Abstinence in marraige


#1

I have been married for nearly three years to my wonderful husband. I used to use the contraceptive pill, but stopped after a year as I just didn't feel comfortable that it was the right thing to do. So, we started using condoms, thinking that because conception is not actually taking place, it would be okay. But my husband said to me recently that even this is not right and we should not be using any method of contraception. The thing is, he does not want children at all (and neither did I when we married), and I would love a child in a few years now. He said he will consider having a child over the next few years, but he is not promising, which is fair enough. Our situation at the moment is not right to bring a child into, we would not be able to afford it. He is now saying that he will not have sex with me at all in becasue the risk of pregancy is simply too great. I've looked into natural family planning, but it is not effective enough for him. Up until now we have a had a happy sex life and I don't know how this abstinence is going to affect our marriage. I'm very worried about the future.


#2

I'm very sorry that you're in this situation.

The Catholic Church only approves of NFP.

Would your husband feel more comfortable if you two were to learn how to use a fertility monitor? There are machines that take away much of the human error, by measuring various things (mucus and temperature) and calculating the risk for you. They can get pricey but can be even more effective than condoms, which have a startling high rate of failure.


#3

[quote="lady007, post:1, topic:250641"]
I have been married for nearly three years to my wonderful husband. I used to use the contraceptive pill, but stopped after a year as I just didn't feel comfortable that it was the right thing to do. So, we started using condoms, thinking that because conception is not actually taking place, it would be okay. But my husband said to me recently that even this is not right and we should not be using any method of contraception. The thing is, he does not want children at all (and neither did I when we married), and I would love a child in a few years now. He said he will consider having a child over the next few years, but he is not promising, which is fair enough. Our situation at the moment is not right to bring a child into, we would not be able to afford it. He is now saying that he will not have sex with me at all in becasue the risk of pregancy is simply too great. I've looked into natural family planning, but it is not effective enough for him. Up until now we have a had a happy sex life and I don't know how this abstinence is going to affect our marriage. I'm very worried about the future.

[/quote]

I don't know enough about NFP to discuss it, but from what I have heard it is pretty effective. Perhaps you should both read a book about it or go to a place where they will discuss it with you. Other than that, your only other morally acceptable option, at least in the Catholic Church, is abstinence, which is most certainly not ideal. I highly recommend that you both look into NFP further.


#4

[quote="lady007, post:1, topic:250641"]
I have been married for nearly three years to my wonderful husband. I used to use the contraceptive pill, but stopped after a year as I just didn't feel comfortable that it was the right thing to do. So, we started using condoms, thinking that because conception is not actually taking place, it would be okay. But my husband said to me recently that even this is not right and we should not be using any method of contraception. The thing is, he does not want children at all (and neither did I when we married), and I would love a child in a few years now. He said he will consider having a child over the next few years, but he is not promising, which is fair enough. Our situation at the moment is not right to bring a child into, we would not be able to afford it. He is now saying that he will not have sex with me at all in becasue the risk of pregancy is simply too great. I've looked into natural family planning, but it is not effective enough for him. Up until now we have a had a happy sex life and I don't know how this abstinence is going to affect our marriage. I'm very worried about the future.

[/quote]

That is what people say. But the NFP has got high rates of success when the methods are used together: calendar, temperature and cervical mucus and side-symtpoms (little pain in the ovary when it ovultes, sense of libido going up in hte woman and swelling of breasts. I do not know what machines htey invented up to now, Maybe nowadays there are other material.


#5

Thank you so much for the quick replies.

I really think that NFP is the only way forward for us, but my husband is scared of it failing, and so am I to be honest. Could you suggest a good book that would give us both a good understanding of what is involved? I have tried doing a few internet searches, but have only found one article explaining how good and effective it is and then I find another saying that it has a 24% failure rate.
Any help or advice would be appreciated greatly


#6

You should read and listen to Scott and Kimberly Hahn's conversion story. Kimberly went out on a limb to investigate this issue when they were in school together. It changed their lives forever.

