For a newly converted Catholic family, what if wife has greater fears about NFP than does her husband?


#1

I just needed to hear some encouragement from NFP practitioners who are really experienced, and who have a happy marriage. My husband and I are both babies in the faith, and thus far, have had no need to practice NFP, because we were actually trying to get pregnant again. We are planning on taking a class soon from our Couple-to-Couple League teachers, who are said to be wonderful teachers and happily married with many children (they used NFP primarily to space babies, not to limit them). Right now, I am pregnant, and have many months before I will be beginning the actual practice of NFP. My husband is quite nonchalant about NFP compared to me, the little worrywart of the family (my priest has actually already picked up on the fact that I am a perpetually worrier :o ). I really want to trust God in this area of our marriage, and I have repeatedly found that trusting God and surrendering in my life brings joy and peace, so I know, intellectually at least, that this is gonna be OK.
Here's my greatest worry, though. My husband and I have noticed over the course of our marriage (of almost 13 years) that if we go for more than 4-5 days between ahem 'relations', then we start to feel as if there is an emotional barrier building up, brick by brick, between us. We, as a couple, thrive when our ahem relationship is quite frequent. We both tend to act more paranoid or moody when circumstance or lack of libido restricts our ability to connect intimately. But if we make it a point to squeeze in a quick tryst while the kids nap or watch a video, all is well again and we are laughing and smiling and acting like teenagers in love.
How can we deal with the fear of pregnancy when we are taking no precautions (condoms, diaphragm)? How can we maintain the connection we need to thrive when I am in my fertile time? How can I be sure that I am being careful enough to prevent another pregnancy from happening too soon when I have always gotten pregnant extremely quickly (four times) and easily, at times when we took no precautions? It seems as if my husband can just look at me with a twinkle in his eye, and I end up pregnant!
Anyway, please be kind with your responses. Understand that we are committed to following this teaching, we acknowledge the truth and beauty in all the teachings of the Catholic church, and we are intending on taking an NFP class really soon. Until then, I just need some encouragement to help alleviate my fears and stop worrying so much about what will happen after I have this baby. And like I said before, I am the worrier, my husband is much more laid back about this, even though it means having to curb his appetite, so to speak. ;)
Thanks for whatever help you all can offer. :)


#2

Married 10 years in June, happily, use and teach NFP for our diocese here. 4 kids, two bio, two adopted, have used to space and to achieve. I think it's great, great for marriage, great for communication, just great.

It's awesome that you want to trust God in this area of your life! If He's not lord of your life in all aspects of your life, who is, right? (see, Fr. Larry Richards). From my experience, God will not be outdone in generosity. PM if you want any part of our story with NFP.

1: As new converts, how much have you learned about marriage as a sacrament, and how the Church views marriage? That's for reflection, not necessarily for answer on the board.

2: Have you read Humanae Vitae, and what is your understanding of responsible parenthood?

3: If your times of several days between (cough, cough) relations are because of outside pressures, of course you may feel a barrier. If, however, your abstention is a) because you as a couple are not being called to have another child at the moment after prayerful discernment, and b) you are respecting God's design of us in His trinitarian image, male and female, you will view, hopefully, abstaining from a different perspective. If you are abstaining because you are drained from your responsibilities to your existing family, or you cannot reasonably house another child, you will see respecting God's intrinsic design and your precious gift of fertility (think about that - - God lets us co-create an immortal soul with Him, and trusts us to discern when that's right! wow) differently than how you have described it above.

Now, that does not mean that it is easy, or not work (see fellow poster manualman, who describes this really well), but as a guy, if I can look at that as laying down my life and my wants for the good of my wife and family, well, that's a challenge to true masculinity, and that's easier to accept than looking at it as merely a deprivation of (clears throat) pleasure. Not that a female couldn't see it the same way, but I'm a guy so I write from that perspective.

4: look at how you are describing the gift of a new life: "fear", "precaution". We take precautions against dangers, no? Now, I know, there are good reasons to space kids; responsible parenthood requires discernment of the couple's situation, and certainly there can be health reasons that are serious or even life-threatening. However, you may want to consider how you view the natural result of sex, and what sex means. I'm sure you know that as Catholics, we see sex as having two ends, unitive and procreative, which cannot be licitly severed by the voluntary act of the parties. We want our (ahem, ahem) coming together to reflect that full, faithful, fruitful and free love of the Trinity, and of our vows.

5: If you haven't read theology of the body/Chris West/Greg Popcak, now may be a good time.

6: During abstinence, good time to develop or enhance your couple prayer life.

