lying with statistics! Apparently in an attempt to suggest we need to do "better" at promoting birth control. The unplanned pregnancy rate is NOT that high; the ratio of unplanned to planned pregnancies is high.

Actually I take exception to the term "unplanned pregnancy" in the first place... only a rape/incest victim can really claim a pregnancy was unplanned. I mean, if you're doing the deed, you need to know that the likelihood of a resulting pregnancy is greater than 0. That's why I watch that show "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant." It's like watching a car crash or something: I just can't turn away from that kind of stupidity, ignorance, and/or denial (though a few of the women actually have good justification for not knowing).

BettyDuffy said...

My mom sent me home the other day with this section of the Journal, and I enjoyed reading it last night. MAtter of fact, I was surprised to find that it was pretty balanced in presenting the negative side effects of contraception. They left out any mention of a breast cancer connection, of course, but I finished the article with a complete sense of gratitude that I don't have to worry about all that stuff. Really, compared to IUD's embedded in my uterus, or bacteria spreading into my fallopian tubes, infertility, weight gain, depression, lower sex drive, user error and yadda yadda, it's way more appealing to just get pregnant.

Karie, the Regular Guy's Extraordinary Wife said...

Thanks for this post Mrs. D - While reading this post for my hubby, with the accompanying snorts, giggles and my own "OMGs", my hubby is doing the dishes that I forgot to do last night. What a man!

Class factotum said...

I used to get bugged that my husband would do certain things, like wipe his splashed with water but not washed with soap face on the white bath towel, which would dirty the towel. I would nag him not to do it (along with a few other things), but I realized that I was being petty and that all I had to do was wash the towels more frequently.

We are both control freaks, but being with him is more important to me than the towels. Towels are made for man, not the other way around.

mrsdarwin said...

Towels are made for man, not the other way around.

That is the sentiment upon which so many happy marriages are founded, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Mrs. Darwin. I think one of the reasons my marriage is strong after nearly 14 years is that we don't sweat the small stuff and I never, NEVER run him down to others.