NFP and respecting women


#1

I know that NFP is a topic beaten to death here, but I have a concern. I am getting married soon, and my fiance and I are both virgins. So far, we have a healthy level of intimacy, and have discussed NFP and other things. We both want children. However, we don't want more children than we can afford.

NFP may never be a concern, because we don't even know that God will bless us with children. We both think 3 would be a nice number. Therefore, we may use it to conceive, not prevent pregnancy.

Also, I understand my body very well. I know my cycles. I also know when I am feeling desirous of intimacy, and that would be when I am fertile.

So here's my concern: what if we have 3 children, close together, and we're emotionally and physically tapped out? If we use NFP to prevent more, I don't get to have sex when I most want it (an issue that doesn't affect men). That puts an emotional barrier in the way of our sex life. How is that any different from the use of a condom, which is a physical barrier?

Mostly, how respectful is it to women to use NFP, which denies a woman from having sex when she would most enjoy it, if she wishes to abstain for legitimate reasons?

I don't want to be attacked. I just want to know if there are any other women out there who are as frustrated and tired of feeling guilty as I am.


#2

I'm also a virgin and not married, so I don't have any advice or explanation, but wanted to let you know I've wondered about this myself. It doesn't really seem fair, the way we are designed, though it makes perfect biological sense. So I'll be interested to hear how people respond!


#3

First off... congratulations on your upcoming wedding on kudos for staying strong in your virginity until marriage. :thumbsup:

First off... just because you feel "desirous for intimacy" during your fertile time of month doesn't mean that you can't or won't enjoy sex outside of that fertile phase. That's awfully presumptive. Sure, it may take a little extra foreplay to get you to that level, but certainly don't write it off as less desirous...

Secondly, there is a huge difference between sacrificing the gift of sexual intimacy and using a condom. This is the mentality that is totally backwards - when you assume that you'll be "emotionally blocked" from your husband - NFP is not "blocking" anything... it's SACRIFICING when you have a valid reason.

If and when that reason is TRULY VALID, it's not an emotional block - it's a gift.

Just saying "I only want 3 kids" doesn't sound very... valid... in my opinion.
Sure, you may very well have a valid reason to avoid conception after having 3 children... but it's awfully hard to *presume *that will happen on your own accord.

But... say you ARE "tapped out emotionally and physically"... if you're TRULY tapped out, your measly little "desire for intimacy" during that fertile phase won't look one bit appealing.

God bless you and your fiance! I encourage you to attend an NFP course if you'd like to learn more about it!


#4

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:3, topic:222582"]

First off... just because you feel "desirous for intimacy" during your fertile time of month doesn't mean that you can't or won't enjoy sex outside of that fertile phase. That's awfully presumptive. Sure, it may take a little extra foreplay to get you to that level, but certainly don't write it off as less desirous...

[/quote]

I wanted to add a little to this point...
This is the case for a normal, healthy woman... so this should be motivation to stay healthy, eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly... and if you notice any changes to your hormonal situation then see a doctor. Having ZERO desire outside of your fertile phase could be the signs of an underlying medical issue.


#5

Just a few random thoughts on the topic:

The goal of NFP isn't to respect any particular individual (the woman OR the man). It's respectful of the marital union. It might take you a few years of marriage before you really start to recognize the "marital union" as something greater than the sum of its parts. (It took us a few years anyway.)

I will tell you a few of my personal experiences:

(1) In my younger years (roughly ages 16 - 22) my sexual desires felt much more "urgent" than they are now. I know my cycle like the back of my hand, and I can honestly say I'm not significantly more desirous of sex when I'm ovulating than when I am not.

(2) My husband and I used contraception for awhile, and then decided to rely on NFP 100%. I am noticeably more desirous of sex now that we rely on NFP, regardless of whether I'm ovulating or not.


#6

Well, an emotional barrier doesn't render the marital act intentionally sterile, and when you do choose to engage in the marital act, even when trying to postpone pregnancy, it is still ordered to procreation and unitive, whether you are subjectively fertile or not. You haven't changed God's design. And when you say, "I don't get to have sex when I want it", I assume you mean you do not have the opportunity to give yourself fully, faithfully, fruitfully, and freely to your husband, in a renewal of your marriage vows, right?:D

I second Em's points in post #3 above. Proper exercise of responsible parenthood requires ongoing, prayerful discernment of what you are called to do as disciples, spouses, parents, and members of the community. What are the couple's responsibilities to each of these in a particular month, at a particular point in time? I don't think there is any way one can know how many children one will be called to have prior to one's wedding.