7: All the artificial methods can fail, too. Properly practiced NFP is very reliable. CCL will have citations, or again, PM and I'll provide links.

It's an awesome journey, and you won't regret it!


#3

I'm not married, so I can't really relate to you, but I think I know where your coming from.

You and your husband are in my prayers!
God Bless!


#4

Read Fulton J. Sheen's "Three To Get Married".

During the TTA times, grow in intimacy - remember, sex is not intimacy. The most intimate thing you can do is to pray with your husband. Use the times to refrain from embracing to increase your prayer together.


#5

[quote="choose_to_love, post:2, topic:192932"]
Married 10 years in June, happily, use and teach NFP for our diocese here. 4 kids, two bio, two adopted, have used to space and to achieve. I think it's great, great for marriage, great for communication, just great.

1: As new converts, how much have you learned about marriage as a sacrament, and how the Church views marriage? That's for reflection, not necessarily for answer on the board.

2: Have you read Humanae Vitae, and what is your understanding of responsible parenthood?

3: If your times of several days between (cough, cough) relations are because of outside pressures, of course you may feel a barrier. If, however, your abstention is a) because you as a couple are not being called to have another child at the moment after prayerful discernment, and b) you are respecting God's design of us in His trinitarian image, male and female, you will view, hopefully, abstaining from a different perspective. If you are abstaining because you are drained from your responsibilities to your existing family, or you cannot reasonably house another child, you will see respecting God's intrinsic design and your precious gift of fertility (think about that - - God lets us co-create an immortal soul with Him, and trusts us to discern when that's right! wow) differently than how you have described it above.

4: look at how you are describing the gift of a new life: "fear", "precaution". We take precautions against dangers, no? Now, I know, there are good reasons to space kids; responsible parenthood requires discernment of the couple's situation, and certainly there can be health reasons that are serious or even life-threatening. However, you may want to consider how you view the natural result of sex, and what sex means. I'm sure you know that as Catholics, we see sex as having two ends, unitive and procreative, which cannot be licitly severed by the voluntary act of the parties. We want our (ahem, ahem) coming together to reflect that full, faithful, fruitful and free love of the Trinity, and of our vows.

5: If you haven't read theology of the body/Chris West/Greg Popcak, now may be a good time.

6: During abstinence, good time to develop or enhance your couple prayer life.

7: All the artificial methods can fail, too. Properly practiced NFP is very reliable. CCL will have citations, or again, PM and I'll provide links.

[/quote]

To #1: We have learned a lot about this actually, because since I was baptized Catholic as an infant and then never raised in the Church, my husband and I had to meet with our new priest many times to learn about the sacrament of marriage to prepare us to convalidate our marriage. We completely embraced the new teachings with much joy.
To #2: I am not sure if I have actually read the entire Humanae Vitae, but I have read many books and much here at CA and also at some Catholic education websites to learn and explore the Catholic faith. Ironically, NFP is what led me to the Catholic faith in the first place, and yet it is the only teaching with which I struggle, not with doubt, but with fear. Everything that I have read about what is IN the Humanae Vitae, I think I can understand and accept.
To #3: Your distinction here between the reasons necessitating abstinence makes so much sense to me, so thank you for pointing that out. And I do get the awesomeness of being cocreators with God, it is truly amazing. I just also realize that I cannot handle one pregnancy right after another. I need to allow each baby time to be nursed and 'babied' before dealing with nonstop pregnancy nausea and exhaustion again. Plus, my husband would appreciate not growing our family too quickly, as he is the sole provider for our growing brood!
To #4: I used the terms 'precautions' because that was our pre-Catholic mindset, something that God has been working within us on to help us overcome our wrong-thinking. God first showed me how wrong hormonal contraception was many years ago, and He has also been more recently (part of what led me to the CC) how wrong barrier methods are. This was the most recent and greatest reason we chose to join the CC, because here was being taught something that God had already been telling us in our conscience and our relationship.
To #5: Read West already, love his work. I have read his essays, many of which are online, and we were given the "Good News about..." book by our priest in prep for convalidation. Great book!
To #6: Good point. Our prayer life is practically nonexistent. We are good philosophers and terrible at prayer. We can feel God working within us, yet we have no history as a praying couple. We can talk about God and our personal prayers to God, but we do not pray much together (except for blessings over meals and in emergency situations).
To #7: We actually already have experience in this as well. My third pregnancy, which ended in an early miscarriage, was certainly the result of a barrier method failing. Needless to say, that was like whiplash, first the shock of getting pregnant, and then having such a quick miscarriage.

Thank you so much for your help in this matter. I really liked being able to explore this a little further, based upon your questions. It helped me to see this topic from the perspective of someone who has done this for so long.


