How To Talk To Your Partner About Getting A Vasectomy
...without getting in an argument.
So, you’ve officially reached the point in your life where you know you don’t want to have anymore (or any) children. In order to continue having a healthy sex life with your partner, you need to rely on some form of birth control. If you don’t want to continue taking hormonal birth control, like the pill, and you’re not comfortable relying on condoms, then asking your partner to get a vasectomy seems like the pretty obvious solution. And honestly, it is! But even though a vasectomy is a simple and reversible surgery, asking your partner to get one can be a struggle.
There’s no getting around the fact that asking your partner to get a vasectomy is going to be an emotional conversation. A vasectomy, which involves cutting the supply of sperm to semen so that a person can no longer impregnate another, is a sensitive subject for many people. But it’s also an effective form of birth control: it’s a simple procedure, there are almost no side effects, and it can even be reversed down the line if you guys change your mind.
In fact, it can seem like such an obvious solution that you might feel resentful that your partner is weary about it, especially if you’ve had trouble taking hormonal birth control. That’s understandable, but at the end of the day, your partner has to make this decision about their body. As their partner, it’s important for you to be supportive of their feelings and to approach the conversation gently. If you’re both willing to listen to each other and be understanding of how the other one feels, you can have a mature discussion that can hopefully lead to a solution everyone is happy with.
How To Approach The Vasectomy Topic With Your Partner
Before you bring a vasectomy up to your partner, make sure you know exactly what you want to say. Kimberly Panganibon, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Romper that doing some work on your end before the actual conversation is crucial. “By this I mean figuring out how you feel about the topic, why it is important to you, and what you need,” she explains. “After you have sorted through your own thoughts, feelings, and needs, it is best to let your partner know that you have something important you need to discuss with them and ask when would be a good time for them to talk.”
Timing is everything here. “Bring up the conversation gently at a time that you can focus on the conversation,” Panganibon says. Talking about this in the privacy of your own home when neither of you are busy or around your kids is best. Panganibon suggests finding a time when neither of you are stressed or in a bad mood, and when you’re least likely to be interrupted.
Go into the conversation with an open mind, rather than with the mindset of, “This is happening whether he likes it or not.” This should be a discussion, not an argument. “Be willing to listen to your partner and validate their feelings, even if they are different from your own,” Panganibon says. “It is important that you both feel heard and understood before even beginning to talk about what you will actually do.”
So, how do you say, “I want you to have a vasectomy” in a gentle way? Panganibon recommends the “gentle start-up,” which is an approach created by The Gottman Institute. “The Gentle Start-Up follows these steps: (1) I feel... (2) About what... (3) I need...,” Panganibon explains. “If you have done the work identifying your feelings and needs, this should be a relatively simple process. For example, you may say, ‘I feel concerned about the possibility of accidentally getting pregnant and I need us to talk about ways we can prevent that.’”
How To Talk About A Vasectomy If Your Partner Shuts Down
Your partner will likely respond in one of three ways: they’ll be open and accepting of the idea, they’ll be unsure, or they’ll get annoyed and kind of shut you out. If they immediately say no to a vasectomy, but they’re also willing to listen, don’t be afraid to push a bit more. “Share why this is so important to you and what it would mean for your partner to be open to doing this,” Panganibon says. “Then be curious about their feelings and needs and help them feel heard as well.”
If your partner gets mad, shuts down, and refuses to even discuss it, that’s when an argument can begin. In this case, Panganibon recommends giving them some space to think things through before bringing it up again rather than trying to continue the conversation. “In that time, work on identifying what your core need is around this situation — i.e. why this is so important — and identify if there are any other potential ways of getting your core needs met,” she says.
After giving them time, bring it up again. Panganibon says to make that next discussion more about trying to understand one another rather than trying to talk them into something. “Stay away from problem-solving for a bit and move into curiosity and understanding,” she says. Be patient, and really try to get to the root of the issue. Don’t push the issue, and don’t try to rush through it. In time, you guys will likely be able to figure something out.