Tangentially, am I to understand that you see the male as not having a specified time when he is more desirous of intercourse due to hormone fluctuation? Isn't another way to look at that as the male is, within the specific confines of the biological context we are discussing here, "always" desirous, i.e., no hormone fluctuation? I do not necessarily see hormone fluctuation as a greater impediment to the practice of NFP for the ladies.


#7

I understand your concern regarding having more drive when you're at your most fertile. My body cycles work the same way. That doesn't necessarily mean that you will have zero drive when you're not fertile. My own experience has been that since my husband and I have started using NFP, I generally have more desire for sex all around. That's not to say that I feel like I "have to have it," all the time, just that I'm glad for the times I do get. It takes a bit of practice, though. When we first learned, it was like I always had this calendar in my mind and I was always thinking, "ok, we have 'free' time now, so we have to have sex now because we will have to abstain in so many days..." After a couple of months, the whole thing has become quite natural for us and I don't see the calendar all the time anymore. Working together, you and your future husband will be able to learn each other's bodies.

Em makes a good point about not having a "set" number of how many kids you want. I always thought I just wanted one, until the second came along. Now I'm thinking I may even want another. It will just depend on you and your husband as time goes on. You never know what God has in store for your future, so we should be open to changes. That's a big part of NFP.


#8

Pray that God will help guide you and your future husband to have the children he wants you to have. Use NFP if it is absolutely necessary.

God bless.


#9

Congratulations on the upcoming wedding!

From my experience (my wife and I have been married 11 years and have four kids) with NFP (which we had some difficulty with), I can tell you that NFP is more respectful. How so? First, let me state that my wife and I are open about when we are feeling amorous in that sense. That does not mean that we indulge ourselves every time that comes up. My considerations are that (1) hormonal contraceptives, which are carcinogenic (class 1), are out of the question; (2) condoms (and other barriers) fail sometimes, and the need to space the births are serious (four C-sections), so I won't risk even 1% that my wife will be endangered by an unintended pregnancy.

That's only talking about the practical side of things.

On the theological/moral side of things, I can see (knowing myself) that using artificial contraception would make me (whose libido far exceeds hers) take sex and my wife for granted. No longer would it be a marital act between my wife and myself through a divinely instituted act of love and possible procreation. It would be about my appetite. Now I don't mind denying my appetite from time to time, even for long periods. It's indulging it that worries me, which is when I need to exercise moderation!

If there was no need to delay childbearing at all, then there's no problem! If there is a need, however, then we have to respond to that need with careful (and prayerful) deliberation.

Now I'm speaking as a man, so this probably doesn't apply to you in the same sense. But put your fiance in my shoes and consider the implications.

You and your fiance should prayerfully discuss this and reflect on this together. Sex au Naturel is a book written by Patrick Coffin (I have it, but I haven't read it yet) that I've heard great things about. It's probably worth using in your research.

As a parting shot, if this were about food (such as Dunkin' or Krispy Kreme donuts, and I love those!), I'd say this: I have to respect my body more than my appetite. In the same way, I have to respect my wife's welfare and our marriage -- for both our sakes -- more than either of our appetites.

God bless you and your coming marriage!


#10

Hi kateriann,

Firstly, I'd say try to relax. You seem concerned about things that are some way down the road for you. Enjoy your wedding and getting to know you husband in a new wonderfully intimate way. One great thing that you will hopefully learn about sex is that emotional intimacy is far more important than physical moods. There may be times of the month you are slightly more physically desirous of sex, but that will be a less significant factor than the emotional connection. The abstinance/fertile period of NFP builds a great emotional desire to reconnect once the infertile time begins, and this is a wonderfully powerful effect!

That said, I understand your concerns because my wife sometimes expresses the same frustration - that we aren't inimate when she is most physically in the mood. But we have considered the options with regard to ABC and continue to conclude that they aren't for us. Each ABC option has its own negatives and impediments to intimacy. Considered the options for yourself and draw your own conclusions...as well as reading humanae vitae so that you have an informed understanding of the church's position on ABCs and God's design for marital intimacy.


