Posted by: littlebitofparadise | July 25, 2013

NFP Sucks

NFP1

Note: Writers and theologians far more qualified than I have written tomes about what NFP (Natural Family Planning) is, why it is important, and how to practice it in your marriage. So for the sake of time and space, I won’t go into those details, and will in fact assume you can find a basic education about NFP through expert articles and sources, such as here, here, here and here.

Since this week is National NFP Awareness Week, it seemed like a golden opportunity to share the best instruction about Natural Family Planning that I ever received. It came from an unlikely source, and an unlikely time in my life. But during the past 4 years that I’ve been married, that NFP instruction has served to be one of the most helpful lessons I’ve learned on my journey to understanding and practicing marital sexuality.

The Best NFP Instruction I Ever Received

It was 1998. I sat in the control room of a live radio studio behind a huge black mixing board and dozens of blinking buzzing machines that put my father’s voice and callers from around North America on the air to talk with each other. I was 17 years old, and I was producing a live show for the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network. I’ve produced literally hundreds of radio broadcasts for EWTN since then, and hosted six years worth of live talk shows of my own. But even still, I’ll never forget that particular show that aired in September 1998. The topic: “Why Natural Family Planning is Great for Your Marriage” featuring my dad (host) and a NFP teaching couple.

The radio broadcast was a cookie cutter example of all of the NFP teaching and instruction I’ve received since. The same facts provided during that broadcast have been echoed in Catholic conference talks I’ve heard all over the country. It’s the same info I’ve heard from other experts on other Catholic radio shows. It’s the low-down my Hubs (then fiance) and I received during our marriage-preparation retreat required by the Catholic Church before our wedding. It’s what our NFP instructor told us week after week during the private classes we took during the six months prior to getting married.

The Gist:

  • NFP is great for your marriage
  • NFP brings you closer together as a couple
  • NFP lowers your chance of divorce until you almost have no divorce rate
  • NFP strengthens your communication with each other
  • NFP helps you grow in virtue
  • NFP creates an environment where both spouses are clued in to the woman’s body and cycles
  • NFP is simple to learn
  • NFP is easy to use
  • NFP is inexpensive
  • NFP is more effective than artificial birth control in family planning
  • NFP is healthy, safe, great for your body
  • NFP will help you and your spouse love and respect each other more
  • The monthly periods of abstinence make your love-making that much more exciting days later
  • And you get the idea…

About half way through the radio show, my dad opened the phone lines to take calls from his international listening audience. Most calls were from Catholics who reaffirmed the NFP information I listed above. Some callers disagreed entirely with the idea of NFP, and preferred to use artificial forms of contraception despite what the Catholic Church taught regarding human sexuality and God’s design for love-making to also be open to life.

And then there was the caller I’ll never forget. It was a young married husband and father. I believe he’d been married for about seven years, had several children, and he and his wife practiced NFP in their marriage.

“I appreciate this broadcast” said the man. “and I thank you for discussing the topic of NFP on the air. But I have to be honest with you: I think NFP sucks.”

Woah. I sat up a little straighter, my hand on the “dump switch” waiting to see what the dude would say next and if I’d be allowed to keep him on the air or not. Wisely, the host let the man continue.

“Here’s the thing: my wife and I love the Catholic Church, and we practice NFP in our marriage. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s safe, healthy, and it is God-honoring in that it allows our love making to be free and open to life as God intended. But it sucks to have to abstain from sex for long periods of time. It’s hard, it takes a lot of will power, and especially from my perspective as a guy: it’s not fun.” 

I always thought that EWTN caller was one of the most honest, open, and forthright of my entire radio career. But at the ripe old age of 17, I really had no idea how much his words would come back to help me in my own marriage. Because it wasn’t until I was married, over a decade later, that I got to learn for myself: NFP really does suck.

Do I think NFP is safe, healthy, moral, God-honoring, virtue-building, and spouse-bonding? YES. I do. I love the fact I can understand what’s going on with my body and make healthy, pill-free decisions to either achieve or avoid pregnancy based on the very latest scientific research into women’s health. I think total, uninhibited, completely self-giving love is beautiful, sexy, and fulfilling.

But it’s also HARD. Sometimes uber super duper hard. Sometimes hard enough to make me want to throw in the towel or raise my fist at God and ask “what the heck were You thinking when You came up with this plan for married sexuality??!”

