Another NFP Question - please help me get over this feeling


#1

I’m hoping I phrase this all correctly, please bear with me :slight_smile:

I am getting married in September. Both my fiance and I are Catholic, and virgins. Although we both desperately want to have children, we have just reason to avoid pregnancy, for at least the first year of our marriage - namely my health, but I also do not believe a pregnancy/baby would be safe where we will be living. I’ve been saying many St. Joseph novenas that the living situation will change and we will be able to start a family sooner than expected! For various reasons, understood by both our pastors and supported, it is best that we marry now, and not wait any longer, so please do not suggest that option :slight_smile: And I want to make clear that if an unexpected/planned pregnancy does occur, we would rejoice. I would probably start up my panic attacks again, but be estatic all the while :wink:

We are both in agreement as to the evils, both to our souls and my body, of hormonal contraception. The pill/patch/shot is completely out of the question. We have considered condoms, but both of us find the idea kind of icky. We want to feel each other after all this waiting, not a piece of rubber!

We WANT to use NFP. We understand the science behind it. We know it is the most effective method, and the safest, health wise. My husband to be is very good at controlling himself, and is willing to go along with whatever I decide is best. I’m the problem here, and I can’t seem to stop having these thought processes, no matter how much I read on the matter, or learn (and I have read quite a deal, been taught (Creighton), charted, etc.

My problem is twofold, and I was wondering if any of you ladies have experienced the same thing, and if you have, how you overcame/dealt with it? Prayers to Mary and various saints for the past several years have not seemed to help :frowning:

1 NFP teaches not to reduce the woman to just a body, to be used for the husband’s pleasure. However, and maybe this will change once I’m married and actually having sex, I am not very interested when I am not fertile. I feel like it would be reducing me just to a body for my husband’s pleasure and release, and I would not enjoy it, if we only make love when I am not physically into it. I’m sure I would like it on one level, because I adore him, and want to please him, but I am worried about the long-term affects - I am a pessimist, I admit, but I look into the future and feel like an object and am concerned I would grow to resent sex and my husband. Orthodox family members have told me that the Orthodox church (which my family belonged to until my mother’s generation, when they converted to the RCC because the church was at the end of the street) believes that condoms are acceptable within the confines of a happy loving marriage for a just reason. I don’t know if this is true, and I am baptized RCC, so it doesn’t really matter…but I do admit it is very tempting.

2 The arguement that NFP is the most effective form, yet totally open to God’s will, and that if God wishes a child to be conceived, he will make fertility occur when it shouldn’t be possible…this kind of makes my brain want to explode. I understand the objection to condoms based on the barrier aspect - someone once described it as putting on armor to go to war, when we should be making love, and I thought that was so perfect - but if God can make sperm viable/eggs release at an unexpected time/complicated hormones come into balance at exactly the right time, why can’t He poke a hole in a piece of latex if a child is meant to come into this world? I realize I probably sound silly, but I can’t shake this problem. All things are possible with God, but His will can be defeated by a condom? How do I get this “plus” of NFP out of my head?

As I said, we’re Catholic, and wish to live in accordance with church teachings. We want to start our marriage right, and have struggled to be correct so far. Even though I am going through something of a crisis of faith, I am adamant about continuing with the sacraments and prayer so that I do not wander away as I have seen others do. I am worried (I should mention that I have been told by my priest that I have a problem with scrupulousity, but then I worry he’s wrong and I’m still sinning, which of course is a sin, and then I wind up convinced I’m already going to hell and so we might as well use condoms along with NFP, because I also don’t trust myself :shrug:

If nothing else, could I humbly ask for your prayers on this matter? I have lurked for awhile, and you all seem so devout and holy and strong and confident. I know I am weak, and cannot do this by myself, and feel that when I ask for myself, no one is listening :frowning:


#2

You will be in my prayers…

Quick questions though…
What are you afraid of? Why don’t you trust what you’ve been taught?

I don’t know the Creighton method of NFP (we use Sympto-Thermal method)…
But I know with certainty when I’m fertile and when I’m not… the only question that comes into play is “do we want to be risky on those potential fertile days?”… it’s a question we ask on a month by month basis, assessing our lives and asking God to help us with the decision.
It’s not a matter of trusting the method (it works!)… it’s trusting God to help guide us to know what he wants for us!