#11

[quote="onebreadonebody, post:9, topic:222582"]
My considerations are that (1) hormonal contraceptives, which are carcinogenic (class 1), are out of the question; (2) condoms (and other barriers) fail sometimes, and the need to space the births are serious (four C-sections), so I won't risk even 1% that my wife will be endangered by an unintended pregnancy.

[/quote]

Also, hormonal contraceptives are known to reduce (or eliminate) a woman's libido.


#12

[quote="onebreadonebody, post:9, topic:222582"]
Congratulations on the upcoming wedding!

From my experience (my wife and I have been married 11 years and have four kids) with NFP (which we had some difficulty with), I can tell you that NFP is more respectful. How so? First, let me state that my wife and I are open about when we are feeling amorous in that sense. That does not mean that we indulge ourselves every time that comes up. My considerations are that (1) hormonal contraceptives, which are carcinogenic (class 1), are out of the question; (2) condoms (and other barriers) fail sometimes, and the need to space the births are serious (four C-sections), so I won't risk even 1% that my wife will be endangered by an unintended pregnancy.

That's only talking about the practical side of things.

On the theological/moral side of things, I can see (knowing myself) that using artificial contraception would make me (whose libido far exceeds hers) take sex and my wife for granted. No longer would it be a marital act between my wife and myself through a divinely instituted act of love and possible procreation. It would be about my appetite. Now I don't mind denying my appetite from time to time, even for long periods. It's indulging it that worries me, which is when I need to exercise moderation!

If there was no need to delay childbearing at all, then there's no problem! If there is a need, however, then we have to respond to that need with careful (and prayerful) deliberation.

Now I'm speaking as a man, so this probably doesn't apply to you in the same sense. But put your fiance in my shoes and consider the implications.

You and your fiance should prayerfully discuss this and reflect on this together. Sex au Naturel is a book written by Patrick Coffin (I have it, but I haven't read it yet) that I've heard great things about. It's probably worth using in your research.

As a parting shot, if this were about food (such as Dunkin' or Krispy Kreme donuts, and I love those!), I'd say this: I have to respect my body more than my appetite. In the same way, I have to respect my wife's welfare and our marriage -- for both our sakes -- more than either of our appetites.

God bless you and your coming marriage!

[/quote]

:thumbsup::thumbsup: Great to hear this from a man's point of view!


#13

Congrats on your upcoming wedding! I can't say I have a lot of experience whit NFP, as we recently got married and ended up getting pregnant right off the bat, so I haven't had to really use NFP much since being married. But we too were virgins upon marrying, so I understand that there's lots of uncertainty there.

I just want to point out one thing. NFP is not really meant to unequally yoke women vs. men. To abstain during the fertile period is also a cross bore by the husband. Your husband will not suddenly stop wanting to be intimate with you during that week or so. Actually, I've read that while a woman is fertile, she appears more attractive to men. Sure, men don't have that drive for a week like we do, but like was pointed out, it's not like during your infertile stage you won't like it. I would know. Being pregnant my libido has gone out the window. That is honestly last on my mind. My poor husband. But. Once you're into it, trust me, you'll enjoy it, and the fact that you weren't in your fertile period won't matter a bit. It may just take a bit more time to work up to that point.

And I also say don't worry about the children right now. I mean really, God takes care of what will come. It's about trust. Perhaps you're called to have 3 kids. Perhaps it'll be 5 or more, or perhaps it will be none. You don't know the plans God has for your family, and that's where trust comes in. I know that part is hard, I've been there and am there. But, children are a blessing of marriage and I've read that God provides for them in ways you wouldn't have foreseen. So trust is the most important thing.


#14

Thank you for your input. A couple of points: I am not an indulgent person. I am financially frugal, and have never been in debt. I do not overeat, or drink too much, or overindulge in anything else for that matter. I am a giving person, and would not deny my husband affection. I just want that to be reciprocal. Yes, it is about your marital unity, but the individual does matter. You should always consider your spouse's feelings and individual needs.

Second, I would not consider any form of contraception other than NFP and condoms - and please don't type replies telling me about how NFP is not contraception, because I beleive that if it is being used to delay or prevent pregnancy, it is. (I am a longstanding objector to the pill, etc.)

I can see how periods of abstinence are good for a relationship. And thank you to the poster who said that after a couple of months, it was routine. That makes me feel better.

I don't want to have to use any method to prevent pregnancy, as I want children.

