Abandoning NFP - damaging the Marriage?

In another thread, a poster remarked that he and his wife found NFP damaged their marriage. That OP also remarked that ABC (artificial birth control) was a matter on which he and his wife disagreed with Church teaching.

I would be interested to understand, particularly from those who have abandoned NFP, whether they felt similarly to that poster, that is, that using NFP:

  • felt a bit like being celibate despite being married?
  • caused and damage to their marriage?

Some will have abandoned NFP and replaced it with artificial birth control. **If **that’s your case (and assuming you’re Catholic), then do you believe the Church has got the teaching wrong, or is it simply not a teaching you can adopt?

See herefor the first response to this question.

There are many people only this forum that have stated that practicing NFP damages their marriages. Of course, others says that it does not.

Some will have abandoned NFP and replaced it with artificial birth control. **If **that’s your case (and assuming you’re Catholic), then do you believe the Church has got the teaching wrong, or is it simply not a teaching you can adopt?

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if anyone thinks the Church is wrong or not, because the Church has authority on matters on morals or faith. That said, there are those of us that struggle with issues that are stated to be infallible where the source is solely in Tradition.

I hope you don’t mind me chiming in again, especially since you referenced my response earlier.

I want to be clear that I fully and completely embrace the Church’s teachings on marriage and family and married love. I think that NFP is a valuable tool, when it is deemed necessary. However, it is hard for a reason. It is a method that requires saying “no” to sexual relations with the spouse whom you adore at precisely the time when sexual relations seems the most appealing. God gave us the sex drive for a reason, and the love between spouses is a strong motivator for engaging in sexual relations, on top of the drive itself. So, I think Catholic should always be honest about the fact that NFP is hard, but that it is a moral way to space pregnancies, or prevent them altogether in some situations. Virtue is hard in general, though. We are not called to live a comfortable, carefree life as Christians. Some Christian couples will find the burden of NFP to be easier to bear than another pregnancy or another baby. Others, like myself, might find another pregnancy easier than NFP. We are all wired differently, physically and psychologically. As long as we stay within the framework of holy marital relations, as taught by the Church, we have the freedom to plan our families according to our own prudence. And each of us will have our own emotional impressions and our own ways to psychologically confront and endure our challenges.

But most of all, I really strongly believe that one thing that gets lost in the shuffle is the fact that a married couple may choose to use absolutely nothing at all to plan pregnancies, and fully rely on God’s providence and will for their family. A married couple just choosing to live as man and wife, enjoying marital relations whenever they have an opportunity, with no thought of pursuing any particular outcome of pregnancy or no-pregnancy, is seen as an oddity in the world today. I am constantly getting questioned about family planning and people just don’t get it. They do not comprehend what I am saying when I say it is in God’s hands whether or not we have more. The idea of not being in control, or of not manipulating, one’s fertility is incomprehensible to people today, even most other Catholics. That is why I love coming to CAF, because there are many like-minded people here, who decide to let go of that control, because they have discerned that they have no serious reason to actively decide such things.

I agree with mommamaree above. Now, I am fortunate that I have long stints cycle-free after childbirth, and I do know how to chart, but we’ve never paid much attention to the charts. We may have to delay a third pregnancy, but really, I don’t want to have to. I’d be fine with just accepting children as they come. For me, the burden of the charting is more annoying than having another baby. :stuck_out_tongue:

The choice is not “NFP or birth control.” You don’t have to space your kids if you don’t want to. For many (I’m saying many, not all, or even most! I know there are exceptions!) women, if they exclusively breastfeed, their kids are going to end up spaced 18 months-3 years apart, which is very, very doable if a woman is in good health.

The choice is also not “NFP forever or nothing forever.” A couple can switch depending on the needs of their family at the present. So I’m glad that I know how to use NFP if I need to employ it at some point (and hey, I may choose to employ it if I find it’s hard to get pregnant and my husband and I want to try for another child.) But maybe I won’t ever use it again. :shrug: But it’s not set in stone once a couple decides to employ it or not.

I have personally seen a marriage ended over the inability to use ABC and relying exclusively on NFP. Granted one person in said marriage was not open to having any more children than they already had. So they ended up a completely abstinent couple which eventually resulted in their divorce and an annulment.