I don’t enjoy having raging hormones and desires for my husband during fertile times that are imprudent for us to conceive another child. I don’t find “working hard to communicate in other ways” fun and enjoyable when I just want my husband and he wants me. It’s not easy to go through the crazy post-partum and breast-feeding months trying to figure out what’s going on with my body and telling my husband “nope not tonight either…and still not exactly sure when.”

NFP is hard. NFP is stressful. NFP sucks.

But here’s the real testimony:

We choose to practice NFP anyway. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. And sometimes doing the right thing means doing the hard thing. Worth it in the end, but a struggle and a sacrifice along the way.

So during this week set aside as “National NFP Awareness Week”, I hope to send out a desperate plea to those giving NFP advice and instruction to others: PLEASE don’t “sugarcoat” NFP. Don’t make is sound all warm and fuzzy and rosy and sexy and perfect. Sure, state all the positive components and amazing scientific facts. But also be honest about the work, the sacrifice, the stress, the commitment, and the hardship involved.

That way, couples will enter marriage armed and ready for the long road ahead. A hard, sometimes bumpy road. But in the end a beautiful, truly worthwhile journey.

NFP

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Responses

  1. Thank you!!! It is so hard to explain to people why we do NFP. NFP really DOES suck! And it’s nice to have that out in the open! Well said 🙂

  2. I think NFP rocks! How else will I keep my wife’s hands off me if not for a short time of abstaining. 🙂

  3. THANK YOU for being honest. It is very unfortunate that so many are “sugarcoating” the truth about NFP. I think there is an entire subculture of Catholics who are struggling with NFP but are afraid to admit it because they feel guilty for saying anything negative about it. Your article is spot on (although I’m sure you are going to get a litany of responses claiming that NFP really IS the most wonderful thing ever, and how dare you be so irresponsible as to suggest otherwise). May this be the beginning of truly objective dialogue on the matter.

  4. I truly believe NFP is very misguided. NFP is only supposed to be practiced in very serious cases. I think a married couple should allow God to be the decider of how many children a couple should have. In that way, you are putting aside selfish desires (yes, it’s unselfish to abstain, but the reason for abstaining is more selfish — not wanting another child at that time). My sister and brother-in-law have never practiced NFP and they are the happiest couple I have ever met. They have 8 children, the oldest with Down’s Syndrome and are in their early 30’s, open to God’s plan for their lives. Here is a good article on the Church’s teaching:

    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/morality/family/nfamp.htm

    • So it’s never selfish to conceive a child? It’s never selfish to NOT want to conceive a child?

      What about the woman who has 5 children dependent on her as well as her husband and whose health would be in grave peril if she got pregnant again? What if she chooses to avoid that pregnancy using NFP out of love for the family that she already has?

      What about the couple who is not psychologically ready to have another child and feels the need to patch up the foundation of their family–their marriage–prior to putting another child into the middle of it?

      What about the couple who has no way to afford a child at the moment?

      What about the couple who chooses to have children for the pride of looking like a martyr rather than to love those children as autonomous human beings with free will?

      What about the couple who conceive a child solely with the hopes that it will “fix” their marriage?Why should we leave everything *completely* up to God in conception? We don’t do that with money (I hope). If a man loses his job, he works his butt off to find another one and doesn’t just hope God will drop the right opportunity in his lap. If we want to get married, we don’t just sit and wait for the right person to come, we intentionally seek a certain type of person with specific characteristics. Why is it wrong to approach conception with the same sense of reason and self-control while being open to life?

      I’m very glad that your sister and brother-in-law are happy with their family and their choices, but so are the people who use God’s own design of fertility to discern when or when not to abstain from sex in order to attempt to bring children into a solid family situation while remaining open to life. These people are ALSO loving their children and long before they are born. And it is not for you to say who is being more or less selfish in that scenario, because, believe me, the self-sacrifice involved in working for months, even years for some people, to obtain a live-able situation for your future child before he/she is conceived is *excruciating*.

    • I’m also not sure your article is completely correct in communicating all the nuance involved of what is “practicing” NFP or what constitutes a “serious” situation.. A couple may be practicing NFP and not using it to avoid pregnancy but to understand health issues or to actually *conceive* a child by knowing their fertile times. Your article also cites no sources, which makes me very suspicious as to exactly where the author’s information is coming from.

