My wife and I started using NFP again a couple months ago after using abc for the last ten years. We gave up on it ten years ago because I had such a hard time with abstinence. I read post on this forum and others, blogs and talking to other couples about NFP that “it’s the greatest thing for a marriage” “NFP makes us so much closer.” Last month was tough…but I prayed a lot and we spent a lot of time talking and going for walks and we plowed through phase 2. I found myself during that time VERY irritable…angry, depressed(I’ve had bouts of depression throughout my life) sleepless… This month I feel the same way like we’re just trudging along trying to get through. My wife feels like she’s walking on eggshells and I feel like in order to get through phase 2 I have to stay away from my wife. I just don’t get it…does this stop? What do I need to do differently to be one of those people that thinks NFP is the greatest thing since sliced bread? There is a certain amount of resentment (not sure if thats the way to put it) that I feel when my wife tries to get close but I know love making is a week away. I’ve never felt angry when my wife kissed me before…how can this be a good thing? I’ve always wanted to spend as much time with my wife as possible now I leave the house early, work late and on weekends. When we talk about how we’re feeling or try to be close it ends up in frustration and one or both of us crying (not always but sometimes). The other hang up is I fail to see NFP as “open to life” if using it as a contraceptive. Is the idea that if you’re using it as a contraceptive you’re meant to suffer or give in and have children? I’ve been the advice “pray more”…“spend time together”…“find alternate ways to show love”…I need the how…how do you move past your feelings? Does NFP get easier over time or is it a monthly struggle?
Being irritable, angry or depressed just because you can’t have sex on a given day is not normal. It almost sounds like withdrawl. Sex can be addicting - it releases endorphins that affect the brain. If you are addicted, it is going to take more than a couple of months to regain a healthy relationship with sex.
That being said, NFP is not an alternative to contraception. As long as you look at it that way, you will never "get’ it. It’s a short term alternative to long term abstinence. Depending on why you need to avoid another child, the long term prospect could be very long.
If no one (i.e. your parents) helped you grown in virtue then of course it is hard to practice virtue now. I suggest you get some books on virtue, such as the Virtue Driven Life by Fr. Groeschel.
The virtues of chastity, prudence, fortitude, purity, and respect need some serious exercise in your life. Just like physical muscles, spiritual muscles will atrophy if not utilized. Just like physical muscles, growing your spiritual muscles can be painful.
This isn’t an NFP problem. This is a virtue problem. This is a grown man who gets angry, resentful, and hostile because he isn’t having sex for a week or ten days. Wow. That is really sad when you boil it down to the essence.
Growing in holiness is what God commands of us. You have been immersed in secular sexual thoughts and ideas. You have to reprogram yourself to understand this is not normal and not God’s plan for sexuality.
What if your wife were permanently disabled? You would be called to love and care for her forever, despite her situation-- non sexually. Same in the reverse. This is called sacrifice.
I suggest reading, studying, and praying on virtue, sacrifice, and God’s call for us to be holy.
I don’t really understand this statement. NFP is not contraception.
I think once sexual intimacy has the proper place within the marriage and the couple has grown in holiness-- chastity especially-- then certainly.
Are you referring to the time period where you are not able to have any contact at all because you cannot stimulate her. I am assuming Creighton Model. This is due to starting out and not being able to differentiate being stimulated for actual fertile mucous. If you are having these issues you may want to talk to your coach and have her speed up coaching you both on differentiating that portion of the teaching so that you can be at least intimate in the husband and wife way - not anything against the Church - but not worried about messing up by kissing your wife or stimulating her intellectually.
You don’t have to answer this, but what did you do while you were dating? Wasn’t that a time of abstinence?
Honestly, it sounds as though it is the depression that is causing your issues, not natural family planning. The first thing to realize is that depression is a disease, and its not your fault or your wife’s. However, it is an insidious disease that can harm you and your relationships if not treated.
I’d encourage you to speak with your doctor about treatment and counseling options. You and your wife might consider couple’s counseling to learn ways to better handle your symptoms and relationship issues.
P.S., hope you have a happy Easter!
