More young couples are getting excited about it. Men and women are anxious to share it with others. Even single women are curious about learning more.
After listening to a talk by Dr. Janet Smith titled “Contraception: Why Not?” Jill and Casey Gruman’s curiosity about Natural Family Planning peaked. Although they knew it existed, neither of them knew much about it.
After becoming engaged to be married, they decided to learn more about it—and also why the Catholic Church is so supportive of it. They had heard that the divorce rate for couples who use Natural Family Planning (NFP) is extremely low, and for a couple preparing to get married, this statistic caught their attention.
What NFP is…and is not
While the Grumans are excited about what NFP is, they were really excited at first about what NFP is
“There are no artificial hormones and no side effects,” explained Casey.
in your body and your body’s fertility, but NFP works with your body’s fertility,” added Jill.
The Grumans explain that NFP is the “natural, healthy, green” way to go, because to use NFP, a couple keeps record of natural signs given by a woman’s body based on where she is within her regular fertility cycle. Keeping a record of these signs helps to inform the couple of their fertile periods, helping them to more accurately plan for children.
These basic health benefits attracted the Grumans…and continue to attract other young couples. But the benefits go beyond just bodily health. “It just sounded like it was something
to do. It is a Church teaching, and so it must be something
,” explained Casey.
Holding nothing back
If NFP is a natural way to avoid a pregnancy, what makes it so different from artificial contraception? The Grumans agree that there is quite a bit that makes it different.
With contraception, “it’s as if you are saying ‘I love all of you, except that one part….your fertility.’ And that’s not really what love is,” shared Casey. “In Natural Family Planning, you are saying ‘I love ALL of you…no matter what.’”
The Grumans went on to explain that this is why NFP is
. It allows spouses to love each other completely. “There is a difference in mentality: artificial contraception is saying you don’t want to be responsible as a father; with NFP you are saying you would accept that responsibility as a father.”
The Grumans are convinced that it can be easy to use NFP in a “contraceptive mentality” if you aren’t discerning God’s plan for your family. “There is a discernment process… we commit to praying about it daily and giving it to God; wanting to do His will ultimately.”
Challenges and blessings
Jill and Casey admit that practicing NFP isn’t always easy for each of them to do. In fact, it can be really hard at times.
“We discerned for our first year and a half of marriage that it wasn’t God’s will to get pregnant, so it was hard at times to find other ways to show love and affection to the other,” Jill shared. The Grumans agreed that even small things can be trials when you first begin a marriage, and so at times, practicing NFP can be a real trial.
But Casey explained that all this difficulty can actually be a blessing. “Its challenges help bring you to a deeper intimacy in marriage, because you are going through a trial
,” shared Casey. Sure it isn’t easy. But it’s the difficulty that “keeps you in shape to be selfless and love the other person,” he said.
“A life open to God’s will is difficult at certain times, regardless of your vocation,” shared Jill. “Having to discern if you want to postpone or achieve a pregnancy brings you closer to God and keeps you more in tune to His will.”
Spreading the word
After Jill and Casey began using NFP in their own marriage, they constantly wanted to share it with others. And others could sense their excitement about it.
At the time, Jill was working at a clinic in Fargo. There, “a nurse saw our passion about NFP and about sharing it with our friends and she suggested that we look into teaching it.” There happened to be a training session coming up, and the Grumans signed up.
This is part of the reason that Jill was inspired to start a class at the University of Mary for young women about NFP, whether they are married or not. The classes started January 15 and will run through the end of March. Over 40 women have attended the sessions.
“In today’s culture, young women are constantly inundated with messages attacking a woman’s fertility, which results in a distorted view that fertility is a burden rather than a blessing,” said Jill.
They want to change this misunderstanding and share the beauty of fertility with young women. “When a woman, single or married, learns to chart her cycle, she is able to fully understand her body with confidence and embrace her fertility as the true gift that it is.”
More information on NFP in the Bismarck Diocese can be found here. For other questions, contact Amanda Ellerkamp, email@example.com.
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