"NFP. We were
huge advocates of it during the first 17 years of our marriage, when we were
happy to welcome more children, and we had no real reason to avoid another
pregnancy. However, in my 40’s,
with children aging from teens to toddler, I felt unable to handle another
baby. It was time to practice what
My husband was NOT happy! He came into the faith late, and therefore had never had to
exercise any sort of discipline in that area; not as a teen, not in single
life, and not in married life. In
our culture, from the time boys begin to feel any urges at all, they are
encouraged to release them; they are certainly not told they need to conquer
them. We were both born and raised
in that culture.
When we first looked at actually practicing NFP, we figured
there would be two week stretches without intimacy and he staunchly refused to
consider such a sacrifice. This
led to months of upheaval, as I was panicked every month, and he was sick of my
emotional swings. I was angry with
him that he couldn’t contain himself for my sake. He was mad because I was not…enthusiastically participating
in our intimate life.
Finally he said he was going to get a vasectomy. I was devastated! Not only for the fact that he would be
committing a grave moral evil, but, admittedly, because there would be no
reason for me to say ‘no’ to sex, at any time. I’d done enough reflecting on sexuality that I knew the
effects of objectification, and I knew that I would end up feeling used for
gratification if there was no reason to abstain. It was during this reflection
that I recognized that, in spite of contraception, this divide still exists
between men and women in our culture. It is considered comical, and quite normal, for a woman to feign a
headache in order to avoid making love to her husband, as evidenced in TV,
movies and magazines.
I put my foot down. We had to go get some NFP training and, at the very least, give it a
good try for a few months. He
avoided the instruction for weeks, but finally agreed to yield an hour. I can’t even remember all of the things
said, but it had a huge impact on me. Not so much the science part as the relationship part of it. I do remember the instructor saying
that lust can never be satisfied, and that pretty much summed up what I felt
was happening, and would continue to happen in our marriage, if we didn’t use
Reluctantly, my husband agreed to give it a shot. I won’t bore you with all of the
details, but this experience has proven to my husband, more categorically than
anything else, that God knows what He’s talking about! We have had more intimacy, and more
enthusiastic intimacy that we had in the first 17 years of our marriage. He is stunned to see me invite him to union, which was a
constant source of strain in our marriage before. He didn’t feel loved, and neither did I. The best way I can define it is this:
during the stretches of abstinence I see him giving; giving me peace of mind, giving me love in the countless
other kindnesses that I know are not just a prelude to sex. During the safe times, I am so in love
with him for his generosity, that I desperately want to be near him. I am thrilled to have that closeness
with him, and I want to give him all that I can. NFP has been a tremendous blessing, in ways that I never
imagined, and on a level of depth of heart and soul that I didn’t even know
existed between two people."
Our Journey to Natural Family Planning
- Pat and Amy
Amy: Hello, My name is Amy and this is my husband of 16 years, Patrick.
We’re here to tell you a short version of how using Natural Family Planning or NFP in our marriage has changed our lives for the better.
Pat and I are both cradle Catholics. We both thought contraception was an acceptable choice for Catholics. When we got married, we felt our conscience was leading us to possibly having 2 kids. I planned to continue working on my career goals and hobbies.
My faith journey didn’t really change until my first pregnancy. At that time I prayed for faith for the first time and God did something incredible. He introduced me to some Catholic friends, who not only knew their faith, but they lived it. One friend handed me 2 things that changed my life forever. One was a CD called “Contraception Why Not?” and the other thing was a book called “The Art of NFP”. Both of these things made me furious.
They enraged me, because they were completely contrary to my world view. The other reason was because they made a lot of sense. For the first time I was confronted with my own hypocrisy. I knew I could not be a true follower of Christ, a Catholic, if I did not follow what His Church taught.
Pat: Amy asked me to listen to the CD and to read more about NFP. There were 4 things that we learned from these sources that impacted us the most. The first was that the pill and all hormonal contraceptives are abortafacients. This means that they often allow break through ovulation to occur and when this happens they make the lining of the uterus inhospitable to the baby and it is aborted. The IUD is always an abortafacient. That was really eye opening for both of us.
The second thing we learned was about the power of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church to all truths. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, made 4 predictions about what would happen if contraceptives became widely available and used in society. Here are his predictions:
First, he said that there would be a general lowering of morality in society. Second, he said there would be a disregard for the physical and psychological well-being of females by males. Third, he predicted that governments would use family planning programs for coercive purposes once contraception became widely available. And Fourth, Pope Paul VI predicted that we would begin to treat our bodies as though they were machines. All of his predictions have come true.
The third thing we learned was that all Christian churches up until 1930 taught that contraception was wrong. The Anglican church first broke away and approved contraception within marriage for serious reasons. How can something that was sinful all of a sudden become o.k.? The Truth does not change. The moral decline in society went from contraception within marriage for serious reasons to people not being able to fathom having more than 2 kids and abortion has become the back-up for failed contraception.
Most important to me was that I learned that couples who use NFP have an almost nonexistent divorce rate compared to a greater than 50% for contracepting couples.
Amy: Pat and I decided to take a class in NFP after our second child and I decided to stay home with our 2 boys. I did not want any more children and basically thought of NFP as Catholic birth control. This was completely wrong! It really works and is as effective as any chemical contraceptive in avoiding pregnancy, but through having to talk to your husband about your intimate life each month your heart begins to change. You start to see God’s role in every aspect of your marriage. We discovered how self centered we both were and we eventually became open to a 3rd child. After each child, I would tell God “that is it, I don’t think I can handle anymore children”. But God would work on my heart and tell me to “trust in Him”. Each child brought their share of difficulties, but the joy far outweighs the hardships. Our family learned that with each child love is not divided into smaller pieces, but it is multiplied. Now, we regularly talk about if we truly have a serious reason to not be open to God’s gift of a child and if we should abstain during my fertile time.
We now have 7 children. People might see us and think that we are an example of the awful failure of NFP. But the truth is the fact that we have 5 more children than we ever thought we would have, shows what a tremendous success it has been. We can’t imagine life without any of our kids. Learning NFP can also help you to achieve pregnancy and it is 100% natural. To sum it up, NFP’s greatest effect is that it changes your heart and your relationship with God, your spouse and your view of children.
Pat: Another great thing about NFP is that it is a total acceptance of your spouse the way that God intended. You love you wife totally, fertility and all, with no barriers between you. You get to be co-creators with God in bringing an unrepeatable new human soul into existence, who will live for all eternity.
Our faith has grown exponentially. We see the wisdom in the Catholic Church and now turn to her with confidence for the gifts of grace we receive in her sacraments.
Thank you for letting us share our
testimony with you and God bless you.