You know, if I were this gentleman asking this question and getting the answers some of you have given, I’d say “forget it” and chuck the whole idea. He came here and spoke of his experience, which has been real to him and is causing a problem in his marriage, and he’s treated like he’s some sort of a pervert with a sex drive he can’t control. I hope none of you are in the business of counseling people in this area, you are distinctly unhelpful and quite judgmental. This couple is trying to do the right thing, and the man is being honest.
To the OP: go talk to your priest or contact the Diocese and ask for a referral to someone with expertise in this area, or contact the Couple to Couple League for some help and support. Also try to find some live people to talk to. An internet forum isn’t the best place to get this type of advice.
Hopefully, with prayer and the proper counseling you can get this problem solved.
We’re using the sympto thermal method…our teachers were a post menopausal couple that had 6 kids and were of the “NFP makes for a close marriage” camp.Nobody warns you of any struggles… I understand that I need to grow in virtue. I know I have a lot to learn and that I’m FAR from perfect. I was talking to my wife today and I gave her this analogy…She has a wonderful gift for me and places it in an open box on the table. I can look at the gift, I can pick it up and feel the heft, I can do whatever I want with the gift except look inside to see what it is. For me it’s easier to ignore that the gift is even there. I don’t want to have to ignore my wife. I want to know how to spend time with her, to be with her, and to be intimate without sex. Maybe this is too personal but…and it’s not like I spend our entire period of abstinence angry and stomping around, I’m just having a hardewr time than it seems most others do…
You and your wife should talk seriously about what is going on. It is not going to help if you push her away - it will make it seem as if you love her less without sex.
You don’t have to answer this but one of the points in NFP is that you reassess every month, when you approach the fertile days, if there is still a good reason to postpone your next pregnancy. Assuming there is nothing life-threatening, of course. Periodic abstinence is a sacrifice but it’s a sacrifice for the greater good. The greater good isn’t to have a better marriage - that’s a side effect. The greater good is whatever is the just reason not to have another child right now. At some point, the sacrifice will not seem “worth it” compared to the blessing of another child. That’s a good thing.
See, when I read posts like this, I think, “No, they probably weren’t chaste,” because my husband and I weren’t chaste, our relationship was based on sex from very early on. We rarely saw each other without staying the night, or at least having sex and then going to our separate apartments. So there you are. You can’t stick the genie back in the bottle once you have formed your relationship on sexual intimacy. My husband is a lot like the OP, except we’re not fertile any more, but he wants sex a lot and I don’t. He gets angry, petulant, frustrated. I know I owe him the marital debt (and I don’t mind that term, unlike some of you), but I continue to feel that sex is more important than just about anything else in our lives. As in, he never gets angry or nasty if we can’t watch TV together, or go on a dinner date, it’s always the sex that sets him off.
Congratulations you have already taken a huge step from contraception to nfp. that’s a huge step towards being more open to life. To say nfp is the best thing since slice bread is exaggerating I Agree. if you succeed with avoiding pregnancy “the walking on egg shells” and other feelings should lessen and may disappear with time and experience with “successful” cycles. Keep in mind though you will always have to avoid for 10 days or so each cycle (for as long as you have just reason to avoid). That’s not going to change and in some cases can be more days than that. It’s better than total abstinence and unlike contraception its helping you stay on the right path. thats the reason you switched right and thats whats most important anyway (staying on the right path). The pp talking about learning “virtue of abstinence, chastity, prudence, fortitude, purity, and respect” I’m sure isn’t meant to be offensive these virtues aren’t taught in today’s society in fact the opposite is and often times disguised by the same words. its about understanding it from a differnt point of view (a Catholic point of view). Anyway most of us (nfp users) have had to relearn what these virtues really mean. Most of us start out with this same attitude as you but sometimes nfp changes our hearts and makes us closer to God. It takes time, a wiliness to change, and trust in God and it may require learning more about why we use nfp and why its the right path to be on.
**“Birth Control and Christian Discipleship” by John Kippley **is a short 60 pages and only $5 and is a great read on the subject.