    • I’m sorry, your comment provoked an emotional reaction in me, and I was lengthy and thus missed perhaps the most important point: the article you cite points out specifically that there ARE good reasons to use NFP to avoid pregnancy. So I’m not sure from where your understanding of using NFP to avoid pregnancy as misguided is coming.

    • I agree that it is very misguided to say “God should decide how many children a couple has.” I have only been married three years and we did not use NFP and conceived a beautiful son. He has Downs Syndrome and has had four surgeries in the last two years and is still physically behind. I firmly believe that our current child, the gift God has already given us, is our FIRST PRIORITY! I am recovering from the stress of his feeding difficulties and, although to most people it doesn’t look like I am sick, I actually am. I am aware that I need to take care of my health first in order to truly care for my future children who need me to be healthy so that my body can take care of them in-utero. These are “serious matters” to us even though others might judge that they are not. I would LOVE to have many more children but in this world there other factors that most people don’t deem serious reasons to abstain: insurance (our state doesn’t offer maternity coverage through private companies), money (it isn’t healthy for parents to always be worried about how to scrape by), house size (we lived in a one-bedroom apartment for two years, no way we could add #2 to that situation and no money to upgrade), mental health (I firmly believe that some people can handle more children than others). We are CO-CREATORS with God, we need to be aware of our responsibilities to our God, self, spouse, and children and not put “openness to life” above these responsibilities. NFP is not closing the door to life, it is responsible parenthood. How, when we know the science of fertility can we believe that God will just give us children when we are ready? God has a hand in our lives, but he doesn’t stop things from happening because we make certain choices.

      Side note: We are not waiting forever, that would be irresponsible too. It is easy to fall into the trap of “if he just hits this next milestone we can handle another child.” My husband and I are actively talking about it and the future is looking very bright. Isn’t that how it should be?

  5. Great Article!
    I like Kimberly Hahn’s assessment of NFP:
    NFP is not a daily vitamin, but a recipe for dealing with difficult times when there are serious reasons not to conceive. It’s supposed to be hard and the serious reasons need to be serious enough to embrace the difficulty.

  6. I agree it’s HARD, especially during the fertile period and especially post-partum and especially while breast feeding!! But I don’t think it sucks!!!

    Looking back on our love life, NFP has certainly minimized it, but at the same time improved it…because less, can sometimes be MORE. We cherish “our” time so much because of NFP that lots of thought and anticipation and extreme gratitude for the gift goes into every occasion.it also helps keep us focused and disciplined. During the abstinence periods we work out more, we give more of ourselves to the kids, to our ministry, to work etc. when that’s over, we put each other as the priority, we take days off, book hotel rooms, put the kids to bed early etc.

    NFP also keeps us in check…it’s not hard for DH and I to fall into all kinds of excesses in this field, NFP allows us the time to cool down, to put things into perspective, it reminds us that this is a gift not an entitlement,

    I do hate it when one of us gets sick during our time, or there are deadlines, or business trips and the whole month is missed. But, overall, it has still been a huge positive for us (after overcoming the “NFP will ruin our marriage and is NOT natural and it’s torture and God must have a mean streak to Him to design things this way” stage). I, honestly, do not want to know what our love life would be without NFP. I’ll take harder but better over easier and less satisfying.

  7. My wife and I have for 10 years chosen not to use Natural Family Planning. Instead we use Super-Natural Family Planning. We believe that God opens or closes the womb. We place complete trust in Him. We have been blessed with four children so far and we have not had any of the stress that NFP brings to marriage. We don’t believe NFP is wrong, but SNFP (for us) has been a great blessing.

    • What is SNFP?

  8. I really appreciate this perspective, and you’re absolutely right that we need to tell this truth in discussing NFP.

    However, I think we also have to be reminded that EVERY sexual relationship, no matter what kind of “family planning” they’re using, is going to have it’s rough patches. The pill alters your sex drive (something that’s not only a researched fact but that I also know from experience), which can make sex complicated. And how ’bout pregnant sex? HA! My husband and I were soooooo excited about not having to worry about NFP charts for 9 months. Too bad no one tells you (well, the books do, I guess we weren’t reading) that the woman might never *want* to have sex, or that, even if you want it, navigating around that belly in the third trimester (and other realities of pregnancy that I just won’t mention) can make you feel about as sexy as a bag of rocks! Now I’m LONGING for the days of simple charting difficulties!