Seeing this happen to two people who are so close to me personally really made me question what was more important, their marriage or the immorality of ABC. After all that transpired the topic of ABC came up with other Catholic friends and family members. I was actually quite shocked to learn how many Catholic friends and family members used ABC when the subject came up.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how ABC is considered immoral because it prevents the possibility of conception. However, to play the devil’s advocate, we all know the only 100% effective way of preventing new life is abstinence. So with any form of ABC it is still possible to conceive, albeit much harder. So if God really wanted to bless a couple with a child, even if said couple was using ABC, He still could.

I do agree with the Churches teaching, but at the same time I still sort of question the whole ABC thing being completely immoral since plenty of people can and have had children even while using ABC. And when I say I question that, it is really as a result of seeing what happened with the couple whose marriage ended over being limited to NFP only. To this day, I still wonder if that couple would still be married if they had been allowed to use ABC.

We don’t use NFP, never have. We fully agree with the teachings of the church and don’t use birth control either. I breastfeed according to biological norms so there was natural child spacing. We’ve had 4 children, 1 died before birth so only 3 living children in 14 years of marriage. Hoping for more!

Mortal sin is never better than following God’s will. This makes it seem like we need to sin in order to prevent someone else’s sin from causing damage. That’s a false thought.

In all truth and honesty I wish I didn’t need to use NFP but that isn’t feasible for us. I’m just grateful I have the option to do so.

I wish I was one of those moms who could naturally space children through exclusive breastfeeding. While it may still be exceptionally difficult for me to get pregnant, my cycles are VERY weird these days, I’m clearly fertile and clearly ovulating so I’m not willing to take that chance.

NFP is not damaging our marriage but it’s certainly not a walk in the park either. I don’t like that NFP is advertised as this beautiful and magical thing that prevents divorce and makes couples love each other more. I also don’t like that breastfeeding is advertised as a natural way to be infertile for as long as you plan to nurse. It’s not true for us.

That being said I don’t need to feel like I’m doing something wrong for using NFP and not using ABC amongst my secular friends and using NFP and not “letting God space my children” amongst my Catholic friends.

My body needs a break after being pregnant twice in two years and hubby and I need jobs before we feel comfortable having a third baby. NFP is our only option to help us achieve this.

Just as another view point, it’s worth mentioning that even non catholics who ordinarily use ABC, also use NFP or a similar method to help them get pregnant as they struggle so much. With the possible exception of those who have married very young so are in their full swing of fertile years, you have to bear in mind, that women’s fertility are diminishing from conception never mind birth!! I think I read somewhere we lose about 7million eggs between conception and birth and as we age it gets a whole lot harder! :eek:

Our bodies are a natural birth control sometimes…then medical factors, age, weight, etc can also impact on fertility, even your teeth!! Personally I haven’t decided on the whole contraception thing…but I don’t think NFP or even nothing at all is that bad!

It’s hard for people who see Catholicism like a set of rules rather than an overall way of life. Being true to the Catholic moral standard makes much more sense when you conform all parts of you life to the Catholic way. Many Catholics now don’t incorporate abstinence or fasting of any sort into their faith. I mean as in putting emphasis on the hour fast before Communion or serious fasting in Lent other than Ash Wed. and Good Fri. Abstinence is not appreciated for its spiritual value in any part of their lives and consequently in marital relations, its seen fully as a burden with no higher purpose of effect. If we can incorporate sexual abstinence into our life of penance and purifying, it can be seriously edifying!

It would be incredibly difficult if both or one of the partners went into marriage without fully embracing th overall meaning of natural family planning.

This is just a side comment, but people using the most common ABC, the pill, don’t have a fertile period at all which is wonderful experience in itself even if you are abstinent. It is the time of month the body experiences a strong sense of well being and the joy of being a woman in the grand plan. I will miss that bit after menopause.

“Some will have abandoned NFP and replaced it with artificial birth control. If that’s your case (and assuming you’re Catholic), then do you believe the Church has got the teaching wrong, or is it simply not a teaching you can adopt?”

Yes, my husband and I believe the church is not correct in this teaching and that it is legalistic and full of theological inconsistencies. It is also not a teaching we can adopt. It also creates elitism and polarization in the church. I don’t even see those who agree with the teaching treating each other kindly. The 5-10% max that agree with teaching spend a great deal of time tearing each other down. The movement definitely needs to rethink its evangelization strategy and learn how to really listen and engage people without the arrogance and assumptions about people’s character.

We have done more than enough studying and praying on the topic. That is why I don’t need further discussion on it. I have quite literally heard it all.

