Divorce rate in NFP couples


#1

I read and post on a message board related to wedding planning, and recently there have been some posts about Pre-Cana and NFP. There are a few of us standing up for NFP who actively practice it.

Someone brought up the low divorce rate in NFP couples, and of course someone else questioned it and wondered “how ‘they’ came about their information.”

Does anyone have a good source for this statistic that includes how the information was gathered?

I’m heading over to CCLI to look, but I know if anyone can help me out, it’s all of you!


#2

I believe that statistic is from CCLI, they’ve done several NFP related studies, so that is your best bet. I would also try the people at One More Soul to see if they can give you a source.

I was using a couple of those boards while planning my wedding, and found them to be helpful for wedding tips. I stayed around afterwards for a while. But, honestly, I left them b/c I could see that they were affecting me negatively. The hatred of all things truly Christian (as opposed to the whatever-I-want-it-to-be Christianity) was just too much.

If you are posting on Knot/Nest be ready to be attacked at every turn for your faith and ridiculed if you aren’t a “hip”, “liberal”, “open-minded” Christian. I just left all that negativity behind.


#3

Found a couple of things doing a quick search:

physiciansforlife.org/content/view/193/36

ccli.org/nfp/marriage/maritalduration.php

rtlcc.org/topics/contraceptiveabortion/DivorceproofNFP.htm


#4

[quote=BasBleu]I read and post on a message board related to wedding planning, and recently there have been some posts about Pre-Cana and NFP. There are a few of us standing up for NFP who actively practice it.

Someone brought up the low divorce rate in NFP couples, and of course someone else questioned it and wondered “how ‘they’ came about their information.”

Does anyone have a good source for this statistic that includes how the information was gathered?

I’m heading over to CCLI to look, but I know if anyone can help me out, it’s all of you!
[/quote]

I wouldn’t be surprised if the divorce rates for NFP couples were extremely low, but I think it is erroneous to conclude that NFP leads to good marriages.

I think it’s fair to say that only very conservate Catholics use NFP (I think most Western Catholics use birth control). They obviously use NFP for religious reasons, and those same religious reasons prohibit divorce.

If they are faithful to the Church to the extent of not using birth control, it only makes sense that their faithfulness would extend to not divorcing.

For all we know, they could have horrible marriages and stay together simply because divorce is a sin. (Not saying that this is the case, just that it could be and still produce the same statistics.)

The moral is that correlation is not the same as causation.


#5

Ugh, really? I’m a member at UltimateWedding and at least before the crash in late summer it was a very friendly place. There were many Christian brides (of all denoms) and it was very welcoming. I even posted on a thread for brides going through RCIA!

In the new community I ran into one groom who was bashing his Pre-Cana and mentioned laughing at and throwing away a prayer book he and his fiancee received. I bristled at that, but he’s just a jerk all the way around over there. So far he doesn’t seem to have much support. All the same, I’m wary about how the community will shape up since its rebuild; it’s still so new I’ll have to wait and see.


#6

[quote=askeptic]I wouldn’t be surprised if the divorce rates for NFP couples were extremely low, but I think it is erroneous to conclude that NFP leads to good marriages.

I think it’s fair to say that only very conservate Catholics use NFP (I think most Western Catholics use birth control). They obviously use NFP for religious reasons, and those same religious reasons prohibit divorce.

If they are faithful to the Church to the extent of not using birth control, it only makes sense that their faithfulness would extend to not divorcing.

For all we know, they could have horrible marriages and stay together simply because divorce is a sin. (Not saying that this is the case, just that it could be and still produce the same statistics.)

The moral is that correlation is not the same as causation.
[/quote]