    Then there’s just the normal rough patches. One spouse is going through a really tough time at work. Or gets sick. Or sex becomes boring. (And even NFP’ers are not immune to these, although I think the abstinence period really helps with that last one).

    Navigating a committed, monogamous, sexual relationship is going to be difficult at times no matter what. We have to choose what sacrifices we think are worth it. And I agree with you that the sacrifice involved in NFP is worth it and, at least for me, comes with the knowledge that you’re doing something right.

  9. I think honesty when dealing with NFP is important. It seems to me there are three groups of people (including Catholics): 1) Absolutely believes contraception is wrong and wants no part of it 2) Sees absolutely nothing wrong with contraception and has no interest in NFP (though they might be interested in FAM (NFP w/ barriers during fertile time)) and 3)Admits that contraception is not ideal but doesn’t see any viable alternative. You’ve already sold 1 on NFP (if they need to limit family size) and 2 won’t buy it in any case. Your “market” is 3, and when they read or hear that NFP is 99% effective and that you can only get pregnant a few days each month, they are willing to listen. Then, when experience shows that abstinence is definitely more than a few days and that it can be very extended especially during breastfeeding and that signs can be hard to read, they give up or become one of those who have unplanned kids and decide NFP doesn’t work.

  10. Ha! Love this. And I get what you mean, NFP is really great but, yeah, sometimes it really sucks.

  11. This is a great article! Thanks for taking the time to post it. There’s no Easter without the Cross… and that’s the story of our journey through our married vocation. I wish people would have been a little more straight with me when I was a young mother. I heard lots of platitudes: “Babies are a blessing,” “Big families, big love,” etc. and they were all true. But I spent years feeling like an abysmal failure because my motherhood was startlingly messy and imperfect and difficult. I thought I was the only one. It took a while for me to realize that life is painful for everyone at times and that things like NFP and large family life are HARD even for those who love Jesus well. When I talk to new moms now, I always make sure to use words like “Sacrificial Love” because I think it’s important that we place our hopes and dreams in the context of authentic love, not human perfection. So yeah, NFP does “suck” at times because of that sacrificial part. And I think we can say that from our humanity and still love it for the good that it brings to our lives. Again, really good post… important work. God bless!

  12. I’m a new follower. I loved this post! just loved it! and I like to follow fellow Catholics. Sometimes we just have to stick together.

  13. It is never selfish to conceive a child through the mutual love of husband and wife. It is always selfish to not want to conceive a child without grave reason in marriage.

    I feel like you have played on extremes in your reasoning. Most Catholic couples do not face the examples that you used, so thus we need to get to the real Catholic reason why NFP is immoral except in grave situations

    I would agree that grave peril of life to the mother is probably a justifiable reason for NFP, although in every situation a solid Orthodox Priest needs to be consulted beforehand. It is up to the Church after all to determine which reasons are grave. I would say that if the life of the mother is in such danger, abstinence might be a better alternative. After all to sacrifice pleasure for the sake of absolutely protecting the life of the mother is the greater good. However, I think this would constitute a grave reason. This example is very rare though so the majority of Catholics will never face this and I fear the risk of high blood pressure or somewhat riskier pregnancies might be used as an excuse to not have a baby. A high chance of death, and not just a more difficult pregnancy would classify under this grave reason for NFP in my opinion.

    Now the psychological argument is a little tougher to convince me how this could be a grave. What could be so threatening that a baby would just ruin everything? Ultimately I would argue that if you put your trust in God things will work out for the good. Who is to say that that extra child would not be the catalyst to bring about peace in the family? All things work out for the good for those who love God. I paraphrased that from the Bible, but God never abandons those who put their trust in Him.

    We live in the United States of America and I have an almost zero percent chance of believe people cannot afford to have a child. If a couple says that I will ask them how many vacations they have gone on, what cars they drive, do they buy coffee every morning, do they have smartphones, etc… In America we are obsessed with consumerism and I believe in people really sacrificed, which might not be comfortable or fun the ultimate joy of bringing another child into the world would more then makeup for the perceived “needs” that are thrust upon us. We cannot serve God and Mammon. Think about the parable about the birds of the air and how they do not store their food, yet God provides for them. How much more will he care for us, whom he deigned to take upon himself in order to save us?

