Written by Teaching Couple Mitchell and Chelsea Duplantis. Originally published in Family Foundations.
Chelsea: I started taking the birth control pill when I was in high school. All of my friends were on it and I was also beginning to date, so I thought it was a smart idea. I was loosely raised Catholic, but I did not know the teachings on birth control. I did know, though, that I wasn’t supposed to have sex before marriage, but I hated that rule. I did not understand the why behind it.
Mitchell: Meanwhile, I went to a Catholic high school, and had learned more deeper details about the faith early on.
Chelsea: I started college in 2014 and at that point my birth control was starting to make me very sick. I was always nauseous and very moody, so I decided at some point to just stop taking the pill. While I
didn’t know it then, I have since learned that birth control can actually be very unhealthy. I’m glad now that I got sick and, therefore, stopped taking it. It was just a few months after I got off the pill that Mitchell and I met.
Mitchell: When we met, Chelsea was really interested in my knowledge about the faith, so we spent time in those first few months of our relationship studying and learning more about Catholicism. We tried to attend most events at the Catholic student center on campus, and when they started a Theology of the Body class we signed up because neither of us really knew what it was.
Chelsea: Learning Theology of the Body changed my life. Like I said in the beginning, I never understood the church’s “rules” on sex and marriage, and learning about TOB opened my heart and soul to what I now see as the beauty of those teachings. I finally understood why I, as a Catholic, had all these rules. It wasn’t because God wanted to punish me, it was because He had a perfect plan for me, a plan designed to bring me happiness and peace. I had struggled with this deep desire to be loved; but I was always looking for love in the wrong places. Through TOB I came to see that this desire to be loved is good, not bad, but that God wants to fill it with his love and the love of my husband. It was this new perspective that opened the door to us learning NFP. If it wasn’t for learning Theology of the Body, I would not have been so attracted to NFP and willing to learn it.
Mitchell: One night at the Catholic student center there was a speaker who gave a short presentation on what NFP was and how a woman’s cycle worked. As a guy, this was the first time I had learned anything about fertility, and honestly, I didn’t understand much of it. Later this same person had an event at the diocesan center and we decided to go because this one was more in depth.
Chelsea: These talks gave me the tools and knowledge to start charting. We weren’t married at this point, but I was excited to start. I wanted to learn more about my specific cycle. All my life I believed I had irregular cycles so I was excited to find out what was wrong with my body, if anything. So for me, NFP is not just good for postponing or conceiving a pregnancy. It has been a tool for me to understand my body. It was super eye opening to learn that my long cycles were not necessarily something wrong; they were just long. Through charting I could know when to expect my period, and that made my life much less stressful.
Mitchell: Going into all of this I had the common idea that NFP was the calendar method and that it didn’t work, but I was pleasantly surprised. As Chelsea said, she’s always had what we thought were irregular cycles and we found out her cycles fell within normal range. Just like everything in life, cycles are not cookie cutter and each person is different. Because I understand Chelsea’s cycle, I can really understand what is happening in her body and sympathize with her when she has some cycle discomforts. I don’t have to just chalk everything up to her PMSing like a lot of other men. After we got married I started helping her remember to take her temperature and also to interpret her chart. This way we’re both fully informed when we discuss and make decisions about the size and spacing of our family. Being able to talk to each other about our fertility has brought down one of the walls between us that we suspect hold many couples back from giving their all to the other person.
Chelsea: So why do we practice NFP? For me, I love that Mitchell loves me completely, fertility and all. With NFP, we don’t feel reduced to an object of pleasure and sex isn’t just a recreational pastime. I love
that we are always trying to keep sex aligned with God’s perfect plan for our marriage, which is to not only be procreative but to also bring us closer as a couple and closer to him. I love that we get to do this together, as well. It takes a huge weight off my shoulders to know that Mitchell is here doing this with me and supporting me.
Mitchell: I can see that NFP has brought us closer together. It is something constant in our marriage
that has kept us grounded; it brings us back to God and helps us focus on the other person. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I believe NFP has made me into much more of a man than I was before we got married. It helps me love Chelsea wholly and freely, and it guides me to want to lead our family to God
on his terms and on his path.
Chelsea: We hope through teaching NFP to other couples that we can bring this joy to other marriages and families. We are excited to help other couples connect with each other, communicate and live fully in line with God’s plan.