NFP- For those struggling


#21

[quote="Maureen1125, post:19, topic:229931"]
You still havn't told me how NFP and the Rythem Method are any different. You specifically told me they were not the same, yet they have the exact same definition.

You need to chose what is best for you and for your life. I am going to do the same for me and my life.

I am sorry that Roseanne offends you. It is time to get over it and move on.

[/quote]

I thought a couple of people had explained the differences:

NFP = woman watches her own body's signs to pinpoint when she is fertile

Rhythm = woman uses other people's average and calendar to pinpoint when she is fertile (thus making it less accurate, as we know how that can vary woman to woman, month to month)

Its like the difference between a doctor telling a nurse to give the patient he hasn't seen yet, and doesn't know anything about, a dose of tamiflu (for the flu) since statistically the patient probably has the flu due to the season, and a doctor actually looking at a patient, hearing/observing his symptoms, and then basing his diagnosis/treatment on that.


#22

@lifeisbeautiful, thank you your comments are very helpful. Although, I believe, hope and pray our NFP years are behind us.

On the other hand I do want another baby. It is just that my children are so beautiful. No, I'm not biased at all. If you could give the world another Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel you would feel really guilty if you didn't.

It is amazing the vastly different treatment that NFP is given now. Compare the style of these two books that deal with the subject.

“The art of Natural Family Planning” - CCL

“Natural Family Planning reads the language of the sexual powers. In other words, NFP teaches us the meas to come to know ourselves and our spouses. In knowing ourselves and our spouses through the sexual powers, we also tough the mystery of God because these power reveal love, the most human act and the act of God. This knowledge leads us to an awe and wonder of ourselves, our spouses and God. This discovery of the mystery of ourselves, our spouses and God. This discovery of the mystery leads to authentic love, and authentic love leads to generosity. In other words, NFP can leas precisely to the knowledge that encourages us to treasure each other and God. I this way NFP builds marriages.

NFP is advertised as a positive influence and as something that builds marriages. They are obviously selling a product.

Contrast this with “The Catholic Marriage Manual” Rev. George Kelly published in 1958

First he notes

“The rhythm method [yes, I know, NFP is not the rhythm method.] is sometimes described as Catholic birth control. This description is erroneous. This method is neither sponsored nor endorsed by the Church. The Church merely permits it under specific circumstances outlined below”

He then goes into very specific details about when NFP may or may not be used. In any case, he isn't selling a product to enhance communication and build your marriage.

Later on, Rev. Kelly devotes two pages to listing the negative consequences of using NFP even when the very serious and specific reasons he outlined are used.

“The rhythm method, therefore, may tend to overemphasize physical aspects of intercourse and to repress its spiritual and emotional aspects. Another danger is that continued periods of abstinence may cause open or unconscious resentments in one or both partners”

...

“Practicing rhythm is particularly in advisable for young couples. During the early years of marriage, the emotional and physical needs for intercourse probably are at the greatest. Moreover, a young husband and wife who abstain during the “fertile” period have no way of knowing if their marriage really will be fertile. If they do not take advantage of their fertility when it is at its peak, they may discover later that they have lost their opportunity to have children.”

<-- This is something that is hardly ever mentioned anymore but is a very valid point. My wife is only 32 but if we're going to have another child it will likely mean months of expensive fertility treatments. If we had used NFP early on to build our marriage we would be childless.

I would be floored if anything like this appeared in any modern book discussing NFP. Today all you see is lovey-dovey talk about how NFP divorce proofs your marriage and helps foster communication. It is assumed that even young couples will start their marriage using NFP.

Compare that to the no nonsense approach that used to be taken. You don't want to use NFP because children are a blessing. NFP is not a product the Church is selling to you but if you absolutely have to then the Church permits it. If you are unlucky enough to have to use NFP you need to be cautious because using NFP negatively impacts your marriage. We seem to have lost that wisdom.


#23

Kostya,

Great post and lots of wisdom. You come at it from such a radically different perspective than the average person that you can see the problems in today's approach that others can't. Many NFP defenders build their entire position to address the contraceptive culture of our society and explain to them that it's better. As you point out better than I can, the risk of that is that of NOT confronting the most basic defect of that contraceptive culture: the idea that sex is for self gratification, rather than an expression of self-giving and life giving love.

