I have had a lot of people over the past year and a half ask why my husband and I use Natural Family Planning (NFP for short) in our marriage. This post is not to inform you (in detail) on how NFP works and it’s certainly not to condemn those that use contraceptives; it’s simply to share with you WHY my husband and I choose to use it in our marriage and why it works when used correctly. It is also meant to be an encouragement to any couples considering it for their marriages right now.
When my husband and I were going through pre-marriage counseling, the priest who was going to marry us, mentioned NFP. It was the first time I had ever heard of the topic. He HIGHLY encouraged us to go to a seminar on how it works, why we should use it, and why it works.
I’ll be honest; I was completely against the idea at first. But after five months of studying how to use NFP, lots of prayer, talking it over, lots more prayer, meeting with a mentor, and even more prayer, C and I knew this was what the Lord had called us to use in our marriage. Did I mention we prayed about it?
Anyways, here are the reasons we chose to use NFP:
- Avoids chemical/pill intake
- Encourages couple communication & interaction
- Fosters mutual responsibility by husband and wife
- Fosters deep respect and acceptance of the total person
- Values children and openness to life
- Cooperates with God’s plan for marriage
The number of young women on “the pill” is disturbing. Why is it disturbing, you may ask? Were you aware “the pill” has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Research for Cancer, a research arm of the World Health Organization? The sad reality is that any woman who takes a hormonal contraceptive for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her risk for breast cancer by 52%. Women deserve to know the truth. They have been failed by physicians in not being warned of the physical damage that they are doing to their bodies.
COMMUNICATION & INTERACTION:
We all know how important communication can be, especially in a marriage. NFP opens communication in a way I could never have imagined. It’s not just talking, but actually communicating with one another. Not only do I understand my body better and therefore respect it that much more, but my husband does as well. We talk about it (my body) on a daily basis and I truly feel our connection is a lot deeper because of it. We are a lot more open with each other about things.
NFP is not for the wife to experience alone. The husband is the “coach” of the relationship. The husband’s role is to continually communicate to the wife on how her charting is going and if she is charting correctly. The husband is to know how NFP works just as much as the wife. He guides her, helps her, and encourages her. It is a joint responsibility and it’s the couple’s job to work together in this. Whether a couple wishes to space their children or limit their family to the number of children they already have, the effectiveness rate of the modern methods of NFP are 96%-99.5% when taught by a certified instructor and used according to instructions. (This is higher than most artificial contraceptives.)
As I said before, my husband understands and respects my body. He knows what it does and why. He understands that there are going to be days we cannot be intimate and he controls himself and in return, I respect him for that. We know that there are going to be/have been days when we have to completely leave the apartment and find another activity, but that has made our marriage so much more spontaneous and fun. NFP does not lessen the importance of sexual union and sexual pleasure, but it helps couples to find other ways in which to connect. In this way, NFP can reignite the romance of dating for a married couple. It’s wonderful.
OPENNESS TO CHILDREN:
At the seminar we went to there was a couple there that had been married for a few years and were using NFP and one of them made this comment: “NFP opened our hearts to children … Children are a gift, a blessing, not a burden.” My husband and I know that there is always the chance if we use NFP incorrectly, we could become pregnant, but that isn’t stopping us from using this method. The Lord has opened our hearts to children and we know he will provide for us in every situation, as long as we are faithful to him.
Many couples say that an NFP lifestyle deepens their faith in God. I find that entirely true for me and my husband. The reality is that NFP is challenging, but it is clear to me that working together through the tough times strengthens and enriches our marriage. And as another couple said when discussing NFP with us: “The value I experience in NFP is in the long run …. It forces you to place your immediate choices in the context of spouse, children, family and Creator.”
NFP was actually created for couples TRYING to conceive children, but it can be used to avoid pregnancy as well. It’s good to know that when we are ready to have children, we know when it can be done. 😉
I encourage you, if you have ever or are now considering NFP to feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, try this website: http://www.rcdok.org/ministries/catholic_charities/family_life/Natural_Family_Planning/
And know that NFP is not just a Catholic thing, it truly is for anyone. I know plenty of non-Catholics who use this method. Say a prayer and see where the Lord is leading your marriage.