New convert would like advice on switching to NFP in marraige after using contraception


#1

Hi All,

I have been reading on Catholicism and attended the second half of our parish’s RCIA over the last few months and have become convinced that the Catholic Church is correct in its stance on contraception. The tricky part is while I have become convinced and changed my position on this issue rather quickly (as I said, it has only been a few months), my husband, who is a cradle catholic, has not.

When we first married we both agreed to use the pill and condoms until we were ready to have a baby. After we went through the convalidation process and I learned the teachings of the Church regarding contraception however, I am now wanting to use NFP and my husband just sees it as another form of ‘birth control’. He has asked me “we were using two forms of birth control before so we can use two forms of ‘birth control’ now”. I tried to explain that I don’t feel fullfilled when we have sex due to the use of birth control but I know there is more to it for me.

Part of the reason I was so drawn to the teaching is that using NFP involves a full gift of the self and makes you think carefully of why you are choosing to engage in sex (that it isn’t just for pleasure) and because of that you are less likely to treat it casually. In the past my husband has fallen into the pattern of complaining or joking that we don’t have sex enough which in turn makes me less likely to want to have it since I want it to mean something (such as in the total gift of self). I don’t know how to explain this part to him since it make him sound like he is only using me for pleasure (which I feel is true according to the teaching but is not intentional on his part or in his mind). By not using contraception I feel like each act would mean more to both of us.

Part of his hesitation is that he doesn’t think NFP is completely reliable and that I could get pregnant at any time even if we were trying to avoid pregnancy and I was tracking my fertility. He doesn’t want to resent becoming a father because he wasn’t ready.

Has anyone gone through a similar situation? How did it turn out? What is the best way to talk with him on this matter? He is a fairly logical science minded person but is resistant to changing his mind on this do to the “risk” of having kids before we are ready. Should I just tell him no sex until he agrees to not contracept?

Thank you for some guidance on this…


#2

Firstly, the Church does not require this in a situation such as yours. If he chooses to contracept against your wishes, you are still free to have marital relations.

Secondly, and the key reason the Church allows for this, cutting him off could be very detrimental to your marriage.

This relates to the important aspect of sex aside from procreation; that marital sex is unitive. When people have sex it tends to bond them, and this is intended by God. It is in itself (within marriage) a good thing. It’s not just about pleasure - it’s about intimacy.

I suspect you’ll have a hard time convincing your husband to change, but maybe over time he will come around. In the meantime, there is no need to put undue strain on your marriage by making any ultimatums.

I’d suggest for now that you chart your cycles, keep him informed of it all, and avoid relations while you are fertile. If he wants to use a condom during the rest if the cycle, let him know that you disagree but don’t make a big deal of it and you don’t need to mention it each and every time. Over time, hopefully he’ll become more comfortable with the process and more understanding of the teaching.


#3

There are non-religious reasons to use NFP that might appeal to your husband. In secular circles it’s often called “fertility awareness” or FAM. A good secular resource is the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

(This book led me to rethink and accept Church teaching.)


#4

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