#6

Kage_ar,
I almost always agree with your perspective, but I must admit this one had me scratching my head and thinking "Say what?"
Why would you say that sex is not intimacy? If sex is unitive, and therefore bringing a loving couple closer, and not just physically, how is anything less than intimate? And if it is not intimate, then why must we have sex only within marriage? In fact, the term ‘getting intimate’ is a polite way of referring to having sex.
Can you explain further why you believe sex is NOT intimacy? Because that appears, at first glance anyway, to be denying its unitive power in a relationship.


#7

[quote="Rascalking, post:3, topic:192932"]

You and your husband are in my prayers!
God Bless!

[/quote]

Thank you Rascalking.


#8

Here’s an idea. You are about to have a baby. Post partum offers a built-in break after baby arrives (congratulations, by the way). What if you and your husband see this time as a trial run? See how creative you can be at being romantic without being sexual. You may be surprized how gratifying it is to have another outlet for those warm and fuzzy feelings you have for your husband.

I almost always agree with your perspective, but I must admit this one had me scratching my head and thinking "Say what?"
Why would you say that sex is not intimacy? If sex is unitive, and therefore bringing a loving couple closer, and not just physically, how is anything less than intimate? And if it is not intimate, then why must we have sex only within marriage? In fact, the term ‘getting intimate’ is a polite way of referring to having sex.
Can you explain further why you believe sex is NOT intimacy? Because that appears, at first glance anyway, to be denying its unitive power in a relationship.

Sex can be intimate but Kage_ar is right, it isn’t intimacy itself. It is only an outward expression of intimacy. To say this is not to deny the unitive power in a relationship. Rather it is a way of saying that the unitive aspect of marriage is not limited or confined by sex.

And if it is not intimate, then why must we have sex only within marriage?

That’s not the reason sex is only for marriage. The marital act represents a total giving of one spouse to the other, a giving the exists only within marriage.

Kage_er - I hope I didn’t step on your post. :smiley:


#9

[quote="mommamaree, post:6, topic:192932"]
Kage_ar,
I almost always agree with your perspective, but I must admit this one had me scratching my head and thinking "Say what?"
Why would you say that sex is not intimacy? If sex is unitive, and therefore bringing a loving couple closer, and not just physically, how is anything less than intimate? And if it is not intimate, then why must we have sex only within marriage? In fact, the term 'getting intimate' is a polite way of referring to having sex.
Can you explain further why you believe sex is NOT intimacy? Because that appears, at first glance anyway, to be denying its unitive power in a relationship.

[/quote]

Yep, it is easy in our culture to think they are the same thing.

Add Matthew Kelly "The Seven Levels of Intimacy" to your reading list :)

One can have sex with a total stranger, one can have sex with someone they hate. One can also have sex with an intimate, loving, cherished spouse.

Sex is way better when there is intimacy. Sex can be a part if intimacy, but it is not the same thing.

If tomorrow your husband were rendered paralyzed in a car wreck and you could never have sex again, would you no longer have an intimate relationship with him? I'd hope that is not the case.


#10

[quote="Corki, post:8, topic:192932"]
Here's an idea. You are about to have a baby. Post partum offers a built-in break after baby arrives (congratulations, by the way). What if you and your husband see this time as a trial run? See how creative you can be at being romantic without being sexual. You may be surprized how gratifying it is to have another outlet for those warm and fuzzy feelings you have for your husband.

Sex can be intimate but Kage_ar is right, it isn't intimacy itself. It is only an outward expression of intimacy. To say this is not to deny the unitive power in a relationship. Rather it is a way of saying that the unitive aspect of marriage is not limited or confined by sex.

That's not the reason sex is only for marriage. The marital act represents a total giving of one spouse to the other, a giving the exists only within marriage.

[/quote]

Your idea about the postpartum period is a good one. Thanks!
I also like how you explained Kage_ar's assertion, because of how you qualified the statement. Of course, physical intimacy is not the only way a couple can be intimate, but it IS a valid way, and therefore, should not be overlooked in its importance.
Your point about the unitive/intimate aspect of sex not being the reason it is reserved for marriage is, in my opinion, overlooking the fact that it is in the giving that intimacy is established, that our bodies are physiological designed to hormonal bond with the person with whom we have sex, and that the bonding power of those hormonal releases is diminished when we have multiple partners or serial partners.