Again… you’ll be in my prayers.


#3

I know that you are having a hard time. My husband and I use Creighton and we love it.

I see what you mean about the fact that everything is possible with God. If he wants you to conceive, he will (no matter what you use). The problem is not God, it is us. People who use condoms or ABC are not open to God’s will. They are using chemical and barrier means as if to say that hey tknow better and God cannot penetrate those. People who use NFP are open to the possiblity of life and welcome it when it comes.

I am sure that someone else will explain it better. I am a medical student so you can imagine the number of people that wish to tell me that it doesn’t work (including my own very devout, Catholic physician cousin). I just smile and point them to the articles written abou this method.

God bless you… I believe you will be just fine.


#4

Thank you, Emily :slight_smile: You’re very kind.

I don’t trust myself, God, or doctors in anything. I have severe anxiety problems that developed after being misdiagnosed for 10 years - I became severely ill at 17, and I believe that because we were poor, because I answered “yes” to the sexual abuse as a child question, and because I was a teenage girl, I was given the brush off. Something was terribly, seriously, physically wrong with me and I was told to be quiet and take anti-depressants (including by Catholic doctors). For a long stretch we did not have insurance. Finally two years ago I was given an MRI, lumbar puncture, multiple tests at a teaching hospital etc, and we know for a fact that there is something neurologically and immunologically very wrong, but they still don’t know quite what, and I have only gotten worse as time has gone on. For years I was told I was lazy or crazy or faking, and was humiliated by doctors and dehumanized, and twice touched in an extremely inappropriate way. And because doctors are viewed as demi-gods in our society, many friends and family turned on me. Oops, they say now, we were wrong. But they haven’t been able to help even now that they admit that.

So I think I don’t trust what I’ve been taught with NFP because I have problems trusting anyone in a position of medical authority. And I don’t trust God because I feel as though He gave me this mysterious illness as a punishment for being molested as a child (I became ill the day after fervently asking God to send me some way to get out of a date with a boy who reminded me of my molestor). It’s totally twisted and illogical, I know that. And I am in counseling, both spiritual and secular, but it is very difficult to shake.

I know that prayer is the answer, but I feel as though I am praying the wrong way, or not hard enough, or good enough. I know that God will do as He wishes, and not as I wish, and that I must surrender and submit, and ask for more. It’s just very hard after 12 years of debilitating pain and fatigue, disease and lonliness and contempt and judgement from family members, friends, church members, neighbors to accept. I’m starting to feel like some kind of masochist by offering it up and not rebelling against it :frowning:


#5

Thank you :slight_smile: I know in my heart that I do not know better than God. I do not want to give the impression that I think I do. For me at least, I think it is more about trust than knowledge. I need to pray for the assurance that God does love me, and wants what is best for me.


#6

God bless you and your fiance as you struggle through this phase of life.

I’ll try to answer one of your questions about desire during the fertile phase. It is true you are most interested when you are fertile, that’s only normal. However, if you truly have a reason to not have a baby right then, it should be a bit easier…or you’ll decide the reason isn’t good enough and decide to go ahead. Also, you need to realize that the most effective sex organ is your brain. It is quite possible to be very interested in the marital embrace even if you’re not in the fertile phase, if you put your mind to it. :smiley: Remember that marital sex is a renewal of your Sacramental marriage vows. Perhaps check out the Cathechism (I’m sure you have already, but a reminder is always good :slight_smile: ) on Marriage
scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a7.htm#1601

Also, NFP is acceptable to the Church because it does not alter the sex act or make it sterile. We women are not fertile 24/7 and therefore, most of the time we have sex, it’s during the infertile times. All NFP does is give us info about when those fertile and infertile times are and allows us to prayerfully decern whether we are able to accept a child at that time. NFP should not be the default position of your marriage, unless health or other factors indicate it is necessary. The default is to let children come as the Lord sends them. NFP should only be used for serious (grave, just, whatever word works for you) reasons.