We did start out accepting the teaching because we falsely assumed NFP would be a way we could space our children and still have sex, even if it was not very often. We had not questioned it in depth. When we realized NFP was destructive to our marriage, we did further study and research. No matter how much we read from Scott Hahn, Christopher West etc we could not agree with teaching. It is one thing to take on a crushing burden but wholeheartedly believe God is asking you to do it. It is an entirely different story to do it when you don’t believe God is asking you to do it.

I hope that answers your question. I see that you are not getting many responses from people who think the church is wrong. That does not surprise me given the environment of this site. I don’t mean that in a negative light. The site is clear where it stands so there is not room for disagreement. People who dissent are labeled selfish and all kinds of others things. Out of curiosity I come here and read the questions and responses but don’t post much. Most people would rather throw themselves in a lion’s den than come to a site like this and admit they do not agree with the church and that the teaching is harmful to their marriage.

Since I am not up for a discussion on it and you are interested in hearing from others who found the teaching destructive I wanted to share a couple links:



By the way, I wanted to clarify: this sailor is a woman…

You are somewhat brave to meet the challenge. Some people can be snarky and elitist and see their nfp as a badge of some sort, but you have to expect replies. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Church’s uncompromising position on contraception is founded on the very sacredness of human life and as Pope John Paul said, on spouses as “co-creators” with God. The Church knows that to faithfully respect the body’s gift of creativity without interfering with fertility for the purpose pursuing pleasure alone, is good and godly. Marriage can only be harmed by ignorance or mistaken beliefs about that.

The ease of contraception now and the highly sexualised standard of relationships, makes it much harder than ever before to be temperate and appreciative of the beneficial limitations on conjugal activity that used to be accepted prior to the 1960’s. Just like the over abundance of fancy and fast foods now makes a simple diet of basics harder to appreciate and accept. To be able to value the temperate life, one has to embrace a whole lifestyle that is basically counter-cultural. But that is the ideal that the Church puts before us with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the promise of Gods grace and mercy.

None of us that conform to natural fertility in the conjugal life, believe that it is easy. It’s so much easier to have control of the fertility and not limit sexual freedom. It would be wonderful not to have to ‘burden’ our children with this standard that is so much harder again for them in this culture. We conform because we trust that the Magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit has our eternal happiness and inner freedom firmly in its sight. That’s what we want most of all for our children as well. Suffering and sacrifice as joined to Christ, form the very heart of our triumph over original sin that separated us from God in the first place and we try to embrace it willingly and uncompromisingly in conjugal communion as well as in every aspect of our lives.

The only time my wife and I used NFP was when we were trying to have our first child, because we wanted to be sure to have intercourse during my wife’s fertile periods. When she got pregnant it was quite unexpected, nonetheless.

My wife’s cycles were ambiguous enough that NFP wouldn’t have been a useful means of ‘spacing’ our children.

We spaced our children by using ABC in the form of condoms.

Since the birth of our third and final child we have used condoms. My wife’s body can’t handle any more pregnancies. As a matter of fact, consequences of her c-sections make intercourse extremely painful for her, so we only have intercourse a few times per year. We engage in nonprocreative sexual activity.

This is the way it’s been for years. Despite the statistics people cite, the condoms have been 100% effective since 2005. Before we decided to start a family, my wife took birth control pills. She stopped taking them in 1997 and has not suffered any ill health affects.

Neither my wife nor I are willing to risk her health, possibly her life, by trusting NFP to prevent pregnancy.

We disagree with the teachings on ABC. It is what it is.

Oh, to answer the question: Yes, we believe the Vatican has got it wrong. Or perhaps a more nuanced answer is: the Vatican has to be willing to compromise on some things. This is one of them.


I am not sure what the intention of your post is…?

The intention of my post was to answer the question the poster asked and I answered it honestly.

Your reply tells me you did not hear a thing I said but came in with your own agenda and implied through what you wrote that I was ignorant, had mistaken beliefs, was not temperate, had an overabundance of sex, do not have enough suffering or sacrifice in my life…it really came across to me as some serious pious pontificating. Since honesty is the theme I just wanted to let you know what I heard. Now if you had completely different intentions then I can just chalk it up to internet miscommunication.:stuck_out_tongue:

Think and pray about what I said: “This movement definitely needs to rethink its evangelization strategy and learn how to really listen and engage people without the arrogance and assumptions about people’s character.” I mean that sincerely. If you want to engage people on this topic really try to understand them in real life. My intention is not to enter a big long discussion about this. That is not appropriate for me. I just wanted to check in with you and let you know how you are coming across.