Tracing back religious heritage, Orthodox Jews do not allow physical contraception. There are also many rules of when a couple can and can not engage in the marital act.


#7

[quote="lady007, post:5, topic:250641"]
Thank you so much for the quick replies.

I really think that NFP is the only way forward for us, but my husband is scared of it failing, and so am I to be honest. Could you suggest a good book that would give us both a good understanding of what is involved? I have tried doing a few internet searches, but have only found one article explaining how good and effective it is and then I find another saying that it has a 24% failure rate.
Any help or advice would be appreciated greatly

[/quote]

I know there are NFP retreats put on by experts in some cities. You may want to try googling it to see if there is one in your area. Some churches will also post information on retreats on their bulletin board. You should also try contacting your obgyn and see if she knows of any events or could recommend a book (or machine if you decide to go that route instead.)


#8

[quote="lady007, post:1, topic:250641"]
**

You might want to look into the Creighton University NFP system . Creighton is a Jesuit University in Omaha , Nebraska . Creighton has a Medical School , Nursing School ( with both B.S.N. and M. S. N. programs ), a School of Pharmacy and a Dental School ( what I'm trying to say is that they take the medical sciences / healing arts seriously ) . Creighton's NFP system has been praised and written about fairly extensively . You might want to look into their program . Good luck !

[/quote]


#9

[quote="chuckfrmvalyfrg, post:8, topic:250641"]
You might want to look into the Creighton University NFP system . Creighton is a Jesuit University in Omaha , Nebraska . Creighton has a Medical School , Nursing School ( with both B.S.N. and M. S. N. programs ), a School of Pharmacy and a Dental School ( what I'm trying to say is that they take the medical sciences / healing arts seriously ) . Creighton's NFP system has been praised and written about fairly extensively . You might want to look into their program . Good luck !

[/quote]

Thank you for praising my college. :)

I can't attest to the method because I am not married, but I can attest to Creighton's medical reputation.


#10

ccli.org/ You can search for classes near you. They also have a book, the Art of NFP, which I found incredibly helpful, but it is a huge book and kind of text-bookish so it may be cumbersome for you if you don't have the time/energy for it. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know though.

Used correctly, NFP has a 99% effectiveness. Of course, not everyone uses it correctly, that's why you will often see some much lower effectiveness ratings. There are various rules & methods and some are more conservative than others; you would want to use the most conservative rules if you are very serious about avoiding pregnancy.

Prolonged abstinence may be morally acceptable but probably won't be very good for your marriage, especially if it's not a mutually-agreed-upon path.

Why is he adamantly against having kids?? What kind of financial issues are you facing? Obviously you don't need to answer here to us, it's just something for you guys to discuss more in-depth. Finances can be a struggle but it doesn't necessarily need to be a hindrance, most of us with children are far from rich (financially)... If you were married in the Catholic church, your marriage vows included something about accepting kids willingly. I'm not telling you that you need to have kids, I just would consider exploring more what your individual & collective feelings are on this matter and perhaps discussing with a priest or counselor or something.


#11

[quote="lady007, post:1, topic:250641"]
I have been married for nearly three years to my wonderful husband. I used to use the contraceptive pill, but stopped after a year as I just didn't feel comfortable that it was the right thing to do. So, we started using condoms, thinking that because conception is not actually taking place, it would be okay. But my husband said to me recently that even this is not right and we should not be using any method of contraception. The thing is, he does not want children at all (and neither did I when we married), and I would love a child in a few years now. He said he will consider having a child over the next few years, but he is not promising, which is fair enough. Our situation at the moment is not right to bring a child into, we would not be able to afford it. He is now saying that he will not have sex with me at all in becasue the risk of pregancy is simply too great. I've looked into natural family planning, but it is not effective enough for him. Up until now we have a had a happy sex life and I don't know how this abstinence is going to affect our marriage. I'm very worried about the future.