Some people can perform the acts of sex with no hint of intimate connection, and for them, it is no different from a sneeze or scratching an itch. Others experience a profound connection with their beloved. The intimacy seems to be related to both the self-giving and the fact that it is something they share only with their spouse.
I need to hear some good thoughts about maintaining that emotional connection when physical intimacy is not possible. Especially since I have begun to see that some people are suggesting that we pray instead of the lovemaking we might be doing if not for being in a fertile time. I know that a better prayer life is so so important for a married couple to work at, but really, when I want to spend time enjoying my husband, my first thought is not gonna be "Gee, I would love to sit down and pray for a while." I am going to be thinking about companionship and conversation, cuddling or shared activities, stuff like that...
Don't mistake my meaning here, prayer is important, but I don't believe that it should be necessary to spend hours praying every time we reach a fertile period of my cycle.


#11

Talk to your priest. Ask him about the intimacy of a shared prayer life.


#12

[quote="kage_ar, post:11, topic:192932"]
Talk to your priest. Ask him about the intimacy of a shared prayer life.

[/quote]

Kage_ar,
I'd like to push you a bit on this one, if you don't mind too much. I usually really appreciate your input on other people's threads, but I feel like here I am just getting the brush-off answer. Of course, we are talking with our priest. Of course, we are going to be seeking support from the local CCL teachers. Of course, we will be seeking encouragement from our Catholic friends who have practiced NFP. I am looking for help and encouragement and guidance from many trustworthy sources. I am not asking about the importance of a shared prayer life here. I totally agree that this is important, and it is something that we are working on as a couple.

What I am asking for guidance on here on this thread is specifically what couples might do in the evenings to maintain that connection when they may desire physical intimacy, but are concerned that they do not want to do things that lead to arousal, because they are in a fertile period. I am asking for advice for a specific problem, not general marital advice.
I know you have a lot to offer on marriage issues in general; I have seen your great advice and perspective on so many threads while I was still lurking. So please, what else ya got?
;)


#13

Fair warning-Kage can be a bit nuts-she’s been known to gouge out eyeballs! :wink:


#14

[quote="mommamaree, post:10, topic:192932"]
Your idea about the postpartum period is a good one. Thanks!
I also like how you explained Kage_ar's assertion, because of how you qualified the statement. Of course, physical intimacy is not the only way a couple can be intimate, but it IS a valid way, and therefore, should not be overlooked in its importance.
Your point about the unitive/intimate aspect of sex not being the reason it is reserved for marriage is, in my opinion, overlooking the fact that it is in the giving that intimacy is established, that our bodies are physiological designed to hormonal bond with the person with whom we have sex, and that the bonding power of those hormonal releases is diminished when we have multiple partners or serial partners.

Some people can perform the acts of sex with no hint of intimate connection, and for them, it is no different from a sneeze or scratching an itch. Others experience a profound connection with their beloved. The intimacy seems to be related to both the self-giving and the fact that it is something they share only with their spouse.
I need to hear some good thoughts about maintaining that emotional connection when physical intimacy is not possible. Especially since I have begun to see that some people are suggesting that we pray instead of the lovemaking we might be doing if not for being in a fertile time. I know that a better prayer life is so so important for a married couple to work at, but really, when I want to spend time enjoying my husband, my first thought is not gonna be "Gee, I would love to sit down and pray for a while." I am going to be thinking about companionship and conversation, cuddling or shared activities, stuff like that...
Don't mistake my meaning here, prayer is important, but I don't believe that it should be necessary to spend hours praying every time we reach a fertile period of my cycle.

[/quote]

I can't relate per se because my husband and I have only been married since September and we are expecting our first little one in July. We do not intend to use NFP (not because we think it's invalid, but because where we are right now we don't want to have any more space between kids than God gives us) though I do have a general idea of how to do it if we need to. That being said, I think you're really missing out on the intimacy that comes from a prayer life as a couple. I'm away from my husband 5 days a week right now for work and the thing that we miss the most is praying together. I suggest that you try praying the Liturgy of the Hours together. You could do the "little office of Mary" which is just morning prayer and evening prayer. We pray this together and it's something that really brings us closer. universalis.com/ here's one place you can get the prayers online for free or you can Google it. You can also get the book, it's called Christian Prayer, here's a link to Amazon for it: amazon.com/Christian-Prayer-Catholic-Book-Publishing/dp/0899424066

Really, add some prayers together and you will be amazed how close you feel. :)


#15

Let me see, talk, debate about books or politics or religion. When the weather is nice, we sit outside with a bottle of wine and talk, our neighbors come up and talk with us - there are wonderful conversations that can last til the wee hours.