    How many people really have that many children to look like a martyr? That seems a bit of an exaggeration. If someone does that, well then God can judge that.

    I think you are giving to little credit to the power of God to bring change and miracles to the world. Sex is the way in which we can take part in the divine by taking part in creation. The love that produces a child is of far greater value then a fleeting job. Why are people so quick to think that a child will produce more trouble, yet slow to realize the immense blessings they provide.

    Imagine if there were no abortion and everyone had around 5-7 children. Imagine all of those people paying into social security and also pumping money into the economy. We would be back to a more sustainable triangle shape demographic with the youngest at the bottom of the triangle. Maybe finding a job wouldn’t be so difficult, because our economy wouldn’t be so wrecked. There is always a consequence to sin.

    Knowing how fertility works does not give license to manipulate according to the desires of people. We as humans know how to do lots of heinous things, but knowledge does not equal license.

    Ultimately you may forget and toss off all of what I said, for if I win this argument I have lost a soul. Please listen to this last bit of information, which is from Pope Pius XII in Address to Midwives on the Nature of Their Profession:
    “On married couples, who make use of the specific act of their state, nature and the Creator impose the function of providing for the preservation of mankind. This is the characteristic service which gives rise to the peculiar value of their state, the bonum prolis. The individual and society, the people and the State, the Church itself, depend for their existence, in the order established by God, on fruitful marriages. Therefore, to embrace the matrimonial state, to use continually the faculty proper to such a state and lawful only therein, and, at the same time, to avoid its primary duty without a grave reason, would be a sin against the very nature of married life.”

    “Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called ‘indications,’ may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned. If, however, according to a reasonable and equitable judgment, there are no such grave reasons either personal or deriving from exterior circumstances, the will to avoid the fecundity of their union, while continuing to satisfy to the full their sensuality, can only be the result of a false appreciation of life and of motives foreign to sound ethical principles.”

    http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2011/10/influential-address-60-years-of-pope.html

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=5370&CFID=270226&CFTOKEN=43490552

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_31121930_casti-connubii_en.html

    You are very free to ignore all of my rationale, but our former Holy Fathers are a different story. In the end we all must stand before the judgment seat of God, where all will be made light. Lord have mercy on us.

    • Wow, who made you the judge over who is selfish and who is not? Unless you have been given some very Padre Pio- esque gifts and are able to read the minds and hearts of all the Catholics in America, I’m going to respectfully direct your attention to Matthew 7:5 and Luke 6:42. And then to Luke 6:37. Perhaps approaching NFP discussions in a spirit of compassion and understanding would go a little further…

  14. Love this! Glad I’m not a loner on this one.

  15. […] first award goes to my July post “NFP Sucks.” It blew the stats for anything else I’ve ever written out of the water. Times ten. It […]

  16. Thank you for writing this. My husband & I have been married for 8 years and have been blessed with 4 healthy children. We have also lost 2 babies in miscarriages. At this point in our marriage we have serious reason to avoid pregnancy. We have had an extremely difficult time with NFP. Two of our six pregnancies occurred when we were trying to avoid. We are now learning our 2nd method of NFP in the hopes that we will feel more confident with the method. I have proven to be the “exception to the rule” with both methods, which means we need to abstain almost completely. This is an enormous stress in our life and on our marriage. I am currently extremely drepressed, close to a nervous breakdown and have had suicidal thoughts. These NFP struggles are a huge contributing factor. I feel as if I was lied to. I feel as if we were not properly prepared. Everyone sugar coated NFP. I wish I had been better prepared for these struggles.

    • Kate, thanks so much for writing and I’m so sorry for your heavy cross. Do you have someone to talk with about the depression? Seek help in others – it makes a huge difference during suffering. Blessings to you!!