Mind you, the CCL is NOT an offical voice of the catholic church. If you read authoritative voices today, you get the same great advice given in the 50's but with the science updates to boot. Try JP2 "Love and Responsibility" for an example (slow reading though!).


#24

Kostya,

I agree with you as well! In this contraceptive culture, NFP seems to be glorified a little too much (probably unintentionally by most), because of the need to persuade people out of using ABC. I'm not saying that NFP is wrong, of course, when used for very serious reasons, but I do believe that it is a little overhyped in its supposed great effects on marriage and "responsible parenting", while the beauty of large families and more trust in God is not expressed enough. That's my experience, anyway. I do think that Church teachings and documents have done a great job with this, but on more general levels in our parishes and society the emphasis seems strangely imbalanced.


#25

[quote="Maureen1125, post:7, topic:229931"]
OMGosh!!!! That last post and the smiley beating the dead horse were priceless.....Thank you for a much needed laugh.

I am sorry to say that I have no problems with ABC and I will take whatever "punishment" is coming when my time to leave this earth comes. One of my favorite lines about NFP comes from the old TV show Roseanne...The oldest daughter askes if it really works and Roseanne tells her "Go ask your brother"..the brother in question is like 6yrs old.

For those who have had success with NFP - GREAT!!! I am glad that it has worked for you. BUT, it is not your place to condemn the rest of us....only God has that right

[/quote]

Maureen,

I am sure you are a good Catholic who is trying to do what is best for her soul and the sakes of the souls entrusted to her by God, and therefore I would have to assume that you are kidding about the ABC. This is not, in fact, anyone's personal opinion. As Catholics, we believe that Christ transmits his teachings through the Church, and the Church has definitively spoken on the matter of contraception (e.g., Humanae Vitae).

I would urge you to seriously consider that being a member of a family is first and foremost a responsibility to help guide the souls entrusted to you to Heaven. God is all-loving and is willing to work with us on our journey of self-improvement here, but putting our foot down against His teachings is one of the most grievous wrongs we can commit, as it stems from stubborn pride.

May God bless you abundantly, and aid all of you in your struggles with NFP. I bet Jesus' cross didn't feel too awesome, either. Good thing he didn't let that stand in the way.

+VNV+


#26

[quote="manualman, post:5, topic:229931"]
It's not that practicing NFP is particularly helpful for your marriage in and of itself. The benefit is that if there are unhealthy problems in your relationship such that you just can't stand the 1-2 weeks of needed abstinance a month, NFP will make those problems show up SOONER rather than later. Practiced correctly, that can help if you use the early warning as an opportunity to correct what is wrong before it festers.

[/quote]

Well said! Strong marriages should be able to survive 1-2 weeks of abstinance a month. In some of the troubled relationships I see it seems like sex is the way they try to pave over deeper issues.


#27

[quote="PrayHarder, post:26, topic:229931"]
Well said! Strong marriages should be able to survive 1-2 weeks of abstinance a month. In some of the troubled relationships I see it seems like sex is the way they try to pave over deeper issues.

[/quote]

To me, this is one of the most annoying attitudes from NFP salesmen. Some people find abstinence harder than others. That fact does not necessarily indicate that there is a problem with the person's spirituality or with their marriage. How challenging one finds abstinence will vary with age and a person's physical and emotional characteristics. Also, some couples have to deal with a much longer period of abstinence than 1-2 weeks, particularly in the postpartum period. And if NFP continues to fail a couple, they will be continually finding themselves in that postpartum period. Furthermore, even when you say "1-2 weeks" there can be a big difference between 1 and 2 weeks. To me, 1 week would be a breeze. It is when my husband and I come close to the 2 or 2 1/2 week mark that I personally really start to struggle.

The ONE feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is sex! To downplay its importance or accuse someone who struggles with abstinence of spiritual or marital inferiority is disingenuous at best and heretical at worst (asceticism).


