Done with NFP????

Tonight my husband had a serious talk with me. We have been using NFP to avoid pregnancy since the birth of our 3rd child (she is now 15 months old).

He says he is done with NFP and will accept another baby whenever God sends one. As much as I loved hearing him say that, I am not ready.

I read somewhere that both husband and wife must be in agreement or they are not allowed to use NFP to avoid. I know he would not push me into having another pregnancy, but I cannot think of a fair and just way to keep abstaining if he really doesn’t want to.

What does the Church ask of me in this situation??? I just don’t feel ready and that leaves me with a lot of anxiety to take on another pregnancy at this time.

If you don’t feel comfortable, then you shouldn’t do it. You’re your own person.

Boy, it is hard. What to say?

I remember that once I was in a brilliant doctor in a Seminar about the subject and he said that a lady came with the same problem and (being a funny guy) he said her to put a jar of water beside the bed. If the husband advanced too much, she could throws the jar of water on top of him. But he was joking. But she did it and it was a mess, the bed soaked in water, the husband angry…

And he also said that some women used the trick (that he did not approve…) that if talk on dinner slipped into preliminaries, a lady would change the subject into mortgages, children and cooling subjects… and it worked…

I am sidestepping the question, I know, for I do not know an answer for it. It was hard for us too, very hard.

You wont find this in official Church teaching. Some theologians might conclude it from certain principles (that the marriage debt trumps one spouse’s desire not to conceive), but others do not.

The couple must have a good reason to abstain. I think if one of the spouses has a good reason to abstain, the other spouse ought to respect that and try to understand it. If you have a good reason, communication with your husband is the most important answer to this question, not who trumps who. If communication is unable to resolve this issue, I think you have broader problems to consider. I don’t say that to be alarmist, but to stress how important communication is.

I think you need to sit down and talk with your husband about why you want to wait before considering another child. I think both parents need to be on board with having another child. On the other hand, pregnancy is only to be avoided for grave reasons, and things like this can cause problems within a marriage. I suggest you also pray about this to see if God is asking you and your husband to have another child. If you continue to have problems, I would talk to a priest or Catholic marriage counselor.

Keep a picture of his mother right on your night stand looking right at him. Mom’s always a mood killer for men.

I have never done NFP, but sounds like it has it’s complexities.

After having been a single dad for 8 years i think wouldn’t it be great to have a problem like this.

Anyways you could slowly but surely be on the road to destruction so maybe take some time to read this -


The first paragraph is wrong; it is clearly taught in the catechism;

1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child (GS 50 § 1).

Now, I sympathize withe the OP, but she needs to explain to her husband why she wants to delay and he needs to concur. But be clear, one spouse wanting to not have a baby is not a reasonable cause to refuse the marriage debt.

Work together with your husband to resolve this difference, pray about it. If you have a good reason to delay pregnancy and your husband is a reasonable man; you should be able to work it out.

He told me the he will wait, but that he is ready the moment I am. I think he even would agree that we should keep using NFP for a while longer…he just doesn’t want to anymore.

I sort of feel like he is just deciding that because he gets horny and is not making well thought out decisions.

He says he wants to just do it and stop abstaining, yet he agrees with me that it would probably be best to wait 6-12 months, but then he keeps trying to seduce me.

OK, so it is kind of funny in an embarrassing way…I am just not sure what my moral obligation is to him and I don’t want to jump into another pregnancy. I am still nursing the last one.

If you have a serious reason…and he is in agreement with waiting (even though he would like to have another sooner) and it is not a near occasion of sin (and he concedes waiting on relations) --then one may use NFP to avoid. The couple can judge before God (and perhaps with counsel) that it is a serious reason for one of them…it need not be something that a joint serious reason.

Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI

  1. When is it moral to regulate births?


The regulation of births, which is an aspect of responsible fatherhood and motherhood, is objectively morally acceptable when it is pursued by the spouses without external pressure; when it is practiced not out of selfishness but for serious reasons; and with methods that conform to the objective criteria of morality, that is, periodic continence and use of the infertile periods.

  1. What are immoral means of birth control?


Every action - for example, direct sterilization or contraception - is intrinsically immoral which (either in anticipation of the conjugal act, in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences) proposes, as an end or as a means, to hinder procreation.

Thanks Bookcat

That is exactly what I was looking for. I think my anxiety is slowly tapering off, but I still need more time until I need emotionally and physically ready. I do not feel that it is selfish at all, but responsible to wait a little while longer.

My husband should understand this, and I will show him those quotes.

I’m glad you had the courage to raise this as it always seems to me the un-resolved issue in Catholic marriage.

My understanding is that any action to ‘avoid’ by using NFP or abstinance has to be mutual. If either party is un-happy with it then the ‘default’ has to be to be open to life. I’ve always accepted that but I’m lucky - my husband goes along with my wish to wait. If he didn’t I tell myself I would respect his wishes - but as that almost cirtainly means getting pregnant. Well let’s just say I’m glad he supports my wishes. It would be a real struggle if he didn’t.

I can also see that many men may get overtaken by the urge - because of the pressures of chaste periods of abstinance - when maybe there wives take a longer view (sure it happens the other way round as well when the biological clock ticks for some women) all I’m saying is it’s not always a rational decision.

I think you have actually emphasised my point by concluding that which is not clearly taught.