    • Kate,

      I’m in a similar boat; of 8 pregnancies we have a had four losses, the last being 6 months ago at 23 weeks. Now in my mid-forties I’m being driven crazy by wonky pre-menopausal cycles and lots of abstinence because we are serious about avoiding. I too have had to add another method to the one I learned. However, I have also discovered that a few of the supplements I was taking was causing problems for me (fish oil meant near-constant mucus) and I’ve also decided to see a NaPro doctor to find out what is really going on with my hormones. What you are experiencing may not be normal and I highly recommend you see a NaPro professional. They are they only OBs that don’t shove pills down your throat for every female problem and know how to sort through your charts to see what is really going on. Best of luck to you,,,and yes sometimes NFP truly sucks. 🙂

  17. […] https://littlebitofparadise.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/nfp-sucks/ […]

  18. I don’t stress too much about serious vs. selfish reasons to avoid. I find that months where we agree beforehand we are avoiding for serious reasons the final decision is made in the moment…sometimes those serious reasons are not that big of a deal all of the sudden and sometimes they look huge. That’s where God gives us a little extra grace and clarity. I find that the abstinence part is too hard anyway if the reason is not serious enough. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be for a healthy couple still attracted to one another. Its Gods way of protecting us from serious sin.

  19. Totally sucks. Hate every single minute of it. For those who state there are few “grave” reasons (mainly guys I see) they should sit in my office (I am an MD) and hear some issues people are facing. There are grave reasons.

  20. Not a quibble, just a preference… I do not like the word “sucks” for this type of article. If we are using “sucks” to indicate that we are not getting to do what we want because we are doing something morally good, we can also say that following God “sucks”, loving your spouse and children “sucks”, and even taking advice from a blog entry that affirms you need to change an aspect of your lifestyle “sucks.”

    I also hope people do not go too far in the opposite direction of the NFP “sugarcoaters” and focus mostly about how hard it is while giving only a small amount of lip service to its benefits.

    • Dennis – thanks for your comments. Point taken and I agree with you!

  21. When you’ve been in a chaste relationship, (in my case I will have been dating my fiancé for six years) being told that once you are married, you won’t be able to be physically intimate for half the time, and when you can, you’re liable for sinning by not having a ‘grave enough reason’ to avoid pregnancy by someone else’s standards is very overhwhelming.

    • Well, your comment is a good argument for short engagements. It’s definitely not ideal that you should wait so long. But do remember that “grave enough reason” is entirely up to your discretion. People that argue that you can sin by using NFP are being scrupulous to the extreme. Also while learning NFP there can be a lot of abstinence, unless your are dealing with health problems that make your fertility signs hard to read you will reach a point where you will not be avoiding “half the time”. If you do have health problems that affect your fertility, you sure as heck are going to be motivated to address them! Because NFP has been difficult for me I’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s by a NaPro doc and I’m now on the right medication and progesterone support. I’m also feeling better than I have in a long time…and my cycles are more sane. Yes NFP can be hard the way that building a brick house compared to one of straw is hard. But it’s worth it in the end. If you are not yet working with an instructor, now is the time to start!

      • Thank you EMR, it’s good news that you are receiving treatment for your fertility problems now, and thanks for being encouraging. 🙂

  22. I’m about to get married, and have researched NFP pretty thoroughly and my main observation is that it takes over peoples’ lives, and in spite of all this effort, nobody seems any happier with their sex lives or spiritual lives. And even though the NFP evangelists claim how effective it is, there seem to be just as many with eight or more kids who use it.

    So since my future husband and I won’t be in the postition to provide for a family for a few years, we have decided to be married and abstain from sex completely until we are ready to have children.

    This is particularly underwhelming for my fiancé, who is part of a non-denominational Christian church who don’t have strong views on contraception, and his friends there will fully expect him to be enjoying the consumation of our love as soon as we’re married. I’m not particularly pleased about it either, but we’ve decided that abstinence is the only way to avoid sinning (since it is still sinful to use NFP to avoid pregnancy without “grave reason”).

    So my question to NFP users, is knowing our situation, what do you think of it? Do you think abstinence during marriage is possible? Is it even Godly to abstain from lovemaking with a spouse?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Nina,
      Thanks so much for your comments, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
      My strong, suggestion…my plea…is that you seek out a very holy priest who can counsel you and your fiance about your desire for an unconsummated marriage. God designed love making to be a key, integral part of marriage, so each of us called to this beautiful vocation needs to be very careful to not put undo strain and stress on the marriage. Seek counsel and advice from a good priest! He will help you navigate the path of discernment with your family planning, and help guide you on what the Church teaches regarding Natural Family Planning and when it is appropriate to use natural means for avoiding pregnancy (including for when you cannot provide for children for a time). Many blessings to you and I’ll keep you in my prayers!