#28

[quote="Inthemountains, post:27, topic:229931"]
To me, this is one of the most annoying attitudes from NFP salesmen. Some people find abstinence harder than others. That fact does not necessarily indicate that there is a problem with the person's spirituality or with their marriage. How challenging one finds abstinence will vary with age and a person's physical and emotional characteristics. Also, some couples have to deal with a much longer period of abstinence than 1-2 weeks, particularly in the postpartum period. And if NFP continues to fail a couple, they will be continually finding themselves in that postpartum period. Furthermore, even when you say "1-2 weeks" there can be a big difference between 1 and 2 weeks. To me, 1 week would be a breeze. It is when my husband and I come close to the 2 or 2 1/2 week mark that I personally really start to struggle.

The ONE feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is sex! To downplay its importance or accuse someone who struggles with abstinence of spiritual or marital inferiority is disingenuous at best and heretical at worst (asceticism).

[/quote]

I agree with what you're saying...
This challenge, though, should motivate you to become more educated in NFP and/or find a method that may better suit your needs (maybe incorporate the fertility monitor with it as well)...
I understand there are some health issues that can make distinguishing fertility patterns challenging. What can be done to help resolve those health issues? Are they all permanent? Or would it be possible to see a specialist to help find the root cause of these issues and try to address them medically?
I know it's easy to become despondent in a challenging situation... but other paths are possible.
A "normal, healthy" fertility cycle should NOT require that much abstinence. We should be motivated to try to become as healthy as possible for this very reason...


#29

[quote="Inthemountains, post:27, topic:229931"]
The ONE feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is sex!

[/quote]

Egads! This is so false I don't know where to begin. Sex is great, but the biggest feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is the lifelong commitment to love each other as Christ loves the Church, and to be your spouse's spiritual sherpa. If you are married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to look for greater meaning your marriage than just sex! :eek:


#30

[quote="Augusta_Sans, post:29, topic:229931"]
Egads! This is so false I don't know where to begin. Sex is great, but the biggest feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is the lifelong commitment to love each other as Christ loves the Church, and to be your spouse's spiritual sherpa. If you are married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to look for greater meaning your marriage than just sex! :eek:

[/quote]

Good point...


#31

KostyaJMJ, that is now one of my all-time favorite posts on this forum. The "selling" of NFP by the Church, in many of the diocesan training programs, is flawed. I will say it is getting better. It used to be that NFP trainers never even talked about the need for a serious reason to practice NFP, that at least seems a thing of the past. But it still seems to me that it is presented as such a wonderful thing, that will help build every marriage. There have been numerous posts on this forum about people who don't practise NFP are actually irresponsible. It just can't be imagined there are marriages where couples never feel like they have a serious reason to use NFP. Perhaps the rosy picture of NFP does more harm than good. There are many, as this thread shows, that really can't see the difference in NFP and ABC, its just all legalistic, theological mindbenders to them. Perhaps couples should be told that it is stressful and difficult in many situations. It is permitted, but not advisable in many cases. Then maybe it would not be seen as just an alternative to ABC.


#32

Egads! This is so false I don't know where to begin. Sex is great, but the biggest feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is the lifelong commitment to love each other as Christ loves the Church, and to be your spouse's spiritual sherpa. If you are married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to look for greater meaning your marriage than just sex!

You missed my point, of course. Then you illustrated my point as well. Those of us who struggle with abstinence are sex-crazed, spiritually inferior individuals with inferior marriages. Sex is the distinguishing physical characteristic of married love. My point is that sex is important and those who discount that discount God's very design for marriage. Sex isn't just "nice" to have in a marriage. It symbolizes God's unitive love and it elevates our humanity to the point of being co-creators with God in bringing new life to the world. Wow! Sex is amazing! Minimizing the importance of sex or conveying the idea that by eliminating it (prolonged abstinence) will actually improve your spirituality is a form of asceticism, and that is a heresy. As with all things, there needs to be a balance.

I agree with what you're saying...
This challenge, though, should motivate you to become more educated in NFP and/or find a method that may better suit your needs (maybe incorporate the fertility monitor with it as well)...
I understand there are some health issues that can make distinguishing fertility patterns challenging. What can be done to help resolve those health issues? Are they all permanent? Or would it be possible to see a specialist to help find the root cause of these issues and try to address them medically?
I know it's easy to become despondent in a challenging situation... but other paths are possible.
A "normal, healthy" fertility cycle should NOT require that much abstinence. We should be motivated to try to become as healthy as possible for this very reason...

