I am just giving my humble opinion here. I am not a therapist...just a person who has been married for 22 years.
What I am getting from your post is that you and your wife both are currently working and you are presently just able to meet your financial obligations. Your wife would like to start a family now, quit her job, and stay home and raise your children however, you do not see that as being financially doable at the present time. This is causing anxiety which in turn is causing your ED.
First I will say that yes, fear of pregnancy when you are not ready, fear of not being able to meet financial obligations, all can lead to anxiety. And since you are pretty adamant that starting a family at the present time is not what you want due to financial obligations, I'm sure it can lead to ED. Think about it, anxiety takes a heavy toll on the body in many different ways and it manifests itself in the thing you are most insecure about.
Have you sat down with your wife and listed all of the financial obligations that you have as a couple at the moment? It seems to me that communication has broken down between you and your wife. She is off the pill whether you want it or not and you are faking orgasms just to keep her happy when ED does not occur.
A marriage is based on compromise and it is really hard when one person is doing all the compromising which it seems like you are doing at the present time. This can happen in any marriage. My best advise would be to have a sit down with your wife or with your wife and a therapist and get it all out in the open. You are keeping these fears bottled up at the moment and they are causing you to have physical and emotional problems.
I don't think that having ED is your "silver lining" but rather just another thing to put on your already full plate.
I think that you and your wife need to start communicating again. Come up with a financial plan that will suit you both as far as pregnancy and her quitting work goes. Once you have done this, I'm sure your anxiety will go away and with it your ED.
For myself, I will say that my current bout of anxiety/depression came about due to a large financial burden that I did not expect to have. For 3 weeks I could not eat and lost more than 10 pounds which I did not need to lose. It becomes all encompassing and it needs to be dealt with.
My best to you and your wife.
ED is the least of your problems dear (((hug))). You need to have a heart to heart talk with your wife about your concerns. Show her your post. I personally don't think a child right now is a good idea and you will regret giving in under these circumstances.
Until BOTH people in a relationship are ready, willing and able (mentally, physically, emotionally and financially) to have a child, you should not do so. It will cause further strain on all of the above and down the road y'all will end up splitting (or being miserable and resenting each other). Neither is good for the child!!
I understand you not wanting to force her to take birth control...but that doesn't mean she can force you to become a parent when you are not ready (and she isn't either...until she completely quits smoking she is putting your child at risk of many complications-including DEATH (miscarriage). If she isn't willing to completely quit, she isn't ready to have a child).
Think of it this way, if you were the woman in this scenario and did not want to have a child right now...would it be fair for the man to insist? NO...and it doesn't change because in this case you are the man...it takes TWO to make and raise and child and you are totally within your rights to say no.
FYI, I was in a position similar to your wife. I wanted a child with my husband VERY, VERY MUCH. He wasn't ready. We are older so had the old biological clock issue to deal with...but I respected him enough to wait. This past Valentines Day his gift to me was a pair of baby shoes...his way of saying that he was ready to try. Our daughter is due Nov 15 and we are BOTH ecstatic and looking forward to her birth. It has totally been worth the wait...because our marriage is stronger this way than if I had unilaterally made the choice for us both.
Perhaps if your wife truly understands that "Not now" isn't the same as "No" she will agree to wait a little longer? You two could work together to develop a concrete plan of action to get your finances in order: i.e. all credit card debt must be paid off, total monthly debt (mortgage/rent, car payment, student loans...etc etc) equal no more than 40% of YOUR income.
Also, she has to have stopped smoking completely for 6 months (and that is 6 months from the time she stops any nicotine replacement products, not from the last cigarette) and she is healthy (weight in "normal" range, not overweight), blood pressure good, and taking prenatal vitamins (particularly folic acid) for at least 3 months.
If she isn't willing to wait, I'd say she is just too immature at this time...and if you give in, you will be raising TWO children...
and fyi, I think your ED may be God's way of saying "Not now"
I agree with everything Christine just said. Your wife does not have the right to bring a baby into the world without your full consent and then expect you to bear the financial burden entirely. She has absolutely no business trying to get pregnant when still a smoker and having other health burdens. You two aren't financially ready by anyone's measure, it would seem that way to any man, not merely to one who has seen a loved one struggle and strain under crushing debt. While she is working, any extra money should definitely go to reducing your debts, and only when the credit-card ones are GONE and there is a big dent in the student loans, should you guys consider a baby.
Talk to a therapist with your wife. If you cannot come to an agreement, a trial separation would not be excessive in this situation. Because, if you stay with it as it is, you might wind up with a baby and a likely divorce.
Just an aside...don't think for a minute that your marriage is over because of this. It is just that the lines of communication need to be opened back up. I can tell from your post that you love your wife very much and obviously would do anything for her. So please do not let any of these posts give you more anxiety. All the best.
Adding to what JGF25 posted...I meant my post to be supportive of YOUR position (so if it sounded otherwise, I apologize). I agree with JGF that there has been a breakdown of communication in your marriage...but with some work from BOTH people, you can get through this AND have a stronger relationship as a result.
I appreciate everyones thoughts and suggestions, its helpful and somewhat reassuring for me to know that other people out there also think that these types of financial concerns that can cause anxiety are a legitimate reason to want to wait just a little longer before really trying to have children.
