This week is Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness week. And TODAY is my 13th wedding anniversary. The beautiful irony that my anniversary always falls during (or very close to) NFP Awareness week is not lost on me. NFP was a "game-changer" in my marriage, in my opinion.
Today, I wanted to write a post to encourage couples who might read it to just give NFP a try. An honest-to-goodness try. That is all Craig and I agreed to do at the beginning of our journey 12 years ago. There are many things I could point to that have happened in our marriage as a result of NFP, but here are a few.
Because we tried NFP...
...we grew in our understanding and acceptance of the Catholic faith
...we learned to be more open with each other about sex
...we grew in respect and understanding for each other
...sex, fertility, having babies became a safe, sacred space in our marriage
...the physical observations led to treatments of hormone imbalances and luteal phase defects
...and because of the above, I believe we have avoided some heartbreak due to monitoring my progesterone early and often in pregnancy
These days, there's not a lot of encouragement to forego hormonal contraception, devices or barrier methods. There is a huge amount of encouragement to have one or two (sometimes three) kids and then get sterilized. But it's possible to have one or two (sometimes three) kids and continue on in life without altering your body or ingesting harmful chemicals or putting a barrier between you and your spouse.
While openness to five (so far) children has been a part of using NFP for my husband and me, it is not necessarily the plan for everyone. If there are reasons to limit the number of children, NFP is very good at accomplishing that.
So, I want to say to couples out there that might happen up on my blog today...
If you find yourselves in a place where you need to space babies or postpone pregnancy for a time, there is another way different from "the pill" or sponges, or diaphragms or condoms or IUD's or any other form of hormones. There is a way you can use that doesn't require sterilization. There is a way that is good for the environment, good for your body and I would challenge you to consider that it's good for your marriage.
NFP is another way. NFP is reliable. There are many methods of NFP, perhaps you will find one that works for you - different bodies have different challenges. We have used Sympto-Thermal, a variation of Creighton and now, Marquette. We've successfully avoided and achieved pregnancy for 12 years.
It might be hard, but in the end...it's all at least a little bit hard. Sometimes I think that because something is unknown, it seems like it would be too hard. Many times, I think we humans sell ourselves short in the self-control department because it takes work and discipline...and as humans, we're naturally averse to work and discipline.
It might be easy...you never know. Maybe you'll be happy to understand what is going on with a woman's body. Maybe it will excite you to learn something new, follow the rules and see how it works! My husband and I have been blessed with a temperament in our marriage that has made conforming our reproductive lives to this way using NFP peaceful and positive. It's true that our Catholic understanding of marriage had a big hand in that, but I think that a mature view of marriage - Catholic or not - lends itself to opening the marriage up to include a holistic approach to family planning.
My husband and I could have been married all these 13 years and never tried NFP. I honestly can't even think clearly about what our marriage and family would look like. My faith tells me that God planned and intended each of my children for the times and places in the world they have arrived. It scares me to think I was ignorant and would have had the power to change that if we hadn't given NFP a try.
I'm so glad we agreed to try NFP. It's made a world of difference for our marriage.