@SailorJerry - What you really need to know is how often your provider does episiotomies. Often, a tear will actually heal more quickly and with less pain than an episiotomy (which is any case can tear even further than the cut). Tearing is not usually painful because the pressure of the baby's head numbs the area. Routine episiotomy is no longer considered necessary, but some providers still do a lot of them.
Episiotomy is still necessary with forceps of vacuum, but it sounds like you want to avoid those, too! I can't emphasize enough how important it is to choose the right provider. Talk to him or her about how you and your wife want your pregnancy and birth to go and get a sense of whether the provider will support your wishes.