Sadness over NFP misuse/misunderstanding

I am only 18, not likely to be married any time soon, but I still wanted to express my sadness over the number of topics in this sub-forum about Natural Family Planning, and the mentality that it is “required” for a good Catholic marriage.

I understand that there are good reasons for some couples to use NFP, but it seems to me that is being used as more of a “Catholic contraceptive” than anything else these days. Whenever I hear young couples talking about their marriages or future marriages, I hear about NFP. The thing is, NFP is okay for certain purposes, but it is not necessary for Catholic marriage, and in some cases it can be destructive, and maybe even sinful for couples that are healthy enough, and financially stable enough to have children.

The fact is, NFP is not supposed to be used to avoid children altogether like condoms or birth control pills. If you are using it in your marriage with a mentality of convenience rather than necessity, than you probably shouldn’t be using it!

It breaks my heart to see threads on this forum and other forums, from unhappy husbands or wives talking about how their use of NFP is making their marriage difficult or unhappy. IMO A healthy, financially stable couple has no reason to use NFP.

Natural Family Planning should not be to appease immature Catholic couples who view children as an obnoxious byproduct of sex. Men and women preparing for marriage should be preparing for children as well by anticipating the financial needs and emotional needs of bringing up children, and preparing themselves mentally for that responsibility.

To conclude this post. I firmly believe that NFP is something that should be considered only if there is a real reason to avoid conception temporarily. I also believe that abstinence serves the same purpose for shorter periods of time. Both methods require REAL reasons to use. There is something seriously morally wrong with a young, healthy financially stable couple that uses NFP as soon as they are married.

By the way, I fully understand that NFP can be used to help achieve conception as well, that’s definitely a good thing! My argument is about the preventative aspect of NFP, and how it is, in my opinion, misused.

When used correctly, NFP has a built in “do we really need to use this” monitor - it’s the abstinence part. By way of design of NFP, if a couple is TTA there is something to “give up”, and when the reasons for avoiding start to become less than necessary, the couple will realize it.

The problem occurs when the couple starts to turn to ABC instead.

Personally what bothers me is how I often see Catholic couples have to justify themselves to death over using NFP for good reasons. I’ve met people who can’t have children for a while because of medical conditions, and need to take certain strong medications to help with their treatment (such as chemo), pain, mental illnesses, etc. I’ve personally experienced severe financial hardship, along with many other people. Have you ever had to wonder how next month’s rent would be paid, and whether or not you’d get an eviction notice? Have you ever had to go hungry because you couldn’t afford to get groceries because making your bills was more important? I would also imagine that families who have a child with severe behaviors due to a mental illness would refrain from having more children because of safety issues (I have seen a child with a disability attack his parent and his sibling…not exactly a great environment for a baby, is it?).

I remember once asking about NFP if it was appropriate for use if you were under financial hardship and marital issues, and someone responded to me “that’s nothing,” and then went on to describe how they had no health insurance, their spouse was unemployed, and they had just gotten married. Wow that sounds real responsible, doesn’t it? I seriously wanted to sarcastically say “good for you! you go ahead and raise your baby on no health insurance and in poverty.”

You see, couples use NFP for a variety of responsible and well-founded reasons. Most Catholic couples don’t buy into the “child-free” movement or see children as an inconvenience; most people today understand that our times are actually tougher than our parents and want to do right by their children, just as our parents tried to do right by us. Unfortunately, NFP causes rifts between married couples because of having to extremely refrain from sex, even though the Bible says to not withhold sex from each other for a long amount of time unless it’s for prayer and fasting. And even that should be limited. Personally, I don’t think NFP has a basis in the Bible but it’s a good method that can work for some couples, and others not.


I’ll say what I always say about these threads.

Go pick on the Catholics who use Artificial Birth Control and leave the couples who are at least trying to be holy alone.

Pretty rich stuff coming from someone who, I assume :p, never worked 4 12’s at night to buy diapers for twins, much less the other 2 teenagers… Or been up all night cleaning up puke because when they start k1, everyone stays sick with the flu all school year or starting out your oldest in college, loaning him gas money, money for books because he spent his grant on a new guitar and Ipod. Sometimes mom and dad need their fun too.:wink: Just funning with you.

Respectfully, Alex, nice straw man. I cannot recall a single NFP thread where the poster advocating NFP thinks of children as an obnoxious byproduct of sex. On the contrary, in the NFP threads I recall the poster inquiring typically has either a physical or financial constraint which they specifically mention. From the limited information available in posts, it would be very difficult to make a decision as to whether the reasons advanced constitute serious reasons to postpone, and, in fact, such a decision is specifically left up to the couple through prayer and discernment.

I have always thought that was one of the tremendous benefits of NFP, that the Creator, the God of the Universe, loves us so much He made us in His image, and trusts us to be co-creators of new life with Him, through our knowledge of how our bodies work.

