Navigating NFP Together

Conner and Amber

Céline Gaeta interviews Amber and Conner DeHart. As newlyweds, they believe having conversations about family planning and navigating it together is a solid place to start.

Céline: Connor and Amber, tell me a little about your family and how you met!

Amber: Connor and I met at work, and we were friends long before we started dating. Since we worked in property management, we had to work weekends, which was hard for me because I really didn’t like giving up my Sundays. It was also during COVID when we weren’t able to go to Mass, so I would often listen to worship music or watch Mass before we opened. Connor was curious and he would ask me questions about the Mass and my Catholic faith. When we were able to start going back to Mass in person, Connor asked to go to church with me. You can imagine my delight! One Sunday turned into every Sunday, and we started dating soon after.

Connor was raised Protestant, or so he thought. Months later, when he began attending RCIA, we discovered that Connor had been baptized Catholic as a child! He truly felt that through our friendship and attending Mass, God had been inviting him home. Soon after receiving all his sacraments and coming fully into the church, Connor asked me to marry him. Confident that God was calling us to help each other get to Heaven, we were married later that year. We were blessed with our first child early in our marriage. Our daughter, Hannah, will be two this year, and we hope to continue growing our family if it is God’s will. God has been at the center of our relationship since we met. We owe Him praise and glory for the joy we have in our marriage and the blessing of our sweet baby girl.

Céline: Did you both know that NFP is an option for marriage before you dated? Was NFP something you discovered and decided to use together when you got married?

Connor: We always knew that we weren’t going to use artificial birth control. Before we got married, though, we had never heard of NFP and had no idea that it was an option. Our first introduction to NFP was through marriage preparation at our parish. When we got engaged, we were told that learning NFP was a requirement for getting married in the Church. That’s when we found out what NFP entails and what it could mean for our marriage. The Church led us to NFP, but learning the method opened the door. We had a new, deeper level of understanding about how our fertility works. We could follow God’s plan for our marriage while using NFP.

Céline: As newlyweds, what was your initial experience using NFP. How does it compare to your experience using it in your marriage now?

Amber: Taking my temperature every day and tracking my fertility signs was a habit I had to build. I think getting into the rhythm of using NFP and learning how to communicate and discern together took some practice for us.

Connor:  I know using NFP has increased our intimacy and communication. It’s great to check in with each other every day. We share the dialogue of reading and interpreting Amber’s fertility signs as a team. Sex is often a taboo topic of conversation. It’s something that I didn’t talk a lot about before we got into NFP. If we are comfortable communicating the intricacies of our fertility, we can discuss just about anything in our marriage.

Céline: How has using NFP together strengthened your relationship and helped you build a strong foundation for your marriage?

Connor: NFP is really rewarding because it has improved our communication as a couple. NFP has helped me get in touch with Amber on a deeper level beyond physical intimacy. It helps me understand where she is coming from when I know how her hormones affect her body based on where she is in her cycle. She tells me the signs she is noticing about her body and I can participate in recording them. It allows us to work as a team and take equal responsibility in practicing NFP.

Amber: We went into marriage wanting to conceive and were blessed with a baby early on. We are looking to put some space between our kids. Now comes the difficult part because abstinence can be one of the hardest things about using NFP. 

Our culture often puts sex at the heart of romantic relationships. Knowing God is at the heart of our relationship rather than sex has helped us build a relationship that we’re confident is going to last forever. That’s not to say that we don’t have our struggles and challenges. The communication and prudence that Natural Family Planning helps us engage in aligns with putting God and each other first.

I have seen NFP bring many couples closer together, just as it did with me and Connor. There is peace that comes from understanding your body and realizing that there is an easy and effective way to plan your family that does not involve artificial hormones. It can feel like the responsibility of communicating one’s fertility falls to the woman. With NFP, I have seen it take pressure off one person because NFP is truly a two-person job. Having conversations about family planning and navigating it as a couple is a solid place to start.

Celine: What is your advice to engaged couples and newlyweds about the process of learning NFP and using it at the beginning of their marriages?

Connor: Like anything that is not part of your normal, daily routine, you have to create the habit of using NFP. Be patient with yourselves as you get in the rhythm of practicing the method until you create that habit. It can be easy to feel like you may be missing something when you first start using it. We found that we were blessed with a deep bench of people who also practice NFP. They supported us as we moved through this new season. Getting into the practice of tracking fertility as a couple and leaning on the support of others who have done it before helped us with the learning curve.

Céline Gaeta is a graduate of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts with a passion for writing and teaching. She is currently earning her MA in Elementary Education. She lives in New Hampshire, where you can find her cooking, hiking, reading, and playing the violin.