This couple is open to fertility. They already have three children and practise NFP to avoid pregnancy for now, in keeping with Church teaching (assuming they have serious reasons).

What is not clearly taught is what a couple is to do when they disagree. The Church teaches that NFP (or “the regulation of births” to be precise) may be used when a couple has serious reasons. It discusses this with regard to the couple discerning things together. It does not elaborate on what a couple does when they disagree. Thus, they must communicate and attempt to reach this decision together. What if they can’t? I think they’d need to seek council from the priest and explore this issue with him.

What you will not find taught (by the Church, as opposed to certain theologians) is that the marriage debt trumps one spouse’s serious reasons to avoid pregnancy for now. Some people infer that this is the default, but it’s not explicitly taught and there are arguments to the contrary.

It sounds as if the OPs husband does not want to abstain because he does not want to abstain.

Not being able to master one’s urges is not a good reason to force your wife to possibly conceive children she is not ready for, and that you yourself aren’t ready for.


One thing to remember is - you don’t actually have to be ready for another baby right away to be open to life. Even if you conceive tomorrow, you have 9 months to get ready for a baby. By then you would have a better sense of what to do to fit the baby into your life.

Also, I don’t know how many wonderful parents didn’t feel “ready.” I know I certainly didn’t. Obviously it’s up to you to make decisions for yourself, but please consider that embracing uncertainty can be a beautiful thing. It seems that whenever we try to control too much about our lives, we become stressed. The bottom line (in my opinion, and from my experience in my own life) is that we are not God so there is a limit to what we can control without causing ourselves undue stress. This is where the laws of the Church come in handy to help us prioritize the things we need to control vs. the things we are better off leaving up to God.

Anyway, just my thoughts.

Being open to life is different than trying for another child. You are open to life by using NFP. NFP is about the couple discussing whether or not they are ready for another baby together. It’s great that your husband is ready for another, but you should both be feeling ready before actually trying to have another. Just because one person is ready it doesn’t mean that the other feels as ready. If both do not feel ready then a discussion is needed to be able to understand each other better. Perhaps you are feeling too overwhelmed with something right now and you don’t feel up to another just yet? Maybe you are low on energy? Maybe you are concerned about finances or your schedule. It’s perfectly okay to feel that way. That just means you and your husband need to discuss what is going on to that he can find a way to alleviate some of your stresses and you both can work together to see if another child will be possible.

The purposes of marriage are 1) Children 2) mutual help offered to the spouses 3) quieting of concupiscence.

It seems to me your are denying your husband #3. #3 is a huge reason why a lot of men, especially Catholic men who are religious and could have probably been decent candidates for the seminary get married. While it is always said that men can never understand how difficult childbirth is, women will never understand how we men suffer with vehement temptations against the flesh sometimes for days. If your husband is telling you that he doesn’t want to deal with NFP anymore, that really means he is on the verge of giving in to mortal sin-- masturbation or the such.

Most men do have a problem with masturbation before they are married (believe me even religious guys) and marriage is actually a solution. That is why your spouse really does help you to get to heaven. I was told this by a priest as well. So don’t be selfish and let your husband fall into mortal sin. If you get pregnant, just trust in God. ***

It has always been taught that to refuse the “marriage debt” is a mortal sin. It is in moral theology manuals and catechisms. I am sure if you looked in the Denzinger you could find some type of statement about it.

The purposes of marriage are explained in Casti Conubii by Pope Pius XI

If NFP is used it must only be used in serious cases cases. Listen to this audio file:

I am glad I stumbled upon this thread because this is something that really needs to be addressed before marriage. I really don’t want to be in this situation some day.

Tradycja- I don’t know if this kind of thing is avoidable always. We were not well informed in our marriage prep, but we are both devout and want to live out our vocation. Disagreements still happen, and we have to find ways to work through them within the rules given by the Church.

It is not the baby that I am hesitant about. I would gladly accept a baby that God gives me. It is the pregnancy I am not ready for. I suddenly become a zombie for 9 months, and I am not a good mother to the children I have while pregnant. I don’t think it is something I can overcome or deal with differently, it is just how the hormones effect me. I want to wait until a couple of them are in school before getting pregnant. I don’t think that is a bad reason to wait, and we have even spoken to our priest.

This particular teaching isn’t making sense to me though. My husband happens to be very loving and understanding, but what if he did insist on having another baby right now. I would have to accept or else be in mortal sin?

The marriage debt can be rightly refused if it is considered an “unreasonable demand”. Does that mean one spouse wishing to postpone pregnancy (for serious reasons) can consider a request for intercourse during the fertile phase as “unreasonable”? Some will say yes, some will say no. I know of no official Church teaching that specifically clarifies this point. Any given couple would need to weigh up the issues…why one spouse wants to avoid pregnancy, whether the other spouse is in need of relations to quiet concupiscence, etc. Certainly if another pregnancy had the potential to seriously harm the mother’s healthDiscuss with your husband and your priest.

(From here on, I am expressing an opinion, not trying to imply Church teaching):

The responsibility of bringing a child into this world and caring for it is considerable (I have four, so I know something of this). For a couple who already have children, and a mother struggling (as most do) to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of a family, I think a “reasonable” couple would discuss and decide these things together. I do not think a “reasonable” spouse would insist on trying for another child against their spouses wishes. So do I think one spouse demanding the marriage debt during the fertile phase against their spouses explicit wishes is an “unreasonable demand”? I think so.

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