**Nfpandmore.org **had really great info too.
Juliane you hit the nail on the head. My wife and I were 16(her) and 18(me) when we met(both virgins and neither strong in our faith). She lived an hour and a half away and her parents let me stay weekends. It didn’t take long until we weren’t virgins any longer. When we got married at 18 and 20 chastity in marriage was not something either of us considered…We conceived child #1 five months after marriage(when I couldn’t take abstinence any longer) . #2 came into the world eighteen months later. After #2 we went back to NFP…had issues and consulted our priest who suggested abc because of the problems. We took that as an opportunity to say if a priest says it’s okay it must be. Our youngest will be 10 soon and my wife doesn’t want kids so far apart…so I guess we’re done(I’d like more maybe our struggles will open that door).
I think the other responses have been quite good. Getting virtue in line is really the first order of business - and while you are working on that … you may want to check out this link to the encyclical from Pope Paul VI entitled Humanae Vitae: vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html
I hope this is helpful.
You know, there were several helpful answers. Scolding the whole thread doesn’t help anybody.
Thank you for posting this. I hope there are young couples reading this that will really appreciate the dating and courtship time for how God designed it. It really is a special time, and often very short. You’ve given us a private window to see what can happen if we make other choices. Thank you.
Pray, my dear friend. Pray with your wife. Please get on your knees together and pray for your relationship to be put into the right relationship with God. That priest was so wrong…I am so sorry. My excuse is that my husband and I were very lapsed, neither of us really considered ourselves to even be Catholics, when we met, etc. so there was no expectation that we would remain chaste. I was not a virgin since the age of 15. Had been on birth control pills since then. Sex was just part of life - expected, not ever refused. By the time I met my now-husband, I had long since trashed that gift of myself.
You two were each other’s first and only, which is very special and sacred. Even if you weren’t married, you did get married and stay married. And you are trying to do the right thing now. Pray to St. Joseph. Ask him to help you in your desire to put your sexual relationship in its right place, after the one with God.
I will add you and your wife to my prayers.
Your a slave to your passions. I think one of the reasons NFP helps a couple become closer is because sex becomes less of an uncontrolled urge that we submit to, and more of a freely chosen act of love. When you gain control of your passions and the urge you become more free. It also means a whole lot more to the other person when you commit a good act out of your own free choice and not because your were compelled to. If you commit an act of charity for instance because your compelled to do so by some ruling force, it means a lot less than if you do so out of your own freedom. If your teenager picks up their room on their own without you telling them to, it means a lot more than if you have to go up there and harass them until they finally do it.
When you gain control of your passions I think you will find you are more capable of loving your wife more completely and in a deeper way that will bring you closer together.
This. (emphasis mine)
nm should have read the rest of the thread first.
I can really sympathize with you, brother. My wife and I have used NFP for the past 15 years and have 5 children. We had 3 children before we began using NFP and realized that we needed to do the right thing in our marriage and practice our Catholic faith in honesty. Before we started, it was condoms and sex “on-demand” for both of us and I began realizing that slowly but surely, I was using my wife for sex and making her an object for my sexual appetites. Sex stopped being exciting and gratifying and started becoming an “activity” and not a total self-giving of myself to my wife. Believe me when I tell you that it can still be difficult to abstain at times for us, especially when we have enjoyed a wonderful day together or on special occasions like wedding anniversaries and want to express our love.
My advice is to stay the course and remember that anything that is worth the reward requires sacrifice. You will find in time that those feelings of frustration will subside and you will look forward to those “safe” periods and when you do come together, it will be in complete joy. Planned intimacy can actually be more exciting than spontaneous intimacy. Don’t forget that when you do come together intimately in the sexual union, you are renewing your wedding vows. You are saying that you are giving yourselves to each other FREELY and EXCLUSIVELY without conditions. You are willing to ACCEPT CHILDREN as gifts from God, if He wishes to bless you with them. Contraception says NO to all of this and denies God His right to be with you in ALL facets of your marriage since you invited Him in when you married in the Church.
As for NFP being used as contraception, I also struggled with this, but it was once explained to me that NFP is like desiring something valuable but attaining it by working hard at your job, perhaps even long hours, to be rewarded financially so you can afford to buy it, whereby contraception is like robbing a bank to get the money to afford it. Stay the course and never give up. Our Lord is walking with you and, as one poster mentioned, go to St. Joseph as your intercessor. May God Bless you and your wife.