Em, I do appreciate your input. From reading these forums for awhile you seem to be one of the people who are quite happy with NFP. I believe that is a blessing for you and I think we need people to testify as to the benefits of NFP. However, 2 or 2 1/2 weeks of abstinence (more than half the cycle) can be expected for some couples, particularly in the postpartum period. I am the one who started this thread and in particular recommend the Marquette Method (which uses a monitor). As far as methods of NFP, I am by far happiest with Marquette and we have gained the greatest amount of documented "infertile" time to be together. NFP is still a burden, though.

My point in starting this thread is a belief that if we acknowledge the burden, it might in some way help some of us to continue persevering. It is painful to tell someone who is genuinely suffering that they are not suffering or blaming their inferiority (in this case one's spirituality or state of their marriage) for their suffering.


#33

[quote="Inthemountains, post:32, topic:229931"]

Em, I do appreciate your input. From reading these forums for awhile you seem to be one of the people who are quite happy with NFP. I believe that is a blessing for you and I think we need people to testify as to the benefits of NFP. However, 2 or 2 1/2 weeks of abstinence (more than half the cycle) can be expected for some couples, particularly in the postpartum period. I am the one who started this thread and in particular recommend the Marquette Method (which uses a monitor). As far as methods of NFP, I am by far happiest with Marquette and we have gained the greatest amount of documented "infertile" time to be together. NFP is still a burden, though.

My point in starting this thread is a belief that if we acknowledge the burden, it might in some way help some of us to continue persevering. It is painful to tell someone who is genuinely suffering that they are not suffering or blaming their inferiority (in this case one's spirituality or state of their marriage) for their suffering.

[/quote]

Yes, the postpartum period is especially challenging... I remember abstaining much more than 2 or 2 1/2 weeks even during that time. But, it's TEMPORARY. Eventually things taper out. Actually though, the more and more educated I became (I read a LOT) about postpartum fertility, the more we felt comfortable being together because I was better able to distinguish "true" fertility... (specifically, learning more and more about the cervical position sign). After having our 3rd child I was much more comfortable during that postpartum time - we rarely abstained for LONG periods... it does take practice, patience, and prayer...


#34

[quote="Inthemountains, post:32, topic:229931"]
You missed my point, of course. Then you illustrated my point as well. Those of us who struggle with abstinence are sex-crazed, spiritually inferior individuals with inferior marriages. Sex is the distinguishing physical characteristic of married love. My point is that sex is important and those who discount that discount God's very design for marriage. Sex isn't just "nice" to have in a marriage. It symbolizes God's unitive love and it elevates our humanity to the point of being co-creators with God in bringing new life to the world. Wow! Sex is amazing! Minimizing the importance of sex or conveying the idea that by eliminating it (prolonged abstinence) will actually improve your spirituality is a form of asceticism, and that is a heresy. As with all things, there needs to be a balance.

[/quote]

My heart breaks for you. If sex is the only thing that distinguishes your marriage from your friendships, of course abstinence would be more of a challenge for you than someone in a marriage with meaning beyond sex.

I agree that sex is very important, but it is not the only thing that separates my marriage from my friendships. It is just one of many things that makes my marriage transcend friendship. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps God calls for us to endure periodic abstinence in order to create an opportunity for us to explore the greater depths of our marriages? Instead of seeing the cross of periodic abstinence as being more difficult for some people than for others, perhaps you could see that cross as an opportunity to find a greater purpose in your marriage. I am confident there is a whole new layer to your marriage just waiting to be discovered. :thumbsup:


#35

[quote="Em_in_FL, post:33, topic:229931"]
Yes, the postpartum period is especially challenging... I remember abstaining much more than 2 or 2 1/2 weeks even during that time. But, it's TEMPORARY. Eventually things taper out. Actually though, the more and more educated I became (I read a LOT) about postpartum fertility, the more we felt comfortable being together because I was better able to distinguish "true" fertility... (specifically, learning more and more about the cervical position sign). After having our 3rd child I was much more comfortable during that postpartum time - we rarely abstained for LONG periods... it does take practice, patience, and prayer...

