DCA: How did you come to decide to use Natural Family Planning (NFP) in your marriage?
: In college, we were doing a lot of searching. At first I really struggled with the Church's teaching on contraception, but the more we dug into it, the more we couldn't deny the truth. Tammy was also looking for something natural so she wouldn't have to take hormones. After we learned and understood what NFP really was, we knew it was for us. It is effective and we knew it was truly following God’s plan for marriage.
: Our parish priest told us what the Church teaches about contraception and we wanted to be true to Christ’s teaching in our marriage, so we attended the class he suggested and began learning about it six months prior to our wedding.
DCA: Is NFP based on guesswork?
: NFP does not use any guesswork. Modern NFP uses objective rules based on sound science that accurately determines the days a woman is fertile or infertile. Couples are free to take chances, but they know the probability of conception may be greater depending on the situation. Trials have found user effectiveness to be greater than 97 percent (which is higher user effectiveness than birth control).
: People who say that it isn’t reliable often do not have accurate information about how it works or may not be using it correctly to begin with. It should also be known that there are methods available that are reliable for helping couples who suffer with infertility or other women’s gynecological health issues.
DCA: Is NFP restrictive to your sex life?
: No, not really. It does require sacrifice though. If, through prayer and communication, you feel you are not ready to accept the responsibility of another child, then you have to abstain during the fertile time, which can be difficult. Once that time is over though, it is exciting to be together again.
: It can be. I do appreciate the fact that Jon and I are on the same page, and how understanding he is when it is necessary to abstain. It's not easy, but we are in this together.
: When you open your heart to God's plan and work with NFP in your marriage, it actually becomes freeing.
DCA: How has NFP blessed your marriage?
: NFP has helped us practice responsible parenthood and helped us see God calling us to start our family. It has really helped us keep God at the center of our lives and especially our marriage.
: It has made us more aware of our fertility and has also helped us realize that while we are in control as far as knowing when we are fertile, the number of children with which we are blessed will always be up to God, and God alone.
: It has blessed us with five beautiful children, a deeper respect for each other and self-control in a society that promotes instant gratification.
DCA: What is difficult about NFP?
: Postpartum can be a challenging time when approaching the return to fertility because the hormones can fluctuate and make things more difficult to interpret, which can lead to longer periods of abstinence if trying to postpone pregnancy.
: There are stages that a woman may go through, like breastfeeding and pre-menopause, where a woman may experience changes in her cycles. During those times it can be difficult to get used to new signs and symptoms. These may seem difficult at the time, but when you look back on them, they were really not all that bad and they were times of growth for us.
: Understanding God's will and trusting when it is the right time to postpone a pregnancy can be difficult.
DCA: What do you think is the greatest misconception about NFP among Catholics and society?
: I think a common misconception is that NFP doesn’t work because many people who practice it have lots of kids. This does not mean that NFP does not work, but just that the people who are practicing it understand the meaning of marriage and God has called them and has blessed them with many children.
: I think a major misconception about NFP is that people make a knee-jerk interpretation that the Church is outdated without looking into the richness and depth of its teaching. The documents of the Church show how deep its understanding of human sexuality really is.
DCA: From your experience, why is the Church right about NFP and contraception?
: Pope Paul VI in his encyclical “Humane Vitae” predicted what we are seeing today in our society through the widespread use of contraception*. Many were opposed to his teaching at the time, but the Holy Spirit has always guided the Church in the right path.
: The church teaches that NFP is not only about having or postponing children, but also about strengthening marriage and growing in relationship with God. I don't think contraception has the same result.
: It seems like more and more often society depicts children as a burden. Instead of children being the focus of family life, more emphasis is placed on accumulating things. Children are a blessing, and they are the future. The Church recognizes that—always has, always will.
DCA: If you could say anything to a couple that isn’t open to using NFP, what would tell them?
: Pray about it and ask yourself if contraception has strengthened or weakened your marriage.
: Just try it. Give it a fighting chance. Don't give up on it right away!
: If a couple is using contraception, we believe there is some part of them, even if it’s deep down and undiscovered at this point, that tells them that something is just not right with it. NFP is safe, natural and works in harmony with God’s plan for them.
: Don't fear that if you learn about it you may someday want to use NFP and that it will somehow inconvenience your life. You have nothing to lose. We have taught many couples who have been so glad they learned NFP after being very hesitant.
*Pope Paul VI predicted in “Humanae Vitae” that widespread use of birth control would lead to infidelity and the lowering of moral standards; a loss of respect for women; an abuse of power by “public authorities” who care little about the moral law and may force the use of contraception/sterilization on all; and man’s belief in unlimited dominion over his body and its natural functions.
>> What is NFP?
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on specific observations of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
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