My dh and I are converts and when we first started NFP it was scary (I learned it as a stepping stone from contracepting) Now 13 years later we have 5 children and are expecting #6 in July. We use it off and on to space our babies a bit. Had we not converted and not learned NFP we would have 2 children and I would be missing out on 3 of my blessings and the grace that comes with accepting them. Is everyone called to have “this many” :wink: children, no, but we were only called one at a time!!! We are not financially “well off” but we make it pretty well. I’m able to stay home and the oldest 2 go to Catholic school.

I hope that helps a bit (and doesn’t make your anxiety worse, lol). NFP used by couples with a real need, can find that it brings them closer and allows them another level of communication.

God bless,
Jennifer


#7

Hello and congratulations! thanks for asking the questions here, I’m also still relatively new here and the folks have helped me a lot!

I know you proposed this question mainly to the ladies, but I’ll respond.

1 NFP teaches not to reduce the woman to just a body, to be used for the husband’s pleasure. However, and maybe this will change once I’m married and actually having sex, I am not very interested when I am not fertile. I feel like it would be reducing me just to a body for my husband’s pleasure and release, and I would not enjoy it, if we only make love when I am not physically into it. I’m sure I would like it on one level, because I adore him, and want to please him, but I am worried about the long-term affects - I am a pessimist, I admit, but I look into the future and feel like an object and am concerned I would grow to resent sex and my husband. Orthodox family members have told me that the Orthodox church (which my family belonged to until my mother’s generation, when they converted to the RCC because the church was at the end of the street) believes that condoms are acceptable within the confines of a happy loving marriage for a just reason. I don’t know if this is true, and I am baptized RCC, so it doesn’t really matter…but I do admit it is very tempting.

I wouldn’t know about the teachings of the orthodox church, but I would encourage you to read Theology of the Body. Christopher West is probably the best authority on sex in a Catholic Marraige.
He will help you see why and how our sexuality was intended for marriage.

To be honest, the problem you are highlighting is one that a lot of couples are struggling with, myself included. It’s great that you can identify and address this issue early, even before you are married, may God bless you for that!

2 The arguement that NFP is the most effective form, yet totally open to God’s will, and that if God wishes a child to be conceived, he will make fertility occur when it shouldn’t be possible…this kind of makes my brain want to explode. I understand the objection to condoms based on the barrier aspect - someone once described it as putting on armor to go to war, when we should be making love, and I thought that was so perfect - but if God can make sperm viable/eggs release at an unexpected time/complicated hormones come into balance at exactly the right time, why can’t He poke a hole in a piece of latex if a child is meant to come into this world? I realize I probably sound silly, but I can’t shake this problem. All things are possible with God, but His will can be defeated by a condom? How do I get this “plus” of NFP out of my head?

NFP works really really well…statistically better than condoms.

All things are possible with God. But, God gave us free will, and as a faithful Cahtolic, we need to show God that we place our trust in Him, and that we totally give our lives to Him.

With Condoms and other ABC’s, we show God that we do not trust him and that we know better that He does.
Sure, a condom can rupture, it’s been known to happen many times…or people get pregnant whilst on the pill, but to use these things (appart from the abortive agents attached to many of these ABC’s) it’s a slap in God’s face to tell Him that we know better.

I was extremely sceptical about NFP when we first started. But it’s worked out really well for us.

All the best and I hope you get the answers you are looking for here.

In Christ,
PM


#8

In answer to your 1st question about your desire, surely your desire is stronger when you’re fertile, but in my experience, knowing that we have to take our opportunities when they come is somewhat of an aphrodisiac. The abstinance period for me helps to build up the desire, so even though I’m not physically desirous, I am mentally so. After I go without having sex with my husband for a while, I start to miss him.

In answer to your second question, I would never want to know myself, or worse have my child know that they were the product of a failed condom. That may not strike some folks as hard as it does me. I think it’s very sad that so many people are brought into this world by their parents as an “accident”. To start a parent-child relationship in this way is a disservice to both the parent and the child. Condoms have a miserable failure rate in the real world under real life circumstances. The effectiveness rates they advertise are based on laboratory settings where they are used perfectly every time. There’s no love or fun in the laboratory. Add the love and fun, and sometimes you do silly things. And you should be allowed to be silly with your husband when you’re having sex! Condoms are an interruption & unnatural complication to the experience of loving your spouse.

