From the Family Foundations archives
Starting out with NFP can be difficult, especially if you do not have a lot of support around you. In that spirit, we share this collection of letters we received in response to a letter once published in CCL’s magazine from one such couple who felt alone.
I am 27 years old and my husband is 28. We are also newlyweds, looking forward to our first anniversary at the end of the year. We took NFP classes six months before our wedding because it gave me a chance to get to know my cycles without the added interference of sexual involvement. Once we were married, my husband took over the chart and the thermometer, and all I have to do is report to him on the status of my mucus. We find it very helpful in following what’s going on throughout the month, and also enjoy the added benefits of closeness, communication and knowing that we are using God’s gifts as he would like us to.
We are currently using NFP to try to conceive, and we pray that God will bless our union and make us fruitful.
NFP is worth it! It has drawn us closer to each other and to God. Don’t become discouraged by the world around you.
— L.N., OH
I am 28 and my husband is 32. We have been using NFP for about five years and have found it effective, fulfilling, and simply, right!
I must say we were very fearful to trust in the method in the beginning, and we had to try hard to just let go and take that leap of faith and trust that it would work. It was very scary. After all, why wouldn’t doctors acknowledge NFP if it really worked? Why wouldn’t it be more mainstream, more common? Why should we believe this little group of Catholics and not the health professionals?
To ease these doubts, we read. Or actually, I read as much as I could find, then together we attended CCL classes and decided we would close our eyes, trust God and use the method. And guess what? It works! We have one son, a planned pregnancy, and can state that in our years of using the method, we have experienced 100% effectiveness.
I am focusing on that aspect of the method (the “does it really work?” fear) because that was our biggest obstacle to adopting it as part of our lives. We have no friends or family who use the method, either, but for us that wasn’t really an issue. I just want to allay any fears you may have of trusting in the effectiveness of NFP. It’s a bit difficult in the early months to feel confident, but that is what your teaching couple is there for – call them if you have questions about your charts. Eventually using NFP will become second nature to you.
You’re on the right track. The spiritual blessings from NFP will enrich your marriage and benefit your family in so many ways.
— L.S., MI
My husband and I have been married for 10 months – I’m 23 and he is 24. I wanted to write and offer a little encouragement because we deeply believe in NFP and the attitudes it is based on, even though practicing chastity and abstinence is not always easy for us.
My husband was born and raised Catholic, but I grew up Protestant (I joined the Catholic Church in college). In fact, my mother left the Catholic Church when she was my age because she disagreed with its stance on birth control (among other reasons). As I looked into the issue, though, the Bible seemed to say that God has a much more special plan for sex than it being just a means of “making myself feel good,” like society seems to say today. The more my husband and I learned about NFP and the Church’s teaching on love, children and what a blessing God intended families to be, the more convinced we became.
We don’t have any close friends who practice NFP either, although it helped to take NFP classes from a very supportive older couple. I do have several married women friends on the pill, and I’ve heard them complain about feeling “out of it” because of it. NFP seems like a healthier, if more challenging, approach. So please keep the faith!
— M.R., OH
My husband and I have been married one year and one month. We have been practicing NFP since our wedding. We were introduced to NFP through Catholic engaged counseling. I am Baptist yet my husband is Catholic, so we had to go through sessions with the local priest, attend Engaged Encounter, and listen to talks on NFP by Dr. Janet Smith. I was extremely impressed with the method and often wonder why this is not more common.
I was glad to see your letter looking for support. It is nice to know that there are others who believe in NFP at our age. Most of my friends do not agree with us, or at least not enough to practice it like we do. I have told many people about it and others are just not open to it, including my mother. She is still in shock that we have not gotten pregnant accidentally. Unfortunately, I feel that there are many people who don’t believe that there is a way without contraception.
— K.G., MS
Sometimes it seems like we are the only newlyweds using NFP. I just turned 27 and my husband is 28. We’ve been married a little over two years and have been using NFP for 20 months.
We both grew up Protestant and are very committed to our Christian walk. I went on the pill when we married and after eight months of a very bad experience with it, we decided it just wasn’t worth it.
We had the opportunity to go on an Engaged Encounter weekend prior to our marriage and had been exposed to NFP there. Of course, at the time we never anticipated using it. But after going through the ups and downs of the pill, we recalled the NFP information and found a local church that hosted the classes. We were immediately hooked and have grown in our appreciation of its practices and principles. For us, it has been a blessing.
We have encouraged other young couples to learn about NFP, yet the pill always seems to be the only option people are aware of. The Protestant churches don’t promote NFP, so for us not only does it feel like we’re the only couples in their 20s using NFP, but the only Protestants as well!