[/quote]

Em, I am sorry, but I feel that you are being a tad condescending. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you as it is easy to do in an online forum. I have been married for a long time. I have five children. I understand NFP and my body very well. I have a method of NFP now that works very well- Marquette. It doesn't change the fact that NFP is a cross in our marriage. Period. But we all have our crosses, don't we?

My heart breaks for you. If sex is the only thing that distinguishes your marriage from your friendships, of course abstinence would be more of a challenge for you than someone in a marriage with meaning beyond sex.

Ok, not a tad condescending, but totally and completely condescending and uncharitable. You don't know my marriage, my life or my circumstances. I never said that sex was the only thing that distinguishes my marriage from my friendships. Please re-read what I have written. Minimizing the role of sex in a marriage is a form of asceticism. My heart breaks for you because you must be a heretic (please understand the irony in that sentence).


#36

[quote="Inthemountains, post:35, topic:229931"]
Em, I am sorry, but I feel that you are being a tad condescending. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you as it is easy to do in an online forum. I have been married for a long time. I have five children. I understand NFP and my body very well. I have a method of NFP now that works very well- Marquette. It doesn't change the fact that NFP is a cross in our marriage. Period. But we all have our crosses, don't we?

[/quote]

Yes we do all have our own crosses...
I in no way meant that as condescending... I'm sorry if that was misunderstood. I was simply expressing what helped my own personal situation in hopes that it could provide some hope. I don't know your situation, I was just sharing my own.


#37

You say...

[quote="Inthemountains, post:35, topic:229931"]
I never said that sex was the only thing that distinguishes my marriage from my friendships.

[/quote]

But you said...

[quote="Inthemountains, post:27, topic:229931"]
The ONE feature of marital love that distinguishes it from other types of love is sex!

[/quote]

and...

[quote="Inthemountains, post:32, topic:229931"]
Sex is the distinguishing physical characteristic of married love.

[/quote]

:shrug: I genuinely hope that you can grow to see periodic abstinence as an opportunity to find greater meaning in your marriage.


#38

I see nothing wrong with feeling like it is a cross to abstain from something that is the most loving, unitive physical expression of love. That does not mean that other things are missing in someone's marriage! Theology of the Body teaches that in marriage, sex is the pinnacle of self-donative and unitive love. Yes, we can find other ways to love when we must abstain from sex periodically, but I think InTheMountains understands this and doesn't need to be pitied for valuing physical unity with her husband so much that it is a cross when she must give it up!


#39

[quote="kristleful, post:38, topic:229931"]
I see nothing wrong with feeling like it is a cross to abstain from something that is the most loving, unitive physical expression of love. That does not mean that other things are missing in someone's marriage! Theology of the Body teaches that in marriage, sex is the pinnacle of self-donative and unitive love. Yes, we can find other ways to love when we must abstain from sex periodically, but I think InTheMountains understands this and doesn't need to be pitied for valuing physical unity with her husband so much that it is a cross when she must give it up!

[/quote]

I agree that periodic abstinence is a cross to bear. I agree that it's great that InTheMountains loves sex so much she loathes abstaining. But what I'm trying to say is that a healthy marriage is more than just friends who have sex. I believe periodic abstinence can be an opportunity for spouses to find deeper meaning in their marriages. InTheMountains stubbornly refuses to see the potential for MORE in her marriage and instead of seeing the challenge of abstinence as an opportunity, she sees it as a time in which her marital love is indistinguishable from any other love. That is something to be pitied.


#40

It seems to me that InTheMountains' original way of expressing what she was trying to say about the importance of sex in marriage, was just not explained very well. She has since said that she is NOT trying to say her marriage is just a friendship with sex, so let's stop continuing to accuse her of that. And accusing her of "stubbornly refusing to see the potential for more in her marriage" is reading a lot into her heart based on your interpretations of what she originally said. She needs support and encouragement, not judgment and accusations.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.