[/quote]

If you both were willing to risk condoms, then you both should be comfortable with NFP. Condoms only have a 90% success rate, the modern NFP methods I will suggest all have success rates of 98 plus percent (comparable to the pill). This success rate refers to the success at determining when the woman is potentially fertile. It is still up to you, the user, to actually use this information correctly and abstain from intercourse during those days.

There are several modern methods:

1). Sympo-thermal- Relies especially on temperature and cervical fluid, looking for changes in the consistency of cervical fluid over the course of a woman's cycle and for a temperature shift to determine when a woman is potentially fertile. This is the one my wife and I use and we learned it from this book: amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Your-Fertility-Anniversary/dp/0060881909/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312302580&sr=1-1
We used the first edition, which is cheaper, but this is the second edition. The author is writing from a secular non-religious standpoint and recommends condom use during potentially fertile periods, so you will have to ignore that part, but the medical information is fine. Couple to Couple league and teaches this. Your local Catholic hospital may offer free classes.

2a. Marquette- fertility monitor: uses a fertility monitor and test stripes (urine test kit) to determine when a woman is potentially fertile.
2b. Marquette mucous only method- (I think this is identical to Creighton), relies exclusively on changes in a woman's cervical fluid over the course of her cycle.
nfp.marquette.edu/

  1. Creighton method- already mentioned, I think it is the same as the Marquette mucous only method.

  2. Billings method. Another mucous only method, a bit older than the marquette and creighton one, so I'd prefer them, but I know people do continue to use Billings successfully (97% success rate when used correctly).

I would guess your husband really doesn't have the justification to say that these methods are not effective enough for him, since he was willing to use condoms which have a far higher failure rate than any of these methods. For classes, you can contact your diocese, parish, or local catholic hospital. I think if you look up some more information from decent sources, you both should feel alot better about using NFP. It can come with its own challenges, some people find the required abstinence time uncomfortable (but its much better than total abstinence all the time).

I am going to be a little presumptuous though and make a couple other comments you can ignore if you wish. One spouse (in this case your husband) does not have the right to unilaterally and completely refuse marital relations with the other. St. Paul is very explicit that such abstinence must always be by mutual consent (and even then only for a limited period of time because of the challenges it presents).

Second, it seems strange that you both recognize the serious moral problems with contraception, but want to remain totally shut to children. Waiting a little while til you are more ready is fine (as long as this doesn't go too long), but children are a central part of marriage and one of the important ways in which the marriage of a husband and wife can rise above mere erotic love and imitate the self giving, sacrificing, and creative love of God.

best of luck.


#12

Do I understyou and correctly? Both you and your husband married with the intent to have no children? I think you really to start talking to a good priest about this entire situation. There are lots of potential (I don't want to judge) problemshere: refusal of marital debt, invalid intent at time of marriage, artificial birth control, lack of understanding of married vacation.


#13

[quote="tafan, post:12, topic:250641"]
Do I understyou and correctly? Both you and your husband married with the intent to have no children? I think you really to start talking to a good priest about this entire situation. There are lots of potential (I don't want to judge) problemshere: refusal of marital debt, invalid intent at time of marriage, artificial birth control, lack of understanding of married vacation.

[/quote]

I am asking for help; not judgement. Thank you for your concern and advice.


#14

[quote="danserr, post:11, topic:250641"]
I am going to be a little presumptuous though and make a couple other comments you can ignore if you wish. One spouse (in this case your husband) does not have the right to unilaterally and completely refuse marital relations with the other. St. Paul is very explicit that such abstinence must always be by mutual consent (and even then only for a limited period of time because of the challenges it presents).

Second, it seems strange that you both recognize the serious moral problems with contraception, but want to remain totally shut to children. Waiting a little while til you are more ready is fine (as long as this doesn't go too long), but children are a central part of marriage and one of the important ways in which the marriage of a husband and wife can rise above mere erotic love and imitate the self giving, sacrificing, and creative love of God.

best of luck.

[/quote]

Thank you so much for this information, I will be spending tonight looking at the methods you mentioned!

With regards to my husband, I understand his fears. Which is why I want to help him overcome them by researching properly NFP. And it is becoming apparent to me that the failure rate is much lower than we both thought. When he learns more about this, I am sure he will relax his attitude.