Trust your knowledge of NFP, and above ALL, trust in God!


#9

I think you will find reality quite different when you do marry. Desire may ebb and flow not only during various times of the month but also based on stress, tiredness, etc.

And, you think you might be less “interested”, but I promise you-- you won’t find this to be true.

I think you’ll find that your fears here are unfounded.

True or not, as you said-- irrelevant.

It may be the argument you hear a lot, but it’s not the foundation of Church teaching on the matter. I find this particular line of thinking completely unsatisfactory, and do not explain church teaching in this way at all.

Of course he could, which is why the argument above is ineffective and inaccurate and why I dislike it.

Hopefully by replacing it with what the Church actually teaches. Will post that shortly in a separate post (going to go look up something I wrote in another thread and repost it).

yes, you should mention this, it’s quite important. I hope you’ll continue to work with your priest to overcome it.


#10

Here’s my cut & paste on the difference between contraception and NFP.

Note, it has NOTHING to do with “effectiveness”.

NFP and contraception are both methods of birth control. Birth control is just the spacing & planning of children.

The Church does not teach birth control is immoral. The Church teaches that contraception is an immoral **means **of birth control. Big difference.

Each marriage act (act of sexual intercourse) must be unaltered before, during, or after the act. No action may taken to alter the act because each act must be objectively unitive and procreative in order to be authentic and properly ordered as God designed.

Subjectively that particular act may or may not be procreative. For example, if someone is naturally infertile due to time of the month, post-menopause, already pregnant, etc, then an unaltered act of intercourse is objectively procreative but subjectively does not result in conception.

How does NFP meet this criteria? In NFP each marital act is objectively unitive and procreative. If you have reason to avoid pregnancy you do not engage in the act. That respects the objective elements that must be present in every act.
**
How does contraception fail to meet this criteria?** When contracepting a couple engages in the marital act while simultaneously altering the act to nullify it’s procreative element-- either before, during, or after the act. Before-- sterilization, Pill, sponge, diaphram, condom, IUD. During-- withdrawal, masterbatory acts that don’t culminate in intercourse. After- morning after pill, abortion. All of these things alter the act either in anticipation of, during, or after.

**NFP says: **Don’t want to become pregnant at that time? *Abstain *and respect the act as God created it because we and the act serve God. Engage in the act when the woman is naturally infertile and never alter the act.

Contraception says: Don’t want to become pregnant? Have sex and mutilate the act because the act serves us.

NFP is not an alterative to contraception, it’s an alternative to complete abstinence.


#11

I understand what you are going through!
My husband and I began using NFP in January. I am open to whatever God’s plan for us is, as is my husband (although somewhat reluctantly because he does not “feel” we are ready for more children.) He was also very against the fact that we had to abstain for a period of time. I was honest with him about where I was in my cycle, and we decided to trust God completely with the outcome. I say a prayer everyday that if God sees something in the future that would not be in the best interest of a child, or that becoming pregnant would cause something to happen that would not be according to His will, that He would not allow us to conceive at that time. If it is His will, I pray He will provide us with the ability to care for the child and carry it to full term. Guess what? Even though we had marital relations during extremely fertile times, we have not conceived. If I do become pregnant in the future, I trust it is part of His plan.

By the way, I also have suffered years of anxiety, including a bout with OCD that has since subsided. I know what you are going through and would love to talk to you if you need someone to talk to.:slight_smile:


#12

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and entering the sacrament of marriage. I agree that Theology of the Body (JPII) is a wonderful book, however, a possibly easier solution would be a book by Christopher West (as previously stated), I recommend a CD set by him Naked Without Shame. They explain the importance of the marital act in the sacramental marriage much better than I ever could, but I will address a few of your questions in brief.

  1. Sexual intercourse is an essential part of married and must entail both the procreative and the unitive aspects in order to fulfill God’s plan. It is a mutual giving of the self to your spouse (which is somewhat scary at times, but important). It is not about pleasure (although this is an outcome of it), but about helping to have a deeper experience of the love shared by the Trinity. Every time that a married couple has sex, they are reaffirming their marital vows, renewing their promise before God. NFP also teachs spouses about sacrafice and self-restraint (so that we do not allow our lust to control intercourse). Condoms are not accepted by the Church for reasons mentioned above, in addition to the fact that they seperate the unitive and procreative aspects of intercourse (refer to Naked without Shame, CCC, etc.)