Exercise, take long walks, go hiking, ride bikes, swim, play golf. Cook a meal together, watch a documentary about Tibet, give each other foot rubs. Play scrabble or chess, learn Mandarin together. Ballroom dancing or stamp collecting - learn to make rosaries together and send them to the troops (www.rosaryarmy.com)

What did you do when you were dating? Rediscover what first brought you together.

What would you do, like I said before, if one of you had been hurt in an accident and you would be in a body cast from the waist down for 6 months?

We are not talking about 6 months here, you are talking about a week or so each month - if you are observing the most conservative rules, maybe 10-14 days. Think of it as looking forward to a mini honey moon each month that you get to look forward too!

My husband and I used NFP to avoid for years and years because of serious health issues. We are much closer than many couples we know because of the times that we abstained.

And the prayer thing, I cannot enought reccomend the LOTH as prayer to pray together. Do you have www.divineoffice.org as a reference?


#16

[quote="Rascalking, post:13, topic:192932"]
Fair warning-Kage can be a bit nuts-she's been known to gouge out eyeballs! ;)

[/quote]

Hush blindy boy :)


#17

[quote="kage_ar, post:15, topic:192932"]
Let me see, talk, debate about books or politics or religion. When the weather is nice, we sit outside with a bottle of wine and talk, our neighbors come up and talk with us - there are wonderful conversations that can last til the wee hours.

Exercise, take long walks, go hiking, ride bikes, swim, play golf. Cook a meal together, watch a documentary about Tibet, give each other foot rubs. Play scrabble or chess, learn Mandarin together. Ballroom dancing or stamp collecting - learn to make rosaries together and send them to the troops (www.rosaryarmy.com)

What did you do when you were dating? Rediscover what first brought you together.

What would you do, like I said before, if one of you had been hurt in an accident and you would be in a body cast from the waist down for 6 months?
And the prayer thing, I cannot enought reccomend the LOTH as prayer to pray together. Do you have www.divineoffice.org as a reference?

[/quote]

Now here is what I was trying to get from NFP practitioners! This really helps me very much. My husband and I court each other all the time. We love to sit and talk about things for hours, sometimes with that bottle of wine (though not for the time being, being preggers and all!), and we love to play board games and watch our favorite movies together. These are things we have done to maintain the friendship aspect of our relationship, and we have always been each other's best friend. We had talked about the possibility that more of these things might help us to enjoy each other in ways that won't frustrate, during those fertile periods. But we didn't know for sure if that worked for couples. We also talked about trying to be more affectionate in nonsexual ways, because, let's face it, humans crave physical contact from birth until death, and we wondered if we could be affectionate during that time without frustrating each other.
About your paralysis/severe injury question...I am not sure why you are pushing me to answer that question. Marriage is a sacrament, and is meant for life. If we must face that trial, then we will, and with God's help, we will find other ways of connecting and meeting each other's needs. Obviously, since we have been married for almost 13 years, we already are demonstrating our intention to honor our vows. And quite frankly, I cannot imagine life without my husband. So anyway, I don't want to dwell upon scary hypothetical scenarios, especially since if one of us was paralyzed, I don't think our immediate focus would be upon what the paralyzed/injured spouse is not able to give physically (it seems kind of cruel, heaping insult to injury).
Anyway, thanks for the more concrete ideas you offered. This was really the kind of encouragement that I needed. Like I said before, we are babies in the Catholic faith. But we actually grew up in church together and fell in love at the tender age of 17, going on 18. We are making prayer and our spiritual life a greater focus now, thanks to the beauty and the truth we have found in Catholic teaching. We needed no extra encouragement in the prayer area, we see its importance. We just needed some more concrete ideas about what really works for other couples to enjoy each other during fertile periods.:D


#18

Congratulations on your pregnancy. Treasure this time while you are expecting your first baby. I look back with fondness upon that time when I was pregnant with my first baby. Now I am preparing to welcome my third, and have found that I can’t help but recall with happiness all the joys of my first.:slight_smile:


#19

My husband and I have been married 7 1/2 years. We had 7 pregnancies resulting in 4 kids and 1 on the way. One would think that with all this, we would have never had a chance to abstain, but there have been several spans of months where it was necessary.
We use NFP for both spacing pregnancies and for pregnancy achievement. During our periods of abstinence, it often feels like the way it did before we were married except we don’t have to wait as long. There had been times when I felt resentment about the fact that we had to wait, but through prayer I have learned to deal with it better.
One of our favorite jokes is “you can’t get pregnant again if you are already pregnant”. Each new child brings a unique joy to our lives that we can’t imagine our lives without that person. I guess we just feel that if we ever “mess up” so to speak, that it must be due to a bigger plan that God has for our lives.


#20

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