When your husband has a vasectomy without telling you, you’ll feel a variety of painful emotions. Here’s how to cope with your emotions, and tips for responding to your husband’s decision. I wrote this article in response to a reader’s question…
“I’m 35, married to my 52 yr. old husband who had a vasectomy after having three children in a previous marriage,” says K. on 6 Signs Your Marriage is Over – and How to Cope With the Future. “I didn’t know about his vasectomy and was on contraception for three years when we were living together. His eldest daughter told me about his vasectomy by accident when we were engaged, nearly married. I feel shocked and betrayed, especially because I was taking birth control pills! How do I cope with his secret vasectomy?”
There are no easy answers – especially if you want to have children with your husband. Rebuilding trust in your marriage takes time and effort, but you can save your relationship if you both are willing to do the work. It’s important to remember that learning how to trust your husband after he has a vasectomy without your knowledge depends on several different relationship and personal factors. And, you may need to talk to a counselor or marriage coach to get your feelings sorted out. Here are a few tips to get you started…
Coping with fertility problems that were caused by a secret vasectomy involves two big things:
If your husband isn’t willing or able to reverse his vasectomy, you have to grieve the end of your dreams of having children. You might find How to Recover From Loss and Survive Grief helpful – but you also have to give yourself time.
And, you need to learn how to forgive your husband. Read How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To by Janis Spring. It’s a bold and healing book offers step-by-step, concrete instructions that help us make peace with others and with ourselves.
Normally, forgiveness would be my first tip on rebuilding trust. But in K’s case, it seems like working out her marriage, reconnecting with her fiance, and coping with the possibility of living without her own biological children is first on the agenda.
How to Cope With Your Husband’s Secret Vasectomy
Here’s more of K’s story:
“I nearly fainted, I was so shocked and hurt by the news. I am committed to my husband but am left feeling empty and jealous that my husband gets to be a father to his three (teenage) children. IVF is too expensive for us to even start. Why I can’t live my dream of being a parent? Although I respect his time with his kids, it’s so hard to constantly watch him with them at birthdays and holidays. I’m scared I’m going to feel worse as I get older and as his kids have kids of their own! Any tips on how to survive this? And, I’d be interested to hear of anyone else’s similar circumstances.”
K. is facing a double whammy: 1) her husband kept his vasectomy secret from her, and deliberately set her up to live a lie (not to mention letting her take unnecessary birth control for three years); and 2) she has to cope with the prospect of not having children.
If you’re in the same situation – or a similar one – here are a few things to think about. If your husband is willing to have his vasectomy reversed, read 5 Natural and Healthy Foods That Will Boost His Sperm Count.
Allow yourself to consider all your options…even divorce
K. chose to marry her husband even after she found out he had a vasectomy. She loves him and wants to build a life together, so she went through with the wedding. If she wants to stay married to him, she needs to learn how to live with the things that make her unhappy.
Or, she could choose to leave him and find a man who does want a family – and who wouldn’t lie to her about his vasectomy. This option requires a great deal of strength and courage…but it is possible. Read Is it Time to Break Up? How to Know for Sure for help.
Forgive your husband for having the vasectomy
It doesn’t sound like K. resents or is angry at her husband for lying to her about the vasectomy…it sounds like she’s more focused on mourning her shattered dreams of having children. Resentment and bitterness may come later. As she said, she may feel worse after his children have kids of their own. If she feels and holds on to anger, bitterness, or resentment that he lied about his vasectomy, she’ll set herself up for physical and emotional health problems.
So, whether she stays with him or not, she needs to forgive him for lying to her. Again, books like How to Forgive When You Can’t can change how you see your husband, yourself, and your marriage.
Take responsibility for your life – stop being a passive observer
K is young enough to have children. If I were talking to her, I would say, “You were betrayed and lied to. You deserve to be treated better than that. Why did you marry a man who lied to you, who kept his vasectomy a secret? What is it about you that keeps you tied to this man?”
Why are you letting yourself be the victim, the passive observer of your own life?
Stop wondering why you can’t live your dream of being a mother, of being scared about feeling worse about your life and childlessness as time goes by, of watching your husband interact with his kids, and letting the fact that he lied to you eat you from the inside out. Stop swallowing your pain and heartache.
Start digging into who you are as a strong, independent, courageous, smart, healthy woman! If you don’t feel strong or courageous, get help. Go for counseling, read books like This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down (one of my all-time favorite books for getting strong, motivated, and healthy).
Discuss your options for having kids with your husband
The good news is that vasectomies are reversible…and the bad news is that a 52 year old man who has grown children and who kept his vasectomy a secret for years probably doesn’t want to reverse the operation.
But, it’s still worth talking about! Why doesn’t he want kids? Is he willing to reconsider? What about adoption, sperm donation, fostering? If he absolutely refuses to have children and you really want them, then you need to re-read the last tip: stop being a passive observer in your own life. You have to choose between him and your dreams…it won’t be easy, but it will be the most fulfilling, empowering thing you ever do.
If your husband refuses to have kids and you’re determined to stay married, read How to Be Happy as a Childless Woman – Single or Married.
Help Coping With Your Husband’s Secret Vasectomy
In Marriage: The Secret To Rebuilding Trust, Intimacy, and Connection in Your Marriage, Karen Johnson guides readers on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.
This book isn’t just about what marriage is – and how to rebuild trust after a secret has been shared. You’ll learn the honest truths behind the beautiful façade of a wedding of two seemingly happy people. Being a spouse is not an easy job – especially after you learn that your husband had a vasectomy without you knowing! But if you want to stay married, your job as a wife is to stay in love and rebuild trust.
You might also want to read 6 Ways to Deal With Your Husband’s Past Secrets and Relationships. I wrote it for one of the readers who shared her story of her husband’s vasectomy in the comments section below.
I welcome your thoughts on coping with broken trust in a marriage, caused by a husband’s secret vasectomy. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but you may find that writing helps you work through your pain and even start the healing process.