Reddit’s beloved AITA (Am I The Asshole?) posts are known for inspiring rousing Internet conversations and teeing up some ethical head-scratchers for us all to consider (along with stories of unhinged MILs, rude co-workers and “Dump him, please” nightmare stories). But sometimes the dilemma posed doesn’t have such a clear “yes, YTA” or “NTA” answer. There’s nuance in every story and encounter, but reproductive health issues can really ask us to think longer and harder about the right way to behave and how to do right by the people we care about.
In a case of a post from Thursday, a 40-year-old dad of three kids decided he wanted a vasectomy and got the procedure. He just didn’t tell his wife of 15 years — the mother of his kids — and wants to know if the “sneaky” move was really all that bad.
When it comes to AITA posts, there’s always shades of assholery at play: There’s the action, which in a vacuum, is pretty neutral and then there’s the conditions, environmental factors that can turn it into a dick move. Is it fundamentally wrong to want a procedure, make a decision about your reproductive future and follow through? No. Never. It’s your body and your potential offspring and you have every right to say “I am good and done, thank you, love you!”
Is it hurtful and a bit more complicated when you do it in secret, don’t tell your partner or attempt explain your decision to approach the situation honestly and openly? Yeah. That makes it harder to absolve and resolve right away.
Ultimately, whether the OP’s wife takes issue with his decision or not, it’s not her choice to make. (Bodily autonomy is for everyone!) But when you have a long, child-rearing partnership with someone and, at least as far as she understands it, a shared reproductive past, present and future, you do want to operate in a way that recognizes and respects that dynamic. You don’t need to agree and you don’t need to act in a way that prioritizes her wants or feelings over your own (same goes for her, if the situation was reversed) — but you do owe it to your partnership and everything you’ve built together to share the honesty and have whatever dialogues that come with it. Making a choice that closes out certain reproductive options for you as a pair for the foreseeable is something that ideally you can share and ride out together.
Besides, your partner may have reasons for wanting that reproductive option that you may find worth hearing — and they may benefit (and better understand where you’re coming from) by hearing your POV on the subject too.