I think Paul’s comment is well founded. While there may be some general guiding principles, the individual factors are going to be so subjective to each couple’s specific situation that meaningful criticism is near impossible. Further, in the context of this society and the culture of death, to criticize the general use of NFP, for which the practitioners are already countercultural, makes very little sense. And, as also noted, it has its own self-correction built right in; I believe this was mentioned by JPII as a reason to promote its use.

:thumbsup: An emphatic YES to that!

To Alexander Smith: Leaving your possibility of childbearing completely in God’s hands is a great thing. What surrender! What trust! Still, NFP or no NFP I imagine we have to answer to God for all the children we did have and all the children we did not. Understanding a lady’s cycle really doesn’t hurt.

Is there an over emphasis on child prevention? I have not actually attended a class because I am not engaged yet. I imagine the classes would not lean as far in that direction as the threads you speak of.

I’m saddened someone would marry under such circumstances in the first place. Providing some sort of foundation for your spouse and your children should be one of the first considerations of any Catholic wanting to get married.

I’m not picking on anybody. There’s plenty of extremely obvious reasons for why Catholics should never use ABC methods. NFP is approved by the Church, but I see it being treated as the “Catholic Contraceptive” by many Catholic couples I’ve met and read about, and I wanted to voice my opinion on the matter.

My father is an alcoholic who has not contributed to the support of my family in years. The only reason we’re still afloat, is that we’ve received grant assistance because our house and property was severely damaged by Katrina. I’ve gone to college to be trained and certified as an electrician, but I’ve had to stop short of getting even an associates degree so I can provide for my family when our bank account reaches zero in the next 6 months.

I know your post was partly in jest, but I want it to be clear that I am not speaking as an immature jobless college student who desires nothing but electronics and cigarettes. No offense meant!

I’m not advocating that people get married and have children without regard to financial situations. Nor have I implied that NFP classes teach anything negative about having children. My point was that some couples I have met, and threads that I’ve read here, and on other websites show a lack of understanding of the proper use of NFP.

No problem. I am more familiar with your situation then you may think as my spouse works as a Human Services Specialist with DHS/FEMA and every night she has a heartfelt story to convey to me. There are some real sad situations out there and you have courage to speak on this subject in light of any challenges in your life. Myself, a cancer survivor, a vet with ptsd, bi-polar, ocd, clinical depression with 4 kids to raise as mom makes government cheese, don’t find children a choice as much of a blessing not to be taken for granted. Yes all things work out for a greater good like in your situation, but taxing a household beyond it’s capicity to offer proper care for children isn’t very christian. ABC kills that openess that those who don’t use it still have. Our method is, NTW, (not this week).:wink:

Please consider the possibility that not everyone within the church has the exact same experience and background as you do. Everyone is formed from unique upbringings and our unique understandings and abilities vary greatly.

Sounds pretty subjective, right? Yeah, maybe. But this is a very subjective area you’re diving into. Until you “walked a mile in another man’s moccasins” you don’t really know where he’s coming from.
I could never imagine being raised by a father under your circumstances, nor fully understand what you went through with Katrina. Nor could you fully understand my personal situation - none of which is pertinent - but just that it’s extremely different than yours.

Natural Family Planning, by it’s very nature, *requires *prayerful use. It encourages communication between spouses to discuss their struggles and fears in depth and in prayer together.
No one suggests it should be “required” in the least… it’s a moral tool - nothing more, nothing less.

On the surface - a simple conversation about the nitty-gritty use of NFP is not going to give you ANY insight into why a couple is choosing to use it at any given time. Even an online forum post where a husband or wife is complaining about it’s practical use - you have NO idea what the details are behind those comments… judging them from the surface is not prudent nor is it loving.

The act of NFP itself is neither moral or immoral… it’s neutral. The reasons for use cannot be judged on the surface - you simply don’t have all the information unless you are the Almighty.

With all due respect to AS, it seems to me that someone needs to read Humanae Vitae again. There is nothing in there that says that Catholic couples have any obligation to have as many children as they can financially afford. The document is very much about the desirability of married couples taking control of the reproductive process. It even affirms that couples may in fact have sex at such time and in such a manner that pregnancy is actively avoided. The need for ongoing conversation – both to determine when it is desirable to actually have sex, and how many children they might want to have – necessary on the part of both members of the marriage reinforces the freedom of the persons in enjoying their sexuality.

One simply is not allowed to do any of this using “articificial” or “unnatural” means which undermines the freedom of the individuals and thus the relationship of the couple as well.

