Originally Published in Family Foundations. Milton and Sandra Garcia share this witness talk with the
couples they teach in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Sandra is a bilingual FSI Coach as well.
Sandra: We started as friends, members of the same youth group of our parish. Friendship turned into love and after about two years of dating, we were engaged. Although our families were devoted Catholics, we knew very little about the teaching of the Church in regard to sexuality. However, as we became leaders in our Catholic youth group, we felt that extra responsibility of being good role models for our friends.
Milton: I first heard of NFP when I was in a high school youth group, although at that time I wasn’t really interested in knowing more. Later, after hearing about all the STDs and different contraceptives and their side effects in my high school sex education classes, I remember thinking that wasn’t something I wanted for my future wife. But life went on and I forgot about most of what I read and it wasn’t until Sandra and I started going steady that some things came back to my mind. I wanted to find something different for us. During some of our dates we talked about how previous relationships had felt empty, hollow or that something was missing, and we didn’t want this relationship to feel that way.
Sandra: Some really good friends of ours informed us about NFP. They were the only registered teaching couple in our city. It was such a blessing to have them as friends. Their friendship would eventually benefit our marriage tremendously. I found their introduction about NFP very exciting, for I had never heard about such a thing before and the best part was that this method of family planning was encouraged by the Catholic Church! Still, I, of course, also had my doubts. How could a natural method be as effective as the pill, I wondered? For me, it took practicing it to believe it.
Milton: We took our first class about three months before our wedding. I remember being anxious since I didn’t know how detailed or explicit the class was going to be, and it didn’t help that our teachers were our friends, but I did want to impress Sandra so I went with an open mind to listen and learn. After hearing about charting and that all I had to do was hand her the thermometer each morning, I thought it was going to be easy. Plus, since I could figure out when her infertile times were going to be, it became a game for me to try and be more romantic around those times! Several years into it now, I won’t lie and say that it’s been that easy, especially during the times after our children were born when there is more uncertainty of her fertile times. But I can say that NFP has helped me to grow as a person and as a husband. Over the years I have learned to be patient, to continue being romantic with Sandra — even when it’s difficult with three kids needing your attention every day — and to learn to be attentive to her cycle. Knowing about Sandra’s cycle helps me to be attentive to her physical and emotional needs and to try to be there for her. I truly believe that if we used the pill or condoms, we would not have the level of emotional intimacy that comes with being in tune with each other’s sexuality. For us, it’s no longer about pleasure for the sake of pleasure, but it is about giving ourselves completely to each other, being one in body and spirit.
Sandra: I have always felt empowered by knowing my body the way I do. After more than 10 years of using NFP, I have no trouble pinpointing the week of peak fertility. We used NFP to plan the pregnancies of our three children. In our case, exclusive and continued breastfeeding has provided extended periods of infertility. We have always tried to be conservative with the rules of the method in order to avoid a pregnancy until we were ready. But I will never forget the feeling of freedom, the combination of excitement and nervousness of making love on those days that we knew we were fertile, hoping that together with God we might participate in the incredible act of pro-creation. Each time it was an exciting moment when, looking at the chart, we realized we were expecting even before taking a pregnancy test.
Milton: Sandra’s charts have always fascinated me; the ability to see her patterns and predict very
closely when we could conceive our children was always exciting! Plus, I always look forward to putting the checkmark on the top line. If you don’t know what the checkmark means, you will find out very soon! Using NFP, each cycle has brought its own blessings and challenges, but we have grown so much closer together during this time that I don’t see us ever using any other method. The periods of fertility when we abstain from sex help us to grow as a couple. We talk more, express our love through hugs and kisses and looking after each other, and it does build up the anticipation and excitement for the times when we can be together. And now that I have children, I look forward to telling them about NFP because in a way it has helped me become the father that I am. NFP has brought so much to my family that I want other husbands to know about it and enjoy the benefits.
Sandra: Those friends of ours who had introduced us to NFP have now moved, and our city was left without any instructors. We realized that very few engaged and married couples know about NFP. There is very little or no promotion of the method in our church. The medical community easily promotes all different types of contraception but never even mentions any fertility awareness methods. At my last postpartum appointment, my Ob/Gyn wanted to talk to us about contraception, and when we told him that we have been successfully practicing NFP for over 10 years, he dismissed that and assured us we would be back with another pregnancy. It was then that we felt the call to become teachers ourselves. How could we not, when NFP has been a blessing in our marriage? We want others to know about it.
Sandra is now a FSI coach and helps couples and women in both English and Spanish with one on one fertility awareness coaching. Find out more at fertilityscienceinstitute.org/coaching