  2. This argument I feel is weak (albiet simple) when describing the Churches ruling on Contraception (you may also want to read Humanae Vitae). There is much more to it. I believe Christopher West described it something like this (paraprase): Using birthcontrol in any form is something like saying I accept you for who you are…well almost all of you, but no way will I accept your fertility.

Must go, crying Child. Hope this helps
God bless,
Kate


#13

I don’t mean to be dense, or argumentative - but isn’t abstaining stringently during fertile periods saying the same thing? I understand that there is nothing unnatural about it, but you are still saying I don’t want to be unitive or procreative with you when there’s even the remote possiblity of fertility. It feels like semantics to make some feel better about what they are doing (NOT everyone, but of people I know in real life, who use NFP, almost all of them have a mindset identical to those on ABC yet consider themselves holier). I am sure there are many who use NFP as the church intends, and I do hope to be one of them. I think I fear sinning so much that I feel as though I will subconsciously have a “contraceptive” mindset even while using NFP, and will doom us to hell.

Thank you all for your words of support and information - katieq, servingHim, 1ke, BeeSweet!, PennitentMan, Jennifer J, Em_in_FL, and ElizaE. You’ve given me much to think about and pray over - I am feeling a bit more assured already (though very nervous that I’ve said so much publically!). I have read Theology of the Body, the Catechism, Bible, etc, but not Christopher West. I will check him out.

I spoke about this with my fiance this afternoon - he wonders if I have a “desire” to use condoms (I hate saying it like that, because I really don’t…I can’t quite describe it) because I know they’re less effective, and I want to have a child so badly. The problem may not be that I don’t trust NFP to work, but that I trust it too much, and don’t want to avoid even though we should. We will pray together, he is a great strength for me :slight_smile:


#14

In response to the bold: No, because most of do this (abstain) most of the time; in fact if you are reading this you are probably doing it (abstaining) right now (–totally stole that from Christopher West :wink: ). The church doesn’t require one to “go for it” each and every time one is fertile.


#15

Haha, I think I’ll like Christopher West. I’ve been abstaining my whole life. Though I do love reading, so who knows what’ll happen once I’m married :smiley:

I do understand we’re not required to “go for it” when we’re fertile, and I’ve read the church teachings, and am striving to understand the reasoning. It’s easier said than done - I’ve always been someone who wants to not only know “why” but have the “why” make perfect sense, and I am flawed, so struggle to understand at times. I can physically obey the church teaching, but will have terrible strife in my head until I understand. In no area of life have I ever been able to say “they’re the experts, I can relax and accept and not think about it if I don’t get it”. Drives my mother nuts :wink:


#16

I am sorry but I have heard this arguement much and I do not understand it. There is most decidedly a HUGE difference between couples who use NFP and those that contracept. One behavior is acceptable by the church and the other is a Mortal
Sin, that is about as huge a difference as you can get. There are many I know that would try and turn NFP couples into mortal sinners because they are using NFP for the “wrong reasons” but this is treading in dangerous waters because you are claiming to know what is in a person’s heart. The church allows people to postpone or avoid pregnancy for “just” reasons. That would require much prayer and discernment for each couple to define what is a “just” reason. I do not believe that the church expects couples to have as many children as biologically possible. Perhaps a couple is not getting along? Perhaps they do not feel they can emotionally handle another child? All of these are private matters.

Even if a couple is using NFP for so-called selfish reasons, they may be misguided or maybe even sinning (as most selfishness is a sin) but they are NOT in the same catagory as those couples who use artificial contraception (in my opinion) and the attempt to connect the two behaviors is misguided.

And don’t worry about the desire part. Your desire will increase as your love for your husband does. And of COURSE you will make love with your husband when not in the mood sometimes. Just as you will kiss him when not in the mood, or kiss and play with your children when not in the mood, or take care of your sick family when not in the mood…these are all gifts of love you give to your family.