While you are correct that we should be wary of drawing a causal link where none exists, with NFP I believe there is one. Consider this: couples practicing NFP correctly must actually discuss and both be apprised of days of fertility and infertility. For most couples, this topic isn’t an easy one to discuss at first, certainly not in the detail required for NFP. My husband is an obstetrician, and I still get a bit uncomfortable talking about mucus! Increased communication will lead to a stronger marriage, you cannot but agree. And similarly, no one person in the relationship is passing off the responsibility for family planning on the other. Both are responsible for the knowledge and decision-making. Further, you can see a clear causal link between increased relations and NFP: you know when it’s the “right” time, depending on your intention to conceive or delay, and that’s almost as good as pencilling in a date (or 21). Increased marital relations=better marriage. In addition, in truly practicing NFP, the couple is instructed to pray before deciding whether to try to conceive or delay. Increased mutual prayer surely leads to better marriage. How can you argue with that? Further, in learning more about NFP, a couple is almost likely to increase in their faith, as they read about and internalize the theology behind it–self-donative love, the dual purpuse of the marital embrace, etc. Stronger faith life will lead to better marriage.
I had one more thought, but my kids are running wild and I lost it! I do think there are people who go into marriage really up on their knowledge of the theology of the body and the Church’s position on contraception, and such persons can hop right into NFP with full understanding of the whys and the comfort of great faith to soidify their marriage, my experience has been the opposite: as I and the vast majority of devout Catholic friends I know have gone through married life, we have increased in faith and thereby sought knowledge to more fully live out the teachings of the Church, and in doing so, embraced NFP because of the reasoning and instruction behind it. We have become more orthodox Catholics because of NFP, not the other way around. This is antecdotal, to be sure, but it is true for every couple I know.


#7

[quote=askeptic] I wouldn’t be surprised if the divorce rates for NFP couples were extremely low, but I think it is erroneous to conclude that NFP leads to good marriages.
[/quote]

It is not erroneous at all.

[quote=askeptic] I think it’s fair to say that only very conservate Catholics use NFP
[/quote]

You are wrong here. Many people who are not Catholic use it. And in fact many who are not religious at all use NFP. There is a very big movement among what I would call “green” types (those that don’t want chemicals in their bodies, are pro-organic food, etc) who use natural birth control-- Toni Weschler is their guru.

You are very myopic to assume it is only Catholics and only “conservative” Catholics.

Please educate yourself.

[quote=askeptic] (I think most Western Catholics use birth control). They obviously use NFP for religious reasons, and those same religious reasons prohibit divorce. If they are faithful to the Church to the extent of not using birth control, it only makes sense that their faithfulness would extend to not divorcing.
[/quote]

I disagree with your assessment that “only” conservative Catholics use NFP. I have friends who use it, who are Catholics, who I would not describe as “conservative” Catholics.

[quote=askeptic] For all we know, they could have horrible marriages and stay together simply because divorce is a sin. (Not saying that this is the case, just that it could be and still produce the same statistics.)
[/quote]

Divorce itself is not inherently sinful-- the Church allows it for serious reasons. It is only remarriage that puts one outside the Church.

[quote=askeptic] The moral is that correlation is not the same as causation.
[/quote]

Perhaps you should read the literature and studies first before just pronouncing them invalid. I think that you make some huge (wrong) assumptions in this area.


#8

First of all, it depends in which country you are…Trust me in Western Europe ANY form of NFP is either unknown or highly frowned upon. I once tried to help a friend in Holland find an NFP teacher, and it wasn’t possible. The nearest one was an American lady who did it as a side-line, about a couple hundred miles away. I’d say here in Europe 95% of Catholics use contraception, and this has been supported by studies (papers here are obsessed with Catholic sex, so they ask people time and time again).

I had NEVER heard of NFP (not even during our marriage preparation course!) until we bought a computer and I hit upon a ‘devout catholic women’-message-board.

So, to say NFP is better for your marriage, I’d have to say: it quite possibly is, but in Europe it gets no press at all (not even in Catholic countries such as Spain and Portugal)…so here it won’t make much difference. In the US, if more people use it, I’m sure it IS a good thing-but I agree, it’s probably conservative Catholics using it in the first place, and they are highly unlikely to be in favour of divorce the way secular society is.

By the way, we use ‘Billings’ :thumbsup: ( an American woman from another message-board is a teacher, and is teaching me online!)

Anna x


#9

My husband and I facilitate the pre-cana classes at our church and we have the statistics in one of our books. There were a few studies done on NFP and marriage/divorce rates. I will be getting those boxes out sometime soon here and will post what the book says.


#10

I wouldn’t be surprised if the divorce rates for NFP couples were extremely low, but I think it is erroneous to conclude that NFP leads to good marriages.

Thank you! This is absolutely correct. This is one of the things that always bugged me-- I agree that NFP is undoubtedly good for marriages, and strengthens them for all the reasons discussed on this board, but correlation does not imply causality! This is simple statistics.

The most obvious problem with making a blanket statement that “NFP causes low divorce rates” is that you’re not dealing with a random sample. If you really wanted to observe the effect of NFP on divorce rates, you would want to do a prospective study, selecting a **random ** sample of thousands of married couples of different ages, economic groups, religions, races, fertility levels, etc. and split them randomly into two groups, one of which would use NFP only. You would follow these groups for some extended length of time (years) and see what proportion of each group divorced. This way, you could control for all of those other factors and could be more confident that the effect you’re seeing is due *only * to NFP and not something else.

