From the Family Foundations archives
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For the many engaged couples enrolled in an NFP class, one of the biggest concerns is facing a honeymoon that falls during the fertile time of the cycle. That calls for a lot of prayerful discernment, especially if you were already feeling as if you needed to postpone pregnancy for a bit. A while back we asked the readers of Family Foundations magazine who experienced this dilemma how they handled it. Here are some of their responses.
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As I write this my wedding day is less than a week away. We knew setting the date near the end of any month would be our best bet if we wanted to fully consummate our marriage.
So in April we set our date for October 26. In July I ran into difficulty. I became unemployed which affected my waking hours, and more importantly, my eating habits. As a result, much to our regret, I had the longest recorded cycle yet — 40 days. Now it looked like I’d be fertile for our honeymoon.
My fiancé and I began discussing our options as we continued to try and remain chaste. We knew two things: we definitely felt we should postpone a baby at first, and we didn’t want to use any kind of artificial birth control. Really all we could do was wait and see.
As it looks now, my infertile time should soon follow our honeymoon, and we have made the decision to wait. This bothered me more than him, and he has reminded me that we will have the rest of our lives to enjoy and share each other. Either way, if I am fertile or not, we realize that what is important is that we are together with God, and as God is patient with us, we will be patient with my cycle.
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I say don’t worry! Enjoy your honeymoon! If the Lord decides that you should conceive, you should be open to his plan for you and trust Him completely. A huge purpose of marriage is to bring children into the world.
My sister is the closest friend I have. She conceived on her honeymoon and had a beautiful baby girl nine months later. She always dreamed of having a large family, or as she would say, “as many as the Lord sends me.” I even assisted her in purchasing a large table that would sit “at least six children” around it. She has never been able to conceive since, and it has been 10 years.
I have five children and we often talk and sometimes laugh at how we are different sides of the spectrum. Her longing for more children and loving mine as she does really makes me appreciate and know what blessings children are and how special the gift of fertility is. Maybe if she hadn’t conceived on her honeymoon she never would have.
No matter what our reasons are for postponing pregnancies in our marriages, if it isn’t the will of God, it isn’t right. Let us remember the blessings God gives us in the Sacrament of Marriage and trust in Him to guide us.
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My husband and I had good reasons for postponing pregnancy in the early days of our marriage. As luck would have it, our honeymoon coincided perfectly with my infertile days, and we knew God was smiling on us. As it turned out, however I had miscalculated my cycle, and lo and behold, three weeks after our wedding I discovered I was pregnant.
We were less than overjoyed — not that we didn’t want children, but as we said over and over again during that time, “It’s just bad timing.” Well, God knows best, because this child has turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us. The timetable we had set for our life (moving across the state, buying a house, my husband’s new job) was not His timetable. As it turned out, the pregnancy was perfectly timed for all our plans.
Given that each sperm and egg produces a completely different child, we can’t imagine having anyone different than this one, and we sometimes shudder at the thought, that had we had our way, this little boy would not be with us today.
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We weren’t lucky enough to be at an infertile time on our honeymoon, but we didn’t get pregnant right away either. We abstained. Believe it or not, you don’t have to have intercourse on your wedding night!
My husband and I went into our marriage mature enough to know that intercourse on our honeymoon wasn’t the first priority. Mutual respect and shared lifetime goals were much more important. Sure, it was hard, but we’d waited our whole lives to give ourselves to each other. What did a couple more weeks matter?
It would be interesting to take a survey of all newly married couples to see how many actually have intercourse on their wedding night. The results might be surprising.
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When my husband and I were engaged, I had strong feelings to wait a year before getting pregnant. A few months before our wedding day, I was calculating whether or not I would be fertile. As the day came closer, I became anxious because I knew my ovulation was being delayed and not following my previous cycle patterns.
What to do on our wedding night? I made my new husband aware of the possibility of a pregnancy and we decided to take our chances. We thought maybe it wouldn’t happen, plus we were so in love and wanted to consummate our marriage. We were so happy to be together we thought we would leave it up to God.
A few weeks later I realized I was pregnant. There were mixed emotions of disappointment and happiness that we both talked about. Well, pregnancy does take nine months and that gave us plenty of time to get used to the idea and we became very excited and anxious waiting for the birth.
When our son was born on Valentine’s Day there was such a feeling of joy that overwhelmed us that we both cried. I cannot imagine what we would have missed out on if we did not do God’s will.
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As our wedding date approached, we kept a watchful eye on my chart so we’d know where I would be in my cycle on our honeymoon. Not knowing, of course, if we’d be able to consummate our marriage on the honeymoon, we planned a trip so as to avoid “sources of temptation” (i.e., we avoided a beach so my husband wouldn’t spend days seeing me in a bathing suit!).
We planned our honeymoon in an area where there was a lot to do — San Francisco. There were a lot of attractions to keep us busy. We had something planned for every day and this worked out well — my infertile time did not come until two weeks after the wedding! It was very hard on the honeymoon at times, but the Lord helped us to control our passions. We were then able to be together a few days after we returned home.
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My husband and I started our marriage four years ago believing in NFP as the only way to live our married life. We took the classes before we were married and through prayer and discussion decided we would postpone starting our family. We discussed the possibility that our honeymoon would end up smack in the middle of Phase II, and decided if it did, we would wait until we were in Phase III to physically celebrate our marriage vows.
As it turned out, I experienced the longest cycle of my history (65 days!) due to the stress and excitement of a new home and husband. We prayerfully and anxiously awaited our precious thermal shift for a month after we were married. We finally celebrated our physical union with much love and respect for each other, and with clear consciences. We believe this is the way to a wonderful Christian marriage — God is in on all of our decision.
We now have a beautiful 13-month-old son who is expecting a brother or sister. Our advice is to practice NFP with no reservations, talk to each other, pray together and put your marriage in God’s capable hands.
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Two months before my wedding my NFP chart enabled me to realize ovulation may occur the first day of my honeymoon. Even though I was raised in a large Catholic family, the possibility of conceiving the first year of marriage deeply bothered me. I didn’t realize at the time how much society’s materialism had penetrated my strong Catholic upbringing regarding children and marriage. Like many engaged couples, I planned finishing my education, buying the “perfect” house complete with furnishings before having children. The fantasy of a cozy house and a mother who wanted to stay home because she already proved herself in the workplace appeared perfect to me.
Luckily, I was blessed with a fiancé who encouraged me not to worry about the things I had no power to change. I also had many conversations with my mother about this. When my anxiety over a possible pregnancy kept increasing, she rightly replied one day that if I refused to accept children when God saw fit, then I was incapable of a genuine Catholic marriage.
Well, that frankness broke through to me. After weeks of lamenting the real possibility of conceiving on my honeymoon, I finally left this matter in God’s hands.
My husband and I did have relations during our honeymoon, and much to our surprise we did not conceive. The real irony is that during our second month of marriage, we were so impressed with how we managed not to conceive during the first month’s fertile time that we threw all caution to the wind and conceived this month. We both realized that we truly believed children to be a blessing, regardless of how long (or short) a marriage is. What prevented us from knowing this at the beginning was a self-centered attitude we unknowingly adopted from society that claims a couple who waits to have children is somehow a happier, more mature team.
About 11 months after our wedding, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Neither of us can imagine marriage without her.
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