#17

I only know what they tell me, not what is in their hearts. They are the same kind of Catholics who would sleep together before marriage on Saturday night, and then go to confession and then mass sunday morning. Every week. They are out there, bragging about being “in” with God, while being able to avoid pregnancy because, in their words, no time will ever be good, because they didn’t want kids when they got married in the RCC! And these are people who went to pre-cana, engaged encounters, spoke to priests.

These people exist. It is sad, but it does no good to pretend they don’t. But maybe they’re lying about what they’re doing, and their hearts are pure (well, except for the lying to friends) and I am judging their hearts. It wouldn’t be my most grievious sin.

Just because you do not understand a mindset does not mean it does not occur.


#18

I respect what you say and I pray for your struggle I know it must not be easy.

I admire you much for the thought and time you put into your faith.

Please prayerfully consider that some people are not called to be parents. Even married couples. I know some of them. They have thought and prayed and really have no desire to be parents. They do not care for children much and seem to lack a maternal/paternal instinct. They do not have that gift.

I actually admire these couples. It takes a lot of “guts” to admit you don’t have a vocation to be a parent. People think of you as shallow or perhaps even selfish. As long as these couples are using NFP they are acting within the guidelines of the church. When you are married in the church you agree to accept children as God gives them to you but you do not have to deliberately try to have children (my understanding).

And the only reason I caution people to not worry about other peoples mindsets is because it can usually only cause trouble. You may see someone donating money to church or charity but then think they are only doing it for attention. You can observe someone being kind but then question their motives and wonder if they are really sincere. You can know a couple is using NFP but then wonder if they are really doing it for the right reason. I have lived this life and looked at others through those eyes…it was awful.

I also understand what you are saying about couples who sleep together and go to confession. But really, that is just saying that they are regular sinners. So am I. So are all of us.

I know that you started this thread to look for support. I hope I am not coming across as trying to challenge you because that was not my intention at all. In your post, I saw myself some time ago. I saw people who I thought were hypocritical and wanted to avoid that for myself. I learned after much time that the actions of others and their motivations were something I should not ponder because much of the time I was wrong. I am not saying that you are. I just know you have much on your mind and wanted to reassure you that NFP and postponing children was not sinful.

I will be praying for you and your upcoming wedding. How wonderful that you have saved yourself for marriage. I wish I had the deepness of faith that you have when I was first married. God bless you and I hope this helps, really I just wanted to be helpful and reassure you that you would not be sinning using NFP.


#19

Hi Amaris,

Sorry about my incomplete message before…Again for a much better explanation than I can ever give…Christopher West! :smiley: . Regarding semantics though: it is true that NFP can be used with an incorrect mindset. This is true about nearly everything in life. That being said, even if you were to use NFP with a sinful mindset (that is to say actively acknowledging “I am using NFP when I have no true reason, but simply because it is not convenient for me to have a child now/doesn’t fit in with my schedule/etc”) you are not doomed to hell…and in the case of contraception would you feel any better on these grounds?
(also note that your thoughts on NFP would not reflect on your fiance unless he shared them). Ditto to what Monicad mentioned about the fact that we abstain most of our life.:smiley: (On a side note, I believe another thing Christopher West mentioned was that NFP can be used to both prevent and attain pregnancy…something that can’t be said about ABC).

It is good that you are entering this thoughtfully and prayerfully. Even when using NFP, you must continuously review your motivations and intentions in its use to prevent from being incorrectly motivated. One benefit of NFP is that when you abstain (and indeed, all through your charting) you are required to discuss this with your spouse and it provides an opportunity for conversation regarding when it is time to begin your wonderful journey of parenthood.

I’m not sure what you mean here…do you mean you trust NFP to prevent pregnancy so much that you wouldn’t abstain during fertile times? Just wondering

On a personal note, I am an NFP convert so to speak. I only gave NFP a thought when my then-fiance/now-husband told me that he was not open to ABC and so I understand many of your misgivings. Don’t give up, its worth the time to understand this teaching of the Church, which has its very roots in God’s creation of man and the dignity and beauty of humanity and marriage! It’s wonderful that you pray together, it’s such a blessing to marriages.

God bless


closed #20

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