Our current situation is not one that we wish to bring a child into. Our living conditions and financial situation are not ideal, but we have a two year plan, so hopefully at the end of that we can have a good re-think.

I really appreciate your advice, thank you again.


#15

I am actually quite overwhelmed by the support from you guys. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You've all given me an excellent start to this new way of life for us. A true encouragement. :)


#16

I hate to be the "Debbie Downer" on NFP, but I want to offer a realistic picture to help the OP with her decision.

My husband and I have practiced NFP ever since we were married, four years ago. We now have two children. The first child was a result of NFP error...that was I misread my signs and got pregnant. It was only AFTER I conceived that we were able to look back at the chart and see that I ovulated "there" and not "here." Oops!

Now, having an unplanned pregnancy (unplanned by me, but not God), didn't wreck our marriage, but it really made things difficult...very difficult, and it did strain things somewhat.

After child #2, a result of using NFP with less caution, our family hit bad times financially, lost our home, had to move in with DH's parents, no finances...basically a bad situation. This would have happened with or without the children, but when you are in an unstable situation, it is even MORE stressful with children because you worry about them too, not just yourself and your husband. I still wouldn't trade my kids for the world,and I also wouldn't have them, if we had been doing something other than NFP.

We are now at a point in our marriage, where we are mutually committed to abstinence until we get back on our feet. This will take a few years, but it is an agreed arrangement. We simply cannot trust NFP to "work" at this point in our lives.

With that said, I think NFP can "work" for avoiding pregnancy, but the couple must have a lot of self control, REALLY UNDERSTAND and FEEL COMFORTABLE using it. :thumbsup:

My suggestion is a period of mutually agreed upon abstinence, six months, perhaps. Use this time to learn the method, chart, and really understand you're body and what you are seeing with NFP. Then use very conservative rules with NFP. Do not continue to have sexual relations while learning NFP, because in my experience, this is a sure-fire way to be that 24% statistic and have a chart-reading error. Now if having children, wouldn't be disastrous, then I say continue marital relations while learning NFP. ;) I'm just trying to give you something else to consider.


#17

I charted for one year before gettng married, and ended up pregnant first month; we were actively trying to avoid. Just realize if you do NFP, you MUST be prepared for a pregnancy.


#18

[quote="emmar, post:17, topic:250641"]
I charted for one year before gettng married, and ended up pregnant first month; we were actively trying to avoid. Just realize if you do NFP, you MUST be prepared for a pregnancy.

[/quote]

I would amend this to say: "realize if you have sex, you must be prepared for a pregnancy," which is certainly true.

Artificial forms of birth control all have failure rates, even the pill or a vasectomy. My wife's friend was on the pill for a couple years before finding herself 5 months pregnant. That being said, When used correctly Scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals have shown NFP to be remarkably effective, nearly as effective as the pill. That's pretty good. My wife and I are not in a financial position where we can have children at the moment (still a graduate student), but we've decided that NFP is sufficiently effective that we should be able to successfully postpone a pregnancy. If one is willing to accept the risk associated with artificial birth control to avoid pregnancy, then one should be willing to accept the risk associated with NFP.

NFP does have it;s challenges. Some people (errr... other people) don't enjoy the required period of abstinence; second, even if you accept intellectually that modern NFP methods are effective, it still can feel more nervous. I'm not sure why, whether it's just societal pressure against NFP, or what. Third, NFP does require more effort (at least at first), It is easier to pop a pill or use of condom (though it gets far simpler as you go along and get more used to it.


#19

[quote="Brav3N3wWorld, post:16, topic:250641"]
I hate to be the "Debbie Downer" on NFP, but I want to offer a realistic picture to help the OP with her decision.

My husband and I have practiced NFP ever since we were married, four years ago. We now have two children. The first child was a result of NFP error...that was I misread my signs and got pregnant. It was only AFTER I conceived that we were able to look back at the chart and see that I ovulated "there" and not "here." Oops!