But my mother had difficulty with pregnancy to the extent that she was told by her Catholic OB to not have anymore. She got a pardon for a tubal ligation, as it would have been dangerous for her to get pregnant again. The man who says his wife had 4 c-sections worries me - if she needs surgery to preserve her health, please be open to that!

I did not choose an arbitrary number of children, by the way, I am open to having more than 3. We have talked about adopting if we can't have any or many. But again, I am financially resposible. I work with children from disadvantaged homes every day, and wonder why their parents couldn't be more responsible about the number they are having.


#15

Underacloud:

Thanks especially for your thoughts. It is good to know I am not alone in what I am thinking, and that you two are making it work,

Onebreadonebody:

I just want to say - you can't take advantage of your wife without her permission. So why would use of a condom change that? This argument against condoms makes no sense to me - theoretically, if you are prayerful in all aspects of your relationship, you should be able to be prayerful about condom use, and still completely respect your wife if you did use them.

Theoretically.


#16

I just want to say - you can't take advantage of your wife without her permission.
So why would use of a condom change that?

I'm not sure what you mean. I don't recommend condoms and we don't use them. I cited that they do fail, and it would be dangerous for my wife to be pregnant again (four C-sections already).

This argument against condoms makes no sense to me - theoretically, if you are
prayerful in all aspects of your relationship, you should be able to be prayerful about
condom use, and still completely respect your wife if you did use them.

On the physiological side of things, it's not an option. Praying about it won't help the fact that condoms do fail and my wife cannot risk a fifth C-section.

On the moral/theological side of things, it isn't just condoms, but any contraceptive method. I was citing my own attitudes as a problem, where I will likely take her and the marital act for granted. It's the mentality that I can ask for the marital act whenever I want, even during her fertile period, simply because, supposedly, there's no pregnancy to worry about.

I may have misunderstood your point: could you please explain, maybe quote what I said so I know what you mean?

BTW, I did not mean to imply something wrong with indulging in something good. Sex is good, and so is food. Moderation, however, is necessary, when the situation warrants it (case by case).

-- Jeff


#17

Why must Catholics be openly dissenting from the Church and contemplating mortal sin on a public forum? ANY use of any birth control method is a mortal sin.

NFP isnt meant to be used as birth control. If you refuse to ever get pregnant you must abstain. This is pretty clear teaching. It is a mortal sin to use condoms and birth control.

I love how the OP is upset at how she cant have sex during her fertile days but DEMANDS her man possibly use condoms so that SHE can have a better sexual experience. She is saying that she only cares about using her husband for what she gets out of it when she uses that kind of language. She would lead her husband into mortal sin so she could have a better experience. Doesnt sound very loving to me or very Catholic either.

When you get married you make a vow to be open to life. When you use a condom you are basically lying to God. You vowed to Him to be open to life and now you are saying sorry, I really didnt mean that promise.


#18

[quote="kateriann, post:14, topic:222582"]
Second, I would not consider any form of contraception other than NFP and condoms - and please don't type replies telling me about how NFP is not contraception, because I beleive that if it is being used to delay or prevent pregnancy, it is. (I am a longstanding objector to the pill, etc.)

[/quote]

If you’ve already made your mind up on this matter, what is the point of this thread?

Again, I recommend reading humanae vitae (and associated discussions), so that you understand why the church considers NFP to be distinct from contraception. You may still disagree, but at least you’ll have a more informed perspective.

[quote="kateriann, post:14, topic:222582"]
But my mother had difficulty with pregnancy to the extent that she was told by her Catholic OB to not have anymore. She got a pardon for a tubal ligation, as it would have been dangerous for her to get pregnant again.

[/quote]

I’m not quite sure what you mean here. There is no such thing as a “pardon” for a tubal ligation. A priest may have told her it is OK, but he would be going against church teaching in doing so.


#19

I recommend that you and your fiancee read Holy Sex! It seems like you have some strong opinions based on zero personal experience and inaccurate Catholic teaching. Holy Sex! might get you pointed in the right direction so you can start your marital sex life off on the right foot. (My husband and I both felt like Holy Sex! gave us a little nudge in the right direction--we both agreed that we wished we had read it before we got married instead of several years in.)


#20

I recommend Sex au Naturel. I also read Humanae Vitae, but I have to say it took me years to accept what it teaches. I also have to say that the practical reasons -- medical, psychological, social -- pointing to why artificial contraception is wrong was easier (for me) to appreciate to begin with. That being said, I do not condone artificial contraception at all.


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