“Something I really love about it is that it provides the freedom for Jessica to not have to ingest, inject or implant potentially harmful hormones into her body. As a husband, I don’t ever want to put Jessica’s health at risk for the sake of convenience.” —Ryan
NFP helps us to ‘love in a deeper way’
Ryan: Jessica and I dated for a year, got engaged, and then married seven months later, in October of 1999. At the time, I was in my last year of graduate school working on my dissertation and Jessica was working as a nurse. We were hoping to delay pregnancy until I graduated the following summer and was able to provide Jessica the option to cut back her work hours. During our engagement we found it important to discuss family planning options in order to be prepared. We are both Catholic and knew we wanted a marriage rooted in our faith. We agreed that we needed to work within God’s plan in all aspects of our life, including family planning.
Jessica: As a nurse I had to learn about all of the health risks to women that come with the use of hormonal birth control. Through more investigation I realized that some even caused early abortions. After learning about the option of NFP, it was liberating to know that we could space births naturally simply by studying and becoming familiar with my body. So about six months before our wedding, I learned the Sympto-Thermal Method and started tracking my fertility.
Ryan: As I mentioned earlier, we were hoping to delay pregnancy for a short time after getting married. So for the first nine months of our marriage we used NFP to delay pregnancy. Of course sometimes the periods of abstinence were a sacrifice, but that sacrifice really helped us grow stronger during that first year of marriage. We found that we became less selfish and more caring towards each other. We also found ourselves spending more quality time together.
After graduation, I started my job as a statistics professorand we used the principles of NFP to achieve pregnancy. We were so happy and told everyone the news that we had a baby on the way.
Jessica: At eight weeks we went through the difficult experience of having a miscarriage. This was an emotional time for us and brought about a new realization that, though we can work within God’s plan and help plan pregnancies, we still have to be open to things not going according to “our” plan. Life is fragile and we are co-creators with God, and we learned that we should not forget that.
Three months after the miscarriage, and with renewed appreciation for the gift of life, our daughter Grace was conceived. After Grace was born, I breastfed her and we used NFP to delay pregnancy while my body healed. When Grace was one year old, we happily prepared for another baby. Nine months later, our little Maria was born in April 2013.
Ryan: Our experience of NFP is that it works. We’re friends with about a dozen other couples who have been married in recent years who are all practicing one of the methods of NFP. All of them are also very happy with their decision to practice NFP. For us, we find comfort in knowing that it is safe, effective, and natural. By knowing and understanding the body we can detect problems early, identify ovulation, have the first notice of being pregnant, and even are able to calculate a more accurate due date based on ovulation. We have learned to communicate each month about our readiness for more children, too. NFP has helped us to practice self-control, grow in generosity, and to love in a deeper way. And I really love that it provides the freedom for Jessica to not have to ingest, inject, or implant potentially harmful hormones into her body. As a husband, I don’t ever want to put her health at risk for the sake of convenience.
Jessica: As a woman, I’ve found great comfort in having a husband who not only supports but takes an active role in our family planning practices. While Ryan has always said that he loves me so much that he doesn’t want to ever hurt me or put my health or soul at risk, he puts those words into action through the practice of NFP. This has led to an even greater respect and appreciation for him as my husband. With Ryan playing an active role, there is also freedom from pressure, guilt, or fear of messing up as a woman. The periods of abstinence provide reassurance of his love because he finds non-sexual ways to communicate that love for me. When it comes to the actual practice of the method, he helps check and read the charts and even reminds me to take my temperature. Practicing NFP has helped us develop an attitude of trust and openness to each other and to the will of God, which not only brings us closer to each other but also strengthens our relationship with God.
Ryan: We recently became NFP teachers because we are well aware that NFPt is not well known and many times it is discredited due to a lack of education and misinformation. To help overcome this and to counter the voices in our culture that can lead couples down a path of marriage destruction, we want to share the message of NFP which can help make more marriages last. NFP has contributed to us being happy, loving, and close in our marriage and we simply want to share this with others so they can have the same experience.