It’s that time of year to make life-changing resolutions we inevitably forget by mid-March!
Think back to all the New Year’s resolutions you’ve kept. If you can remember any at all, there’s probably only one or two that had any real effect on your life.
That’s because of the Commitment Triangle:
Basically, there are three ways this can go:
- If I make a really intense resolution (like, say, to lose 45 lbs) and I really want it to work, it has to be one of the only resolutions I make until it’s accomplished.
- If I want to make more than one effective resolution, they can’t be very intense or high-maintenance.
- If I chose to make a bunch of really intense resolutions (like, lose 35 lbs, get a six-pack, cut my leisure spending in half, stop using foul language, AND attend daily Mass), my ability to effectively commit to ANY of them will inevitably suffer.
Number 3 is obviously a waste of time, so there are really only two ways to make resolutions that will count: Either plan one simple but life-changing switch and give it everything you’ve got; or plan a few (but no more than three!) “easy” changes that will have far-reaching effects.
The beauty of a switch to NFP is that it basically combines both of these options into one.
Resolving to take an NFP class is a big resolution because it’s a time commitment. But actually practicing NFP — which is the true objective here — is all about the little things: check the symptoms, record them daily and, if applicable, discuss openly with the spouse.
These little pieces of a big resolution can have some far-reaching effects:
1. You’ll practice self-mastery.
The same skills that make it possible to get into shape are baked into NFP. At the very least, you’ll have to commit to check certain symptoms and make sure they get recorded — even when you don’t feel like it. If you’re married and charting, you’ll need to discuss the results of the charts — even when you don’t feel like it. Depending on your circumstances, there may be seasons of life in which you’ll need to abstain from sex — usually exactly when you really don’t feel like it.
Getting good at self-control makes us better at lots of things: from being a better writer to being a better spouse.
2. You’ll learn about your body, and even make it healthier.
Many women who chart find that they’re much more aware of their bodies than they were before they learned to read fertility signs. They notice more quickly when something is off (from stress to diet to the common cold, it’s all on that graph paper!) and women often find big problems like cancer or PCOS in time to treat or even prevent them.
3. You’ll grow in spirituality.
One of the most powerful evangelistic tools we have are our own bodies. God thought so, too — he took on human flesh! As you grow in wonder and awe of the delicate balance that keeps you alive and kicking, you’ll likewise grow in love and amazement at the God behind it all.
4. You’ll build tools for a better marriage.
If you’re not married, you’ll still be building that self-mastery that’s so integral to human flourishing now and marital flourishing eventually. But if you’re already married, you’ll have all that and more.
Fertility is a sensitive and vulnerable subject. Making it a regular topic of discussion within your relationship helps to build intimacy with your spouse, and the more you practice the easier these conversations become. And these are conversations that can make a difference.
NFP opens up conversations about sex, which are opportunities to make your love life better, more sacrificial and more fulfilling. It opens up conversations about emotions, helping you to be more sensitive to one another’s needs. Most of all, it opens up conversations about life, goals and God, making your communal prayer life — the most vulnerable intimacy of all — deeper and more meaningful.
5. You’ll live a more natural, green life.
Most resolutions aim to make physical, mental, emotional or spiritual improvements. But NFP has the added bonus of environmental improvement, too. Choosing to forgo the hormone-packed pills, implants and patches means not passing them into water and landfills, either.
It’s an intense commitment, but it’s comprised of smaller, totally manageable resolutions.
You can be healthier this year.
You can be happier this year.
You can be more loving to yourself, your spouse, and your environment.
You can learn NFP.
— CCL Staff Member