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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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."
Or, take this gem:
Too bad she learned this lesson in maturity too late to save her first marriage.
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)
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.