As an instructor of NFP for 10 years I have ssen couples abandon because they are using NFP with a contraceptive mentality. When using ABC you really do not prioritize time together. When using NFP to prayfully space pregnancies,couples should clear out the calendar to use available days. If I do a follow up for a couple and I see no use of the available days I try to provide gentle counsel for the couple to begin to do so. Perhaps they do not trust the method, in which case more instruction is necessary; or, maybe they have been too busy with other things and not working together to find time for each other. It is not the NFP which damages the marriage, it is the teamwork invoved in its usage.

As a couple who has used NFP for our entire marriage of 6.5 years so far I can say that it can be a bit more complicated for some people. With two young children, an irregular cycle, a husband with a rigid work schedule who travels for work for weeks at a time, it is REALLY hard for us to find an opportunity that perfectly coincides with the few absolutely certain safe days. Both of our children are NFP failures because it just doesn’t work in our particular situation. Not that NFP doesn’t work, but rather we can rarely take advantage of the few safe days.

And I’ll admit we have talked about ABC quite a bit. As it is right now, financially we absolutely cannot afford another child. Sure, in a few years it may become a financial possibility, but we definitely cannot afford for our family to grow anymore right now. I can definitely see where people are coming from who do feel the need to turn to ABC.

With all due respect, the reason we’re not using it is not because of the teamwork involved.

There probably isn’t going to be a way of getting to a ‘live and let live’ position on this question as there would be with regards to those who believe in the traditional Latin Mass verses the Novus Ordo. Or home schooling verses Catholic schooling. The Church is so clear with regards to artificial birth control…

Catechism** 2370 **"Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil:

Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality*."

These acts are intrinsically evil if done for the purpose of inhibiting fertility. (Of course a woman who takes the pill for genuine medical reason not related to family planning, is subject to the principle of double effect where the consequent infertility is the unintended consequence of her medical treatment. )

If a couple contracept believing it to be a Catholic choice, they are mistaken.

Imagine you went to a nutrition site and said something like “I choose to chew my food and spit it out because eating in the natural way makes me fat and that is harmful to me” You couldn’t expect that the faithful nutrition crowd would say, “that’s ok. It’s your choice and you should do what you think feels right to you”. Chewing food simply for the sensory pleasures of it but spitting it out before swallowing it, is in no scenario a good thing. We need food for for a greater purpose than the sensory pleasure. It sustains the body at a deeper level separate from that sensory pleasure and to disconnect the two perpetrates a dangerous lie.

It’s the same with contraception in the Catholic perspective. Fertility is so fundamental the our relationship with God as ‘co-creators’ that to reject it is to turn our backs on one of the Lords greatest gift to humanity. (Age or gene related infertility does not involve the contraceptive mentality and does not harm the relationship with God)

Evangelising ‘movements’ could never water down or tacitly legitimise the contraceptive mentality among people without selling out the very soul of Catholic teaching with it.

  1. For my generation, abortion and contraception has always been legal and available. That is just the culture we live in.

When you have priests and other Catholic leaders teaching that contraception is okay, it’s kind of hard not to think of it as a legitimate Catholic choice. That’s just the practical reality. If priests and prominent Catholic leaders ignore the teaching of the CCC, then it only stands to reason that lay people would as well.

  1. It’s false to say that married couples who use ABC don’t make time for each other. We do. We work on our marriages just as much as couples who use NFP.

  2. I tend to think of NFP as an ideal, but something that’s not practical for every couple.

I just wanted to point out that Rau, the OP, was asking questions in order to hear from and LISTEN TO those people who are trying to be faithful Catholics but who have abandoned NFP because it was hurting their marriage. He specifically wanted to hear from people who have chosen ABC over NFP, as well. But his questions had to do with LEARNING from people what damage NFP challenges caused to their marriage.

This is NOT an appropriate place to continue to try to correct or admonish these people. They KNOW the Church’s teachings on this. I, for one, would really like for his thread to not be derailed. I think the honest responses are worth listening to and trying to understand. Who knows what challenges we all might end up facing in our own marriages? Isn’t it good to listen with an open heart and open mind to understand people where they are right now instead of closing ourselves off and assuming unkind things about them and using talking points or catechism references? That would probably be better for another thread.

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