I do plan to talk with my wife about the timing and budget issues again, but Im not overly optimistic about whether or not she will be able to fully discuss the budget. Even though in many ways she can be quite frugal, she absolutely hates having discussions about money, and she sorta shuts down when I want to talk to her about our spending and debt pay off plan, even when I try to lay it out, in writing (spreadsheet) in as plain and unintimidating of a fashion as can be. I hope that over time she improves in her willingness to discuss these matters - but since Ive tried before Im not overly optimistic that she will suddenly have an epiphany about the matter.
For what its worth, I think the issue of financial readiness could be only one or two years away, depending on what kind of raise I may or may not get if I keep working as hard as I have been for the past 3 years (Ive taken a total of 4 vacations days in the past 30 months). While that cant solve everything, if I am lucky enough to earn a raise, it could go a long way in me compensating for any lost income from my wife whenever she quits her job. And as far as smoking is concerned, my wife is trying very hard to quit smoking, but has just struggled to make any real progress so far, but she is committed to trying to cut back and I support her efforts. She started smoking when she was very young, I think when she was 11 or 12, and shes told me before that she was smoking almost two packs a day by the time she was a junior in high school and apparently has been a chain smoker since then. Im sure her environment didnt help, as her mother is also a heavy smoker and apparently even let her children smoke in the home growing up, so she has alot of mental adjustment to do before she gets there, but I give her credit for trying. When we first started dating it wasnt uncommon for her to smoke three packs a day and be reaching for a fourth pack, all while claiming that she hated being a smoker. While I was never anywhere near that heavy of a smoker when we started dating, maybe half a pack a day at the most, I agreed to try to quit if she did too. So I cut back to nearly zero, and she has cut back to where she can get by on only two packs a day most of the time, and is really trying hard to smoke less, and she has been especially motivated to try since she started trying to get pregnant. Its not a perfect solution, and I realize there is a real chance she may never completely be able to quit smoking, but I fully support her efforts to try as long as she is willing to put forth some effort.
Either way, Im glad to know that other people also think financial concerns may be a legitimate reason for delaying having children, and I do in fact plan to further discuss possibly delaying this matter further with my wife. Although I dont know how that conversation will go, and I suspect I may still end up relying on "natures birth control" caused by my Anxiety induced ED, I think its probably the right thing to do to at least try to talk to her about it again.
It is not just the financial part that you need to talk to her about again but also what it is doing to you physically and mentally. She may not understand though so be prepared. A person who has not experienced anxiety sometimes cannot relate. My husband told me once "I am not the one with the problem." And my reply was "how do you know?" There are many types of "problems"; some more recognizable than others.
The smoking is going to be a problem at some point. Two packs a day is a lot and not to mention what cigarettes cost these days. She is young enough that if she quits now the damage to her lungs will start to theal. Just keep routing her on. Tell her you want to be with her for a very long time and smoking will cut that time short.
The other thing is that research shows infants have a higher risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) when their parents (or other adults to whom they are exposed) smoke, even if the smoker never smokes in the room where the child is. So please tell your wife it is time for you two to do a no-smoking program. Not just "cut back," quit. I'm not saying the baby will die, but what if a tragedy did occur involving SIDS? Neither of you would ever be able to forgive yourselves.
Thanks for the encouragement and support. I know that before we maky any serious family plans, after dealing with finances, that there is no doubt that my wife really needs to try to cut back on her constant smoking. I guess its in part because she is off work for the summer, but her chain smoking has seemed to get out of control again, and shes been smoking almost three packs a day this past week and over the holiday weekend. I think she is just more and more paranoid that she will never be able to get pregnant, which is making her more depressed and anxious, and she is falling back on her cigarettes as a crutch, which is not good.
AnnieBrooke, your comments are helpful, even though they just raise my anxiety levels even more. I just dont know how to approach her about the quitting smoking thing. I was able to make myself mostly quit smoking, with the help of the nicotine gum and drinking alot of diet cokes, but I dont think it will be as easy for my wife, since she has been so addicted to cigarettes for so long. Either way, the anxiety, both over the finances and over whether or not my wife will be able to ever quit or even cut back on her smoking to be healthy enough to have a child, seems to have exacerbated my anxiety and psychological fears of pregnancy and made my ED even worse. Even though my wife isnt pregnant yet, I still dont want any baby we may ever one day have to have SIDS, and your right about the dangers from second hand smoke, I just dont know what to do to get my wife to try to smoke less, it just makes me feel so anxious and powerless.
Without a doubt, cigarettes are highly addictive. Some professionals that specialize in addiction say nicotine is more addictive than heroin.
I started smoking when I was in 4th grade. I became addicted very quickly. I smoked about 3/4 of a pack a day until I was 27 when I was able to quit with the help of the nicotine patch.
I had tried to quit many times before then...including during my two pregnancies (I cut back to less than 10 cigarettes a day while pregnant and thankfully my children were okay....BUT I did have respiratory problems throughout my pregnancies and both my children had meconium staining at birth...and I am sure my smoking was a factor in that)
Something to keep in mind...smoking can affect fertility. Her depression and anxiety over her fertility may also affect her fertility.
It really does sound to me as though there are many things that need to be addressed before you have a child. At this point, I see problems with having a healthy pregnancy.
Does your wife LIKE her job? Is she maybe wanting to have a child so she has a reason to quit working?
I wish you both the very best. I truly hope you seek counseling so you can work things out and have a health marriage and child.