We are an engaged couple preparing for marriage. My fiancé and I are Catholic and talked a lot about our beliefs when we were first dating. One of those was Natural Family Planning (NFP). When we first got engaged, I made an appointment with a doctor who upheld Catholic teachings in her practice — including reproductive matters. We love our faith, and truly believe all life is a gift. We love that the Church teaches this — even if it’s hard at times — but I’ll save those specifics for other bloggers more well versed in theology. But yes, NFP rocks.
So why is NFP important to us now? We aren’t married yet, and yes, knowing my infertile window makes it a little more difficult to wait. But getting started with NFP during our engagement was well worth it. Here are a few of our steamy (haha) reasons why NFP is awesome, even during preparation for marriage:
Many married couples say that NFP really increases communication. And although we can’t vouch for it as a married couple yet, I can tell you it has been a fantastic experience learning about each other during our engagement. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll freak out my fiancé with NFP (let’s be honest: for us non-medical folks, charting is kind of nasty), but he has embraced it more than I could imagine! (I always knew my fiancé was caring, but when he volunteered to read the entire book about NFP Methods with me, I was astounded!) That was just a little example, but there have been so many others.
One section in our NFP class was about how to have intimacy in other ways than just physical intimacy. This was great to talk through as an engaged couple since that’s exactly what we need as we grow together in our relationship and journey toward marriage. On those nights when it is really hard not to think about making love, we talk through the list of things that make us feel appreciated and loved outside of physical intimacy. How romantic is that? And for my fiancé, one on his list was my genuine interest in his passions. Let’s just say I am now the Zelda master!! (Well, not quite, but I’m getting there.)
Addressing potential health issues
When I went to the doctor to start learning about NFP, she did a panel of tests to just make sure I was healthy before we started charting. Sure enough, through multiple diagnostic tools, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS has a whole host of symptoms, but one of the main concerns is infertility. When women are diagnosed with PCOS, most doctors just pop them on the pill to reduce a few of the symptoms. Instead, my wonderful doctor has helped me get treatment that actually targets the root of the problem to reduce the size of the cysts — and therefore the symptoms — without compromising my beliefs.
How wonderful that we found out about all of this before we were married. What if I wasn’t diagnosed until five years down the road and we had multiple miscarriages? Instead, we have been able to not only get treatment, but also have a bit more knowledge about our fertility going into our married life.
Our relationship has been defined by this word. We’ve been in a long-distance relationship from day one. Waiting to see each other, waiting to finally be in the same city, waiting to get engaged, waiting to get married, waiting to express our love in the way reserved for married couples — it’s difficult! But the good part is that practicing patience and self-control will not only help us now, but will help us in our marriage.
Although we are not there yet, I have been concerned about the patience and self-control that will be required to plan a family using NFP. If we bring this to prayer each month and we discern that God is telling us to wait to have children for an important reason, will waiting be hard? YES. Has the waiting been hard so far? Oh, most definitely. But, as my wonderful fiancé says, this is “training mode.” And what a better way to train together?
The virtue of temperance is something hard to come by in today’s world of instant gratification (as evidenced by the number of breakfast cookies I’ve eaten while writing this!). Practicing NFP while we’re engaged is training for us as we wait to make love until marriage; as we will wait to make love when we are using NFP to space out births according to God’s call for us; and all other times where we wait during this life remind us of what we are really waiting for: eternity together with God. Isn’t that worth waiting for?
— Originally posted in the NFP Uncensored series, by Kristen Kennedy