It’s Natural Family Planning Awareness Week and I tell you what – in our house, we’re all too aware of NFP. It’s downright one of the most meticulous, tangly aspects of our marriage and at the same time one of God’s greatest blessings – a tool that enables us to follow his design for marriage and family. NFP is a challenge and treasure, both binding and free. It is absolutely worth it and crucial to Andrew’s and my sacrament. Enjoy this revamped post from just a couple of years ago – my notes from an encouraging meeting on Natural Family Planning.
I just came home from a fantastic Ladies Night Out get-together about Natural Family Planning. The evening was complete with strawberries, wine, and plenty of laughs over what isn’t so taboo anymore among Catholics.
First, a fact:
There are two inherent aspects to the marital act – the unitive and the procreative. It brings spouses closer together and allows for the procreation of children. Practicing NFP encourages both parts, and coupled with prayerful discernment from spouses, it leads to a pretty amazing marriage and family life.
Some wisdom from the night with my own thoughts peppered in:
*Practicing NFP encourages creativity and spontaneity. Especially if you’re abstaining, you think of other ways to express affection to your spouse – a surprise night on the town, a movie and popcorn at home, a few hours of talking over coffee or drinks, tuning into the comedian stations on Pandora; write your spouse a love note, preset the car CD player so his/her favorite song turns on when they start the car (we do this all the time), go outside and shoot Nerf guns. Expressing your love and affection in other ways helps you see the entire personhood of your spouse rather than focusing primarily on sexuality.
*Accepting fertility does not mean you have to have as many babies as possible
* “Every child you have, expected or not, will share eternity with you. That new soul would not have had the chance to experience Heaven without your openness to life and welcoming God to work through your marriage.” – one of our NFP instructors, quoting her husband who is a veteran pediatrician
*Practicing NFP calls for discernment as to whether you should postpone pregnancy or welcome it at a given time; and so often couples get scared of conceiving because they think it’ll be the loss of peace and start of chaotic misery – to this idea my friend Emily suggested, “Discern in terms of ‘for the rest of your life’ rather than just life right at this moment. I’ve never heard anyone say years after having children, ‘I really wish we didn’t have that one last kid,’ but I’ve heard plenty of people say, ‘It would have been nice to have had at least one more.'”
*One girl mentioned that she thought having irregular cycles would prevent her and her husband from using NFP to postpone or achieve pregnancy; and she couldn’t believe how well it worked following her body’s particular behaviors. “If you learn about it, it really can work for everyone.”
*NFP isn’t just for married couples; single women can use it to learn their bodies’ natural rhythms to solve problems of long, painful cycles, and hormone imbalances and deficiencies.
*NFP utilizes the God-given gift of human reason without abandoning the God-given gift of procreation.
*NFP is full of success stories because of how people use it. When used to postpone pregnancy, NFP works. When used to achieve pregnancy, NFP works. When a life is conceived – expected or not – NFP works because by its very nature, it is open to life and God’s hand in your family planning.
*There is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy; a baby may be a surprise, but every life is planned by God.
Find more information check out these sites: The Marquette Method, Couple to Couple League, the Pope Paul VI Institute on for the Study of Human Reproduction (awesome place in Omaha that works with couples long distance to overcome infertility!), and general information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
edited repost from 7/24/2013