Opening the Door to God’s Plan

Briana and Andy, both active duty military at the time, were selected by their parish priest to be part of the planning committee for World Marriage Day. It was then they were introduced to Saint Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and natural family planning. Briana’s ears perked up when she heard what God had planned for marriage and the gift of NFP. Not having had much marriage prep and little education in NFP, their only example of a couple practicing it was one that was open to life and having a large family. They did not yet understand what benefits it could possibly have for them.

No Longer OK With It

At that point in their marriage, and still in their early 20’s, Briana felt that they had exhausted all options with contraception. She had also recently learned of hormonal birth control’s abortifacient properties. She explained she was “no longer OK with it. It was affecting our intimacy. Learning that we give ourselves fully to our spouse was the draw of building a proper intimacy. We came to understand that we had really missed the mark. We were so far away from the joy and the beauty that God had intended.”

Andy says that practicing NFP began to compliment how they lived as a military couple. “It made it easier for us to communicate. We were both very busy in the military with young children. Learning the skills to discuss our fertility spilled over into other areas where we needed effective communication.” Briana and Andy both noticed the positive shift right away in how they were able to talk to each other.

Modeling and Sharing

Briana explained that the military lifestyle is very different from the civilian. There is a constant need for control and setting goals that are to be met within a short period of time. When it came to having children, there was never a “good time” to fit in another pregnancy. After learning about NFP, they became more open to the blessing of children. Andy and Briana were determined to model to other military couples how building a family and being open to life is possible.

Andy says, “We decided to become promoters of NFP when we realized how great it was for us in our marriage and our faith journey. We wanted to pass it along to others who could benefit from it like we do.” Briana and Andy now attend marriage prep classes to promote NFP’s benefits. They share their journey, having been on both sides. “We talk about how it has transformed our marriage. How difficult our relationship was before we switched from contracepting and barrier methods. We can ask them questions and can relate to where they are.”

For Briana, she feels that had they learned about NFP before they were married and being more open to God’s intended plan for marriage, they could have avoided several years of difficulties and struggle. “Now, when we meet a struggling couple, we can share how foundational NFP is for their marriage. We share this message any chance we get.”

Open the Door

Opening that door to God’s plan, Briana became more intentional in raising their children, now totaling 6, with 2 in heaven. “Knowing God has a plan for their bodies, sharing that with them, and walking with them as their bodies changed, became a delight. Also, living a good marriage models what is down the road for them.”

Andy encourages couples to have patience when learning NFP, saying, “It’s not always going to be textbook perfect. Your charts may not always look like those in the examples. That’s when you reach out to your teaching couple for support and advice.” Even after 19 years of practicing NFP, Andy and Briana occasionally break out their old student guide for help interpreting a chart. “Be involved as a guy. It helped Briana when I started recording the symptoms. I was able to take a burden off of her.”

Originally published in Family Foundations magazine, a publication sent to patrons of Couple to Couple League.