You might well find that the NFP group had a lower divorce rate-- I wouldn’t be surprised, as I mentioned that I believe NFP is good for marriages. HOwever, it probably wouldn’t be the <5% rate that I’ve heard CCLI quote. The fact is that most (not all) of couples using NFP do so for religious reasons-- conservative Catholic or not. You’re not dealing with a random sample here: these are the couples who, for the same religious reasons, are likely to view marriage in a sacramental light and thus are more likely to stay together than the general population.

You need to be careful with statistics. No one’s done a great study of the effect of NFP on divorce rates, but I’d love to see one! :smiley:


#11

[quote=smallcat] You’re not dealing with a random sample here: these are the couples who, for the same religious reasons, are likely to view marriage in a sacramental light and thus are more likely to stay together than the general population.

[/quote]

That’s what I think too. In the past 5 years of my marriage we have hit on severeal situations where a more worldly couple would say: ‘Okay, that’s it! I want a divorce!’, but because we view marriage as a life-long sacrament, and we are willing to work through our difficulties, we are still together. That has little to do with the NFP ‘alone’ and more with our faith and morals.

Anna x


#12

Saying that there is a correlation is not denying the possibility of a causation. We have evidence of a correlation, perhaps we will find evidence of a causation.

My hunch is there is a causal effect that benefits marriages. We already know that our actions affect the way we think. We already know that it takes discipline and communication to maintain a marriage. Practicing NFP is just that practicing - it’s like the fitness club for marriage.

Not to mention that every month we are reminded of the two-fold purpose of sex, unitive and procreative. That procreative dimension is the “something larger than ourselves” part. And we know throughout history that people form very strong bonds when they are mutually engaged in something larger than themselves. That bond then becomes synergistic, allowing almost superhuman abilities. Like two soldiers fighting for their country can take on an entire regiment.

So though we do not yet have the scientific evidence, it is not inappropriate to believe that there is a causal relationship between NFP and lasting marriages.

For all we know, they could have horrible marriages and stay together simply because divorce is a sin. (Not saying that this is the case, just that it could be and still produce the same statistics.)

The quality of the marriage is meaningless, an intact marriage is still a victory. It’s like saying that a team didn’t really win the Superbowl because all the stats were in favor of the opponent. The winning team may have had more penalties, more turnovers, fewer yards rushing, and fewer yards passing, but they had more points and in the end that’s all that matters.


#13

[quote=askeptic]I wouldn’t be surprised if the divorce rates for NFP couples were extremely low, but I think it is erroneous to conclude that NFP leads to good marriages.

If they are faithful to the Church to the extent of not using birth control, it only makes sense that their faithfulness would extend to not divorcing.

For all we know, they could have horrible marriages and stay together simply because divorce is a sin. (Not saying that this is the case, just that it could be and still produce the same statistics.)
.
[/quote]

I totally agree. I know my grandparents are the perfect example of deeply catholic couple that practiced NFP and never divorced but CAN’T stand to even be around eachother.
Why stay married if it is only going to bring unhappiness on earth?

Try and make it work…but if it can’t…move on.


#14

Contraception = the “Berlin Wall” of Marriage

NFP - Divorce Proofing Marriage - communication is a key factor in the causation.


#15

Our marriage prep course used statistics from 2000, but they are still pretty relevant. It had several tiers of “devoutness” from not religious to very devout. These statistics were used to encourage couples to pray together and attend Mass, not necessarily to encourage NFP.

Among those who identified themselves as being very devout according to their answers to church involvement, there was still a marked difference in divorce rate between those practicing and those not practicing NFP.

This demonstrates that NFP couples enjoy a lower divorce rate even among peers who have the same views on the sacramental permanence of marriage and the immorality of (divorce and) remarriage.

NFP couples also report being much more satisfied with their sex life than non-NFP couples. Satisfaction with one’s sex life is pretty much guaranteed to have a causal relationship with divorce rate.


#16

[quote=vluvski]Our marriage prep course used statistics from 2000, but they are still pretty relevant. It had several tiers of “devoutness” from not religious to very devout. These statistics were used to encourage couples to pray together and attend Mass, not necessarily to encourage NFP.

Among those who identified themselves as being very devout according to their answers to church involvement, there was still a marked difference in divorce rate between those practicing and those not practicing NFP.