      • Thank you so much for your response, and thank you even more for your prayers. It’s refreshing to hear about NFP from someone who isn’t just there to promote it, but to be understanding too.

        Your advice is good, and over the last few days since my comment, my fiancé have been praying about it and discussing more frankly “what would be the worst that could happen if we became pregnant early into the marriage?” Since then, we have both applied for better paying jobs (as well as a job much closer to home than where I currently work).

        We’ll try to be honest with our priest about our concerns. And you never know, the new jobs might happen!

        Your response to me has been so heartwarming, thank you and I’ll remember you and your beautiful family in my prayers.

      • Nina, I don’t know if you “Facebook” but I highly recommend this group as a place to learn and observe real couples using NFP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NFPfans/ Even the most conservative methods will allow for you to have intercourse without risk of pregnancy during post-peak phase. NFP is trickiest to use either before peak or cutting it too close if you aren’t good at identifying peak. And don’t let the “grave reasons” comments trouble you. If you are willing to abstain entirely for several years I’d say your reasons are pretty grave! Rally it IS up to you to discern. God bless!

      • Awesome comment thank you!!

  23. I do use Facebook, I’ll hunt down that group. To be honest, just finding this blog post is really transforming the way I view NFP and am definitely going to start learning how to use it. Thank you both!

  24. I find it completely unfair to ask a woman to abstain from sex during the only time that she hormonally wants to be with her husband. This is the only problem that I have with NFP. The woman is always asked to give the bigger sacrifice. There is nothing just or fair about that. Outside of the handful of times that she is invoked with child-bearing, she is never allowed to participate in sexual relations during her most desirous time (unless she wants to drown in a sea of babies) for the duration of her fertility life. Does this not seem one-sided to anyone?? And no, it’s not God telling us to have more babies (if it’s difficult to abstain) beyond the fact that our bodies are designed that way. NFP is a great thing, but what the Church asks of women is just cruel.

    • Scythia,
      This is my major stress about NFP. Due to serious issues with my depression, I do not think my husband and I will have more children. I have 4 living kids ages 19 months to 8 years. I also lost 2 babies since we have been married. I know that things *might* change, and if we were able to get my depression dealt with, we *would* be open to more children. But, it really does look like our family is complete. The thought of abstaining during the times when I most want to express my love physically for my husband FOR THE REST OF OUR MARRIAGE makes my depression even worse. My love language is definitely physical affection. I feel like I am given 2 options; 1) get pregnant and deal with the debilitating depression during and after or 2) be miserable every month for half of my cycle feeling like TOO much is being asked of me and TOO much strain is being put on my marriage. Neither option is really appealing. I feel like my husband and I were lied to when we were taught about NFP. If it weren’t for my husband’s strong feelings about it, there would be no way I would be continuing to use it. I sometimes wonder how our marriage will survive.

      • My DH is a former seminarian and has very strong feelings regarding nfp. I too wouldn’t do it if it was left up to me, but I have a very wonderful and loving husband and don’t want to hurt him. We have a 4yr old, a 21mo old, and an infant. I am in nursing school and another baby would devistate us. I feel like my obligation now is to the children we have, so we will not be having any more. I just wish that there was some other way besides being out if communion with the Church. 😦

      • I’m very late to this party, but Sarah and Scytha, your comments resonated with me when I sat down this afternoon. I just came through a fertile time where I did, indeed, feel desire I couldn’t act on, and knew when the infertile time was coming because I stopped feeling that desire. (And I also have 4 kids and feel that I’m maxed out.) I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and aside from all the platitudes about if-you-were-on-birth-control-you’d-never-have-that-desire-at-all, the thing that this has helped me realize is how important it is for my mental game to be on, for me to work at encouraging desire when it isn’t ubiquitous. And I also realized that *that* is what has brought my/our enjoyment of this part of marriage to a new place, a much better place than it was fifteen years ago when we got married, or even five years ago when we were smack in the middle of using the fertile time to conceive. No, it’s not fun, but I’m starting to find peace with the need to choose between imperfect situations, and see what grows from them. For what it’s worth.

  25. […] NPF Sucks  […]


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