Fortunately, we have very supportive families who know how awful it was for me to be on the pill. My biggest frustration is with my doctors. I haven’t found one who is supportive of NFP, and yet my husband and I think it is great. We both love being involved in charting and appreciate our greater understanding of how I work physically. We feel so much more educated.
Being members of CCL has been very valuable to us, too. We have been exposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church that we wouldn’t have otherwise, and this has opened our minds to various ideas.
— L.S., PA
I turned 27 last May, and my husband just turned 30. We have been married since this past June.
I have also wondered if there was anyone else out there my age trying to use NFP. I learned about it from my older sister, and I feel especially lucky to have learned about it prior to my marriage. I have gotten the impression that many couples turn to NFP after having used some form of artificial birth control. I feel confident that I won’t ever go on the pill, yet for so many years I just assumed I always would.
My husband has asthma and some health-related problems. As a result, he is very health-oriented and a lot has rubbed off on me. Now I would really hate to take something as unnatural as the pill.
Along with that, my beliefs and understanding of the Church’s teaching against contraception have developed. I hadn’t been exposed to the Church’s reasoning before, and I feel good knowing that, at least in this regard, I am living my life in a way that is pleasing to God.
As for intimacy, I like knowing that when my husband and I make love it could lead to new life. Something about that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that our acts are not cheapened in any way, but are completely open to their fullest meaning. And when we are abstaining, it is so that we live within God’s and nature’s laws. That whole thing just feels right to me.
I am especially grateful that my husband respects me, cares about the Church’s teaching, and cares about my health enough to be willing to follow NFP. Most guys I know wouldn’t go for the abstinence.
We still have a long way to go with NFP. We’re young, but I can’t imagine us ever changing on this issue. I’m so glad we started our marriage this way so didn’t have a chance to experience marriage without abstinence. Maybe we’re better off not knowing what we’re missing! Even though we are missing out on being sexually intimate every time we want, we are benefiting from the mutual love, respect and growth that comes with NFP.
— S.S., IN
I am 27 and my husband is 29. We have been married for four years and have been practicing NFP a little more than half of our marriage. I came around to NFP when I was confirmed into the Catholic Church about two years ago. I want to encourage you and your husband to continue with NFP and to let you know that there are others out there like you.
We took the classes because I realized that I could not pick and choose which teachings of the Church to practice. I had listened to one of my close friends say something like, “The God I believe in doesn’t work that way,” and it struck me that religion had become something infinitely malleable to her; that it was something she could just mold to her lifestyle, instead of vice versa. I realized at that moment that I would be the same way if I didn’t stop using contraception.
Even after taking the class and beginning to practice NFP, I was still somewhat unsure as to the difference between NFP and contraception. I knew the arguments, but I had not truly understood them in my heart. However, we kept using NFP and prayed for understanding. I slowly began to see more profoundly the true beauty of marriage and sexuality. I have become only more committed to NFP as time has passed and have tried to coax friends into looking at NFP seriously.
Unfortunately, the majority of our friends and family are not supportive, and some are outright hostile toward us for using NFP. They don’t want to give up the ease of artificial methods, and sure don’t want abstinence to be part of their efforts. What is interesting to note, though, is that several of my friends have become interested in NFP when they have been unable to conceive.
The hardest time we had was a year ago when we became pregnant. We had become more and more open to the idea of children and began to realize that we didn’t have a serious reason to practice NFP. Although I still charted, we stopped worrying about Peak Days and thermal shifts, and I became pregnant. We were happy, but also concerned we hadn’t done the right thing.
You see, I was just 25 years old, my husband had just started a new job, and was finishing law school at night. We had some debt, including a lot of student loans, and no savings. We had no house and lived in an expensive city. I was still undecided about pursuing a graduate degree myself. What we needed was some reassurance, but several family members were upset about our pregnancy. We listened to discouraging remarks about NFP, and it still hurts me to remember how alone we felt.
Our daughter was born in February and having her to love is enough vindication for me, although I admit to being sorely tempted sometimes to remind the doting relatives that she would not be here today if we had been using contraception. We would never have been open to having a child if we were still using contraception because it allowed us to be caught up in ourselves and material things. All the financial worries we have are manageable and seem small when compared to the joy our daughter brings to us every day.
I could go on and on about the many things that have grown out of our using NFP: I know my body much better; I have become more open to my husband and he to me; I am more deeply religious and have greater awe of God and his works; etc.
I hope this letter is of some encouragement to you. The greatest support you and your husband have is each other, and the stronger your belief in NFP, the less it will bother you that others are unsupportive.
— J.S., CA
CCL’s award-winning Family Foundations is the only NFP magazine in the United States and is a great source of support. Visit here to learn more.