In every generation there are those who would place an ultra strict interpretation of the law on others. Even Jesus in his time had to deal with some of them. NFP is an acceptable means of birth control and the Church allows couples a certain latitude in prayerfully discerning when they might need to use it. We ought not be placing our burdens on the backs of others about whom we know little if anything. It is true that our modern society has a tendency towards selfishness, but that dos not mean we have any business poking our noses into other folks affairs.:):thumbsup:

I’m sorry for your situation and I wish you the best in it. I hope your kids can help you out as soon as they get old enough. I’ve always told my mom that while having multiple kids at first is a drain in finances, give 'em 20 years or so, and you have a nice retirement plan. :smiley:

It sickens me to see that ABC is so universally accepted, and the fact that every single kid is taught the use of the condom as a mandatory part of sex-education. I would love it if every couple used NFP instead of ABC when it was needed to space children out, or if the finances were tight. My problem is with people who use NFP to avoid conception from the get-go despite solid financial standing.

If a person knows they’d have to use NFP as soon as they got married, than perhaps that person should consider waiting until they had a better situation. People should be responsible in that regard. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with a family NOT using NFP either.

Exactly, I haven’t either. Not one person that I can think of thought of children as a negative aspect of getting married. Catholics of marrying age should know by the time they get married that children are their “crowning glory”. My mother always dreamed of having a “big” family of at least six. Financial distress made it difficult for her to realize that dream (in addition to being married to the wrong man).

Yep, that’s why he provided a method for us to discern monthly. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have cycles. We’d be fertile all the time.

What really breaks my heart, and I’ve said this many times, is the lack of charity that one has towards another’s situation in life. Factors are indeed subjective for so many reasons. If couples are using NFP, which is a big leap of faith for many people, they are trying hard to discern carefully. They are praying over it, they’re in consult with their priest over it, they’re attempting a dialog with fellow catholics over it…so it’s not like they are disregarding the teachngs of the Church. It’s really unfair to belittle their reasons, which are serious for them, even if they are not serious to another person. When we lack this charity and understanding, it makes it harder for them to do what they believe is right and they tend to give up. This, I believe , is what makes NFP couples switch to ABCs.

Even the Church doesn’t give a list of “grave” reasons in their teaching. They leave it up to the couple to work on their reasons and their resolutions to enable them to have more children when the time is right.

I can completely understand a newly wed couple finding themselves in a situation where they have to use NFP. Most have just graduated, and living on their own for the first time can be daunting. Couple that with the economy going sour and not getting any better. I can see a couple getting married thinking that everything “would work out” and finding themselves deeply in debt and not able to have children right away. They have their whole lives. I’ve seen people being criticized for delaying pregnancy for the first year of their married lives. And I just don’t see anything wrong with that if they have good reason. I’ve seen people criticize a woman for delaying pregnancy when her last child is only 6 months old, and I just don’t see anything wrong with delaying a pregnancy so that the parents can get a handle on the new family addition. :shrug:

[quote=Alexander Smith]If a person knows they’d have to use NFP as soon as they got married, than perhaps that person should consider waiting until they had a better situation. People should be responsible in that regard. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with a family NOT using NFP either.

I was married and had my first child without health insurance. When we got married, I worked at a pizza place. I later went into the coal mines and we had a second child. Then I went to college and worked part time while my wife stayed home with the kids. We barely supported ourselves and there were hundreds of times that we worried like crazy over finances. Ten years later, we’re finally afloat financially. I finally have a “foundation”.

Should I have waited ten years (or even 4-5) to get married? I don’t regret a minute of it. God called me to love my wife and as soon as I recognized that, I married her. We took up our financial cross and did the best we could. Waiting until my human conditions were perfect would have been tantamount to ignoring God, and suggesting that people do so in general is suggesting that poor people never get married. That suggestion also consigns the majority of the world to chastity and childlessness.

Find me one… ONE… “financially stable” young married couple of childbearing age in this entire town in the present day. Have you just been living with your parents or under a rock?

It seems like you have a reason to be “sickened” :slight_smile: I personally don’t know anyone without some degree of financial hardship, or with a solid financial standing. So I can see what you’re saying. Still, if couples wait for a solid financial standing they many never have kids. It’s better to get a plan together, and maybe start a savings account for the things that pop up rather than wait until they’re fully stable :slight_smile:

I would think a family is really blessed if they can afford to not use family planning, but there are a few folks on the forum who are quite happy doing just that, and I think that’s awesome!

Never been happier. My oldest helps out, my youngest (daughter) is a spitting image of my wife and loves me dearly. Just can’t imagine changing the structure of the family right now, but you know the saying, I made plans and God laughed. 22 years with my wife and the most important thing I have learn is, adapt and overcome the situation. I see you have learned this early, so kudo’s. Not everyone knows this or should know this though. Correctly it is a “saddness” more for the state of priorities in “society” as a whole then NFP with practicing christians.

I can understand this. I live in the panhandle of the state in a 3 br cabin. We commute to NOVA for everything from work to haircuts. But we have Mountaineers A guy I knew from Misery aka Missouri, said, “if you wait until you can afford kids, then you’ll never have them.” Thankfully, we trusted and the Lord has always provided a way.

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