NFP while he is not in the reserves is going to be difficult. That means large periods of time of abstainence and then finally you get to see him and potentially your fertile while he’s around. I know even without my husband in the military, with us working opposite shifts and everything, its hard to find time to be together.
This can be very hard on a husband and on a marriage. My recommendation is to discern your reasons for avoiding. Its not just “oh we have grave reasons so we’re justified in avoiding.” Being married, I’ve learned that its weighing the consequences out. Its understanding that sex is important to a marriage. Its also important to grow in unity with each other and trust with each other. More and more I’m coming to understand that conjugal rights means that if my husband or I request sexual intimacy, I shouldn’t refuse him. That is a frightening then for how can I trust that he won’t put his short term desires for sex over my physical, emotional and mental well being? For me to be submissive to him, I have to trust that he will love me as Christ loves me. That’s hard. He’s a sinful human being. Overall, this is something that we grow in unity together. I can’t just do this by myself. This is a thing where we really have to act as one, where I have to be as concerned for his needs as much as he is concerned about my needs. Thus ideally the abstainence would come through a mutual unity, not through one person refusing the other sexually.
Overall the thing both of you need to understand is that you cannot approach NFP with a contraceptive mentality. You have to respect that children are a gift from God and an even greater fruit of the sexual union than a climax is. My husband and I had intended on waiting to get pregnant, but very quickly we mutually decided that it was more important to be together than to postpone pregnancy. Its been a tough year for us. I had a few emotional break downs during the pregnancy and financially we’re just trying to reach the end of the tunnel right now. But I look at my sweet little daughter and just feel deep within me “You are so worth it!” Because she is.
Now definitely right now I want to reach the end of this tunnel before I get pregnant again. If I got pregnant now I’d feel like "aahh when is it going to end? But I know my husband would feel the same way so we’re both motivated to abstain. Thankfully breastfeeding actually gives us a lot of go days. It can be different for different women. A lot of women also experience a reduced libido, but not me. It depends on the woman.
Ultimately something I have learned in my relationship with God is that He wants me to live in the present moment. He wants me thinking about what I am doing now, where I should go now, not what I should be doing in 5 or 10 years. I can have my own goals, but I have to be willing to be flexible and to allow God to take the reigns. He’s not going to tell me what His plans are for me in the next 5 years. He keeps me here in the present moment.
As such, I have no idea how many children God will give us and we have no plan on exactly when we’ll have the next baby. We just know its important to both our mental healths and to our baby that we are extra cautious with how we express our love sexually to one another.
And as a friend of mine told me, chastity in marriage isn’t strictly and either/or because in marriage you CAN have sex. Not every sexual expression is going to lead to a completed act of intercourse. Sometimes a crying baby interupts you. You can express your love more freely because you can change your mind and have intercourse. What you can’t do is substitute other acts in place of intercourse. You can’t make your act contraceptive. The line isn’t so clear because the expression of your love sexually is not merely kissing or making out. Its complimenting each other throughout the day, its hugging each other, its doing nice things together, sharing a sunset together, flirting with each other. When you’re dating, its simply immoral to have sex, so you set up boundaries. When you’re dating, you don’t sleep in the same bed and you avoid near occassions of sin. You refrain from giving yourselves the opportunities to have sex or to substitute other sexual practices for intercourse. But you still hold ons, watch sunsets together and express your love other ways.
The thing is, abstaining during the fertile period doesn’t mean kicking your husband out of the bedroom, refraining from seeing each other in your pjs, etc…because you both have conjugal rights. It is not immoral for one thing to lead to another and for you to have sex. Your choice to abstain is your own choice to give up sex for the sake of the family. It is sacrificing your rights and giving up something that is good.
The thing is to remember that you shouldn’t abstain unless you have to. Its like being in a State of grace and deciding to abstain from Communion. Ok, so maybe you missed the one hour fast before receiving. Maybe you’re sick and are more concerned about infecting everyone that you saw grave and justifiable reason to stay home from Mass. But NFP should not be a reason to be dismissive about the importance and benefit of sex in marriage. It should not be used to demean the sexual act into condemning our sexual urges along with our fertility. We need to see fertility as a part of our sexuality and need to see our sexuality in its fullness as a beautiful thing, something worthy of sacrifice.