Now, having an unplanned pregnancy (unplanned by me, but not God), didn't wreck our marriage, but it really made things difficult...very difficult, and it did strain things somewhat.

After child #2, a result of using NFP with less caution, our family hit bad times financially, lost our home, had to move in with DH's parents, no finances...basically a bad situation. This would have happened with or without the children, but when you are in an unstable situation, it is even MORE stressful with children because you worry about them too, not just yourself and your husband. I still wouldn't trade my kids for the world,and I also wouldn't have them, if we had been doing something other than NFP.

We are now at a point in our marriage, where we are mutually committed to abstinence until we get back on our feet. This will take a few years, but it is an agreed arrangement. We simply cannot trust NFP to "work" at this point in our lives.

With that said, I think NFP can "work" for avoiding pregnancy, but the couple must have a lot of self control, REALLY UNDERSTAND and FEEL COMFORTABLE using it. :thumbsup:

My suggestion is a period of mutually agreed upon abstinence, six months, perhaps. Use this time to learn the method, chart, and really understand you're body and what you are seeing with NFP. Then use very conservative rules with NFP. Do not continue to have sexual relations while learning NFP, because in my experience, this is a sure-fire way to be that 24% statistic and have a chart-reading error. Now if having children, wouldn't be disastrous, then I say continue marital relations while learning NFP. ;) I'm just trying to give you something else to consider.

[/quote]

Thanks for the other perspective. A couple thoughts though:

  • All the methods I have suggested (not sure about Billings) can be used immediately. Marquette, for example, has one set of instructions for use during the first 6 cycles and another set for after that. So it is possible to begin using NFP immediately. I did find it nice to be able to spend a few months learning with my wife before we were married, so the OP could always try something like that, being very conservative at first and less so as she and her husband gradually get more comfortable.

  • Your story does show how important it is to use NFP correctly and understand it well, but this is what I mean when I say the success rates are very high when used correctly. If one is nervous, he/she could also take a class, since a friend mentioned that some studies suggest that people who take a class tend to be more successful. My wife and I felt comfortable enough that we didn't bother, but it is always an option.

  • It is important not to be scared off by a few "horror" stories of someone using NFP and getting pregnant. It is certainly possible, as with any form of birth control, but people shouldn't be so scared by one or two pieces of anecdotal evidence that they lose perspective, namely that many people (and real scientific studies do count for more than anecdotal evidence) are able to succesfully use NFP to avoid or attain pregancy. It does come with its challenges, but it seems to me like they are worth it.


#20

Of course NFP is effective when used correctly. My argument is simply that it is easy to misread your chart or fertility signs, especially with inexperience or with irregular cycles or health problems that would make it difficult.

It would be one thing if the evidence were merely anecdotal, but the user effectiveness rating is closer to 76%. Lets not pretend that the effectiveness is better than birth control pills, it's not. It's far easier to prevent user error with artificial birth control--pop a pill at the same time each morning vs. take your temperature at the same time each morning, evaluate body discharges each time you go to the bathroom, measure cervix, record everything on the chart, have knowledge about different kinds of cervical mucus vs. seminal residue, know that things could get messed up and misread if you take certain medicines, then pinpoint your ovulation date in the midst of all this. Basically, unless you are experienced, it's easy to misread these things.

I'm not advocating artificial birth control; I'm simply trying to offer a realistic view of NFP. I have known far more couples with unplanned pregnancies on NFP than I do couples with unplanned pregnancies with artificial birth control. And any kind of scientific study not put out by pro-NFP agencies will support this.

NFP is not the same as contraception and should not be viewed with a contraceptive mentality. If you do, you will always be super nervous while using it. And this nervousness puts its own strain on a marriage.

Basically, it's a Catch-22 situation, either take the marital strain of complete abstinence or the marital strain of "oh-****-I-hope-I-interpreted-the-chart-right" and the potential marital strain of an unplanned pregnancy. At this point in my life, I find complete abstinence a much lighter cross and better for my marriage. :shrug:


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