Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adventures in Natural Family Planning

Let's talk about sex, baby... oh wait... let's not. This post isn't going to be as much about sex as it is about marriage, because for some reason I've never really felt comfortable discussing sex with anyone other than my husband. Like it turns me about 17 shades of red if anyone even begins to ask me personally about my sex life. My kids come from storks - don't you know?! But I digress... back to the topic at hand.

So... Natural Family Planning... kind of a hot-topic right now, huh? I guess contraception is really the hot topic - what with the Health and Human Services Mandate that "IT SHALL BE FREE FOR EVERY ONE," blah blah blah. But some people think that NFP is a form of contraception (it's not)... so I suppose the topics are related (maybe).

A little background for you: All Catholic couples wishing to get married in our Diocese are required to take a natural family planning course as part of their marriage preparation. Andrew and I began learning about NFP months before we were even married. And because we had learned it, it wasn't too surprising to us when we found expecting our first baby about 3 weeks after our wedding. So we had about 3 weeks worth of actual charting practice as a married couple before we just stopped using NFP. I mean... we were pregnant for nine months. Then the stork brought Mia. And then we didn't really have a good reason to wait for another kid so we figured why would we bother with charting my cycles... and that big white bird dropped Vince by our house... and we still didn't have a great reason to wait an extensive amount of time for a third kid, so we half-assedly (yes... I just said half-assendly) charted when we thought about it, and before long came Mr. William. And that's when things changed.

Because little Will was a preemie, an emergency c-section, and the product of an extremely stressful pregnancy, we finally had a serious reason to wait a while before #4, God-willing, were to come into this world. But it had been 6 years since we really used NFP, so we had to re-learn the method. Am I going anywhere with this post? Yes... yes I am. And this is where it gets good.

So in half-assedly (there's that word again) practicing NFP for 6 years, we sort of forgot some of the cool things about the method. I mean, we never used it to ACHIEVE a pregnancy. We just sort of didn't care if we did achieve... so I'm not sure we were really using the method at all.

But now we're playing a whole new ball game. (That last sentence is super funny if you were at our wedding - if you weren't, you're missing out.) You see, the past year *and especially the last few months as William has started weaning*, the hubs and I have actually had to talk to each other about whether we were ready for another kid. We've had to stay in conversation with each other and with God about what His plan for our family was. And - though this slightly betrays my first paragraph about embarassing sex talk - I'm just going to say that practicing chastity within marriage is far more difficult than practicing it outside of marriage. I mean each night you're in the same bed with the one person in the world who you love the most... the one who did something extra nice or sweet that day... the one who, for some reason you can't even figure out, looks extra good that day (usually that indicates a hormonal shift - fyi)... and you can't touch them. Well... you can... but then you start engines that have to be shut off... yada yada... okay too much info. (I'm currently about the 13th shade of red after that paragraph.) Back to the topic.

I have discovered in the past few months what a blessing Natural Family Planning is. I've always appreciated it for what it tells me about the health of my body. And I've always liked that it's a completely un-chemically way of avoiding pregnancy if we need to. But I'm finally seeing the beauty of it as a part of marriage. It definitely calls a person to a higher level of marital love. You cannot be selfish and practice Natural Family Planning - those two things just don't work together. You must constantly be thinking of the well-being of your spouse -- and, believe me, that is a sensational way to grow in holiness. It's no wonder that so few NFP couples ever get divorced. When you're actively and frequently thinking about your spouse and the good of your family over your own wants or needs, you're bound to have a pretty healthy marriage (especially when you're both working together.)

I don't have a good closing for this post except to say that if you're not using NFP, I highly recommend it. You are missing out!

Oh and here are some resources if you're extra motivated to check some stuff out:
Different NFP Methods
Natural... Why Not? (pdf)


  1. I'm glad it's worked out for you guys....but I do have to comment on one thing that well, it doesn't concern me so much as make me wonder - because a pregnancy would have been more dangerous for you after Will it seems like the man has to be the "more" unselfish person in a situation like that and that seems really unequal and unfair to me. Maybe I'm just reading something into it that's not there, but that was the one thing that sort of popped up in my head when I read that. Can anyone else kind of put better words into my comment - cause I don't think I'm asking the right thing. Of course, you know I disagree that a healthy marriage is always the result of NFP or that you can't have one while using other methods of birth control or family planning or whatever, but NFP does seem less like what I always thought it was thanks to your links. So I'm definitely more educated on it.

  2. Just a comment from another family who practices NFP, Kathlee. You constantly are talking with your partner about whether your family is ready for a new member or if it is better to wait. He also knows what is going on with your cycle so you are both aware if you should be doing it or abstaining based on what you decide (ready for another baby or not). So it isn't really an issue of being more unselfish, but saying "I love you so much that I will respect the decision that we have said is best for our family and best for each other." In Kristi and Andrew's situation (not to put words in you mouth Kristi!), it wasn't about Andrew being more unselfish, but more showing her how much he loved her and wanted what was best and healthiest for her. NFP is thinking about what is best for you spouse and you just don't think about how "unselfish" it makes you. Communication is one of the keys of a good marriage and if you are comfortable enough to speak with you partner about your cycle and making babies, then I have found anyways, that I can really talk to him about anything.

  3. It was just the use of the word unselfish then - although I do know that despite not using NFP my husband and I somehow manage to communicate all of those things....

    Also, I just re-read the last paragraph of the post Kristi, and that totally clarified things, so perhaps I just missed it or just jumped onto that one word. Anyway, lovely post - I love the image of you blushing everytime sex comes up.

  4. Great post! NFP is very hard to embrace unless one believes Life is gift from God. Giving up cintrol and giving it to God (even when practicing NFP to avoid a pregnancy) is a huge leap of faith.