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He says he won't use condoms on our honeymoon, even though I don't want to get pregnant.

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Cassandra asks:

My boyfriend and I have been dating well over a year and we have talked about getting married. He said that on the honeymoon he is not going to wear a condom. I, however, want him to because I don't want to get pregnant right away. I know that you won't get pregnant right away every time, but I don't want to take the chance. I have told him this, yet he still insists on not wearing one. Basically I'm asking how can I change his mind or get him to see it from my point of view?

Heather Corinna replies:

If he refuses to change his mind, then this isn't someone to marry, or even stay with anymore. Legally and emotionally tying yourself to someone who doesn't give you a voice both in the kind of sex you have and when you become pregnant is legally and emotionally tying yourself to a kind of sexual and reproductive slavery, to be blunt.

No, women don't tend to become pregnant EVERY time they have unprotected sex. But unprotected sex poses a high risk of pregnancy, so women who do NOT want to become pregnant at any given time shouldn't be taking a risk with such high consequences, especially when you consider that asking a guy to use a condom isn't asking him to risk anything at all, and guys should not be dictating any sort of reproductive choice for women. It's not their body -- and even if you marry them, it is STILL not their body, as marriage doesn't (well, in most places, it doesn't anymore, though some people still seem to think it does) mean they own you -- it's yours.

Do you know the origin of the name you have or used here? In Greek mythology Cassandra had a great gift of prophecy or foresight, and saw things like the fall of Troy in advance of them happening. She was often disbelieved, even though her foresight was dead-on.

If already, you're seeing a partner who is showing you that he doesn't really care about your risks or your preferences when it comes to YOU becoming pregnant, and who you have to argue with, at all, to be respected in that way, you're seeing a big warning sign in advance you should probably pay heed to.

Really, the way couples should be talking about birth control -- and the way men do talk about it who respect their female partners -- should be a "we" not an "I."

In other words, the kind of discussion you SHOULD be having (though it's a bit premature to talk about honeymoon sex when you're not literally planning a wedding that's happening soon) about family planning and birth control with a male partner involves him asking YOU, the person who would become pregnant, what YOU are okay with, and asking YOU when and if you want to become pregnant or parent. If you have a preference for one kind of birth control and it's condoms, then you put that out there and the two of you discuss it. Now, if for some reason, he just has some huge issue with condoms (even though they are the method of birth control for both men and women with the least side effects and which intrude the least upon either person's body, sexually and otherwise), it's certainly fair for him to say that he'd like to talk about the two of you considering a different METHOD of birth control with you. But if he's just plain saying he is going without birth control, no matter what you want, and that's just that, he's not being a partner who is treating you as an equal: he's being a dictator treating you as a subject. No male partner should be disallowing their female partner to have 100% choice in when and if she wants to become pregnant. With any limit or boundary you've got, be it condoms, pregnancy or something else, if he's refusing to let you have a hard limit, he's just bad news, girl.

If you want to give this conversation one last shot, you might try saying something like this:

If we are going to not only get married but stay together at all, I need you to respect my limits and boundaries, and that includes when I am and am not willing to become pregnant or risk becoming pregnant. If you feel like you don't want to use condoms as a method of birth control, specifically, if we get married, then if and when we get to that point, I'm certainly willing to talk about other methods we might be able to use. But all of these things are things we discuss TOGETHER -- not things YOU decide -- or which *I* decide, because you're not the one who could get pregnant, I am. You don't get to insist on doing things for yourself for which I pay the price. And if you want me to even think about marrying you, we won't ever have a conversation like this again, because I don't want to marry someone who doesn't treat me with respect and equal care.

Certainly, that's a bit hard-line, and you should tailor as you need to, but I'd say that's about the heart of it. I'd also say that if you can't be hard-line with a partner when it comes to issues that will effect your life and body forever -- and don't effect his body at all, and may not even effect his life -- then you're either not with the right partner, or not in the right space to be in a partnership. And if he can't deal with that, or doesn't give your words and feelings the great weight he should, I'd advise you not only to not even consider this guy for marriage, I'd suggest you show him the door right NOW.

You might also find this piece handy for getting an idea of how men really should be dealing with birth control and family planning: Hey, Boyfriend! Male Reproductive Choices.

written 14 Nov 2007 . updated 22 Jan 2014

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