"After I started studying NFP I learned it allows people to experience free, total, faithful and fruitful love while also allowing the responsible spacing of children." -Pilar
Taking a stand early on
PILAR: A few years before I met Adam, I read the book Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West, which is based on St. John Paul II’s reflections on God’s plan for the human body and the marital embrace. I learned that God intended for sex to be a selfless act between spouses and that selfless sex allows us to experience the love we long for in the depths of our hearts. I was really inspired by this book. I knew I wanted to fully give myself to my future husband. That meant sex the way God intended it: free, total, faithful and fruitful sex. Only God has the power to create life as a result of the marital act, and this book taught me that contracepting is saying that God’s presence is not desired. I also knew I wanted to be responsible about the number of children I had. I didn’t want to have 17 kids! After I started studying NFP I learned it allows people to experience free, total, faithful and fruitful love while also allowing the responsible spacing of children.
ADAM: I had been raised Catholic but had not been taught anything about NFP. I was skeptical about NFP because the only people I knew who had practiced it were close friends of mine, and they had four kids and one on the way! Because of this, I associated NFP with having a lot of kids. I didn’t learn until later that their family size was planned and NFP helped shape their positive outlook on children.
PILAR: When we first started dating I told Adam about my decision to practice NFP and that I couldn’t be happily married while using contraception. I associated contracepting with using each other’s bodies for pleasure. I wanted sex within marriage to be so much more than that.
ADAM: This really caught me off guard. I knew about the periods of abstinence required for NFP and was worried sex would be infrequent. Sex was an important part of marriage to me and I wanted to be in a marriage where physical love was a priority. I was worried the periods of abstinence would decrease the frequency of sex. I also didn’t have much confidence in NFP because I kept thinking back to my friends who had five kids. But, I was falling in love with Pilar and figured it was worth looking into.
I took it one day at a time. We talked about it honestly and listened to each other’s point of view. After reading more about it and hearing from couples who used NFP, I slowly started to have a shift in my way of thinking. I started to understand sex as a selfless act of love that creates a human life rather than just something that would keep our marriage healthy (even though that’s also important). We eventually went to a talk about chastity given by Jason Evert and by the end of the talk I was convinced NFP was for us.
PILAR: I had already been charting my cycle for over a year before I met Adam. I had come to know that NFP was going to be part of my life and I was eager to learn how to do it. I was also glad to gain the insight it gave me about my own health. I had heard stories of women finding out about cysts and hormonal deficiencies from charting their cycles. I had a natural eagerness to start charting. It gave me a sense of empowerment and pride in my femininity.
ADAM: Since Pilar had been charting for over a year before she met me, I felt like I was lagging behind. Pilar had this body of knowledge and I wanted to learn more about it. So, I began keeping a chart of Pilar’s cycle. This involvement really helped me to fully understand NFP. It also allowed me to participate in all of this rather just than be a passive observer.
Since charting is a team effort, it helped us to be more comfortable talking about our sexual intimacy. I knew exactly when she was going through certain changes in her body, and she was able to talk to me about how she felt during those times. The lines of communication had broadened and it allowed us to be even more comfortable talking about physical intimacy.
PILAR: That’s one of the many benefits of NFP. Unlike birth control, the responsibility does not rest on one partner; it can be shared equally between spouses. So, yes, Adam did begin to chart my fertility signs during our engagement. At the end of every day he would ask me about my observations and record them in my chart.
Now that we’re married, Adam still records my fertility signs at the end of each day. He also sticks the thermometer in my mouth every morning when our alarm goes off. I look on his efforts to help me chart as a daily reminder of his love for me.
ADAM: What I’ve found is that the periods of abstinence aren’t as much of a burden as I feared, and they do help us to focus more on emotional intimacy within our marriage. For example, when we have decided to abstain we spend more time sitting and talking to each other after dinner is over. We drink wine and play something on the Wii. We take our dog on extra long walks. One time we even had a date where we made a pizza from scratch. We are able to get more value out of the time we spend with each other.
Another benefit is that we look forward to our physical intimacy with the same eagerness we looked forward to our honeymoon. We don’t believe we have less sex than couples who contracept; we simply time it differently. This is a small sacrifice in comparison to the many other benefits of NFP.