This demonstrates that NFP couples enjoy a lower divorce rate even among peers who have the same views on the sacramental permanence of marriage and the immorality of (divorce and) remarriage.

NFP couples also report being much more satisfied with their sex life than non-NFP couples. Satisfaction with one’s sex life is pretty much guaranteed to have a causal relationship with divorce rate.
[/quote]

Would you be able to reference the actual studies + their methodology for collecting the data?


#17

[quote=maryfullofgrace]I totally agree. I know my grandparents are the perfect example of deeply catholic couple that practiced NFP and never divorced but CAN’T stand to even be around eachother.
Why stay married if it is only going to bring unhappiness on earth?

Try and make it work…but if it can’t…move on.
[/quote]

I’m a bit confused with this logic. Why stay married? Because ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder’ Once you are married, there is no way to change that (unless one of the two dies).

About separation:
“1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble. 159”

Don’t mean to sound harsh or anything, but just wondering what you meant by moving on. BTW, happiness on Earth may not be what we think it is. Sacrifice and suffering are part of happiness on Earth :slight_smile:


#18

Hi vluvski!
I have a question on this, when you mention those practicing NFP vs not, do you mean the “not” are using the pill or other forms of ABC or are they simply not using NFP? I think that is something important to point out too.

Also, how do they measure devoutness? I know people that are active in Church activities etc but live in public sin, and may publicly disagree with some of the Church’s teachings (ie abc, premarital sex, etc). I am just curious if they would be considered equally devout as others that do agree with and live out the Church’s teachings.

With that said, I truly do believe that if we were a study done comparing the effects of ABC and NFP (especially if it is used correctly) on the stability of a marriage, NFP would be prove to be the best.


#19

[quote=lifeisbeautiful]I’m a bit confused with this logic. Why stay married? Because ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder’ Once you are married, there is no way to change that (unless one of the two dies).

About separation:
“1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble. 159”

Don’t mean to sound harsh or anything, but just wondering what you meant by moving on. BTW, happiness on Earth may not be what we think it is. Sacrifice and suffering are part of happiness on Earth :slight_smile:
[/quote]

“Sacrifice and suffering are a part of happiness on Earth.” That sounds like the words of someone who never really suffered. I would advise you to say this to children who are being molested, to North Koreans whose government tests biological and chemical weapons on them, to young girls sold into sexual slavery etc. Somehow I doubt that for them suffering is a part of being happy.

Staying together because of a technicality doesn’t make sense. I don’t see why God would want people to stay together if all it will do is make them very unhappy.

The “no divorce” rule is extremely insensitive toward human beings, especially because it doesn’t just probhit divorce, but it prohibits remarriage by those people who, through no fault of their own, were abandoned by their spouses. It also prohibits abused women from finding a better man to marry.

I agree that sometimes divorce is wrong. For instance: abandoning your family to marry someone else because you feel like it is wrong. But staying together when you hate each other and when your children have grown up and no longer need you is just as senseless.


#20

[quote=anna1978]First of all, it depends in which country you are…Trust me in Western Europe ANY form of NFP is either unknown or highly frowned upon. I once tried to help a friend in Holland find an NFP teacher, and it wasn’t possible. The nearest one was an American lady who did it as a side-line, about a couple hundred miles away. I’d say here in Europe 95% of Catholics use contraception, and this has been supported by studies (papers here are obsessed with Catholic sex, so they ask people time and time again).

I had NEVER heard of NFP (not even during our marriage preparation course!) until we bought a computer and I hit upon a ‘devout catholic women’-message-board.

So, to say NFP is better for your marriage, I’d have to say: it quite possibly is, but in Europe it gets no press at all (not even in Catholic countries such as Spain and Portugal)…so here it won’t make much difference. In the US, if more people use it, I’m sure it IS a good thing-but I agree, it’s probably conservative Catholics using it in the first place, and they are highly unlikely to be in favour of divorce the way secular society is.

By the way, we use ‘Billings’ :thumbsup: ( an American woman from another message-board is a teacher, and is teaching me online!)

Anna x
[/quote]

I grew up in Ireland. We had a retreat when I was in 6th year of secondary school and one day was spend discussing “adult life”. NFP was discussed and we were give addresses of people who taught NFP.
My mother taught us the Billings Method . I don’t know what percentage of my classmates went on to use NFP but of the 80 or so people in my graduating class, only 2 are seperated or divorced. We are all in our mid-thirties now.

Gearoidin


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