Sometimes it seems like NFP is part of the problem

Or at least the way it may be being presented to engaged couples in marriage prep programs.

When reading CAF threads by married couples, I am struck more and more by many threads that all go basically something like this:

[LIST=1]
*]My husband/wife and I have been practicing NFP but now we’re expecting another child in only x number of years.
*]We don’t want to use contraception but we don’t know what to do OR we are considering using contraception even though we know it’s wrong
*]In short, we didn’t bargain for this!
[/LIST]

To which I’m tempted to say, yes, you did bargain for this when you got married. But I have sympathy for their distress, too, don’t get me wrong.

I know it’s hard having several children close together. And very difficult if there are health concerns for mother or child, or serious financial concerns (not just “we won’t be able to afford that Lexus now” first-world problems).

I’m almost wondering, though, if in marriage prep programs couples are being given the NFP instruction as “Catholic birth control” because the Church feels backed into a corner by couples who threaten to use contraception. And probably a lot of them go to marriage prep and roll their eyes at the NFP materials because they’ve already made up their minds that they will use artificial contraception no matter what.

I propose the following - it’s going to sound crazy, but at least follow what I’m saying please, before dismissing it as absurd:

[LIST]
*]Give couples a brief overview of NFP and a contact for classes and let it be up to them to pursue if and when a genuine need arises.
*]Emphasize more that it should be used when needed and for serious reasons. This way it won’t be taken for granted as de rigeur, and then be a source of disappointment when it “fails” to function as “Catholic birth control” and a pregnancy occurs.
*]Without falling into the trap of saying that a couple must have a huge family, somehow get across the idea that God may have in mind a larger family than they think they want, and that if this is a dealbreaker, maybe they should take more time discerning whether to get married, or at least postpone getting married until they are sure they can be okay with this.
[/LIST]

Your thoughts?

I know it’s hard to have several children. And if I remember it right, there are occasional NFP classes offered here in my Archdiocese. Maybe that could be held more often, or given to the couple during their engagement. But my biggest concern are those men who don’t care what day of the month it is. It’s like there are many of them out there (I’m not going to say all) who want sex full time. :frowning: They really need to respect their wives and learn some self control.

Yeah, sometimes we forget that we did say “…for worse”, “…for poorer”, and “…in sickness”. :stuck_out_tongue: “But Lord, we didn’t know that’s what that could mean!” :o

I think it is good to emphasize the openness to life and not treating NFP solely as a means of avoiding children. My NFP class did that and all those I know who teach NFP do that.

I would be very hesitant about withholding info about the nuts and bolts of NFP from marriage prep, though. It’s difficult enough to get many Catholics to go through the class in the first place. Making it optional would simply mean that most would not go to the classes, they would continue in their misconceptions of what NFP is, and they’d just stick with contraception.

Golden! I’m going to steal this, it is a great explanation of what being open to life in marriage is all about!
:thumbsup:

You don’t even have to steal it - take it with my blessings! :slight_smile: May it bear fruit in the world, in more ways than one.

Maybe what would be helpful would be for engaged couples to be required to read the posts here on CAF! Or other stories of couples who actually have to confront the “in sickness and health, for richer or poorer” in a nitty-gritty way. Because I really do think a lot of people entering into marriage must be totally clueless. And probably some of them close their minds to what the Church is trying to teach them because it’s not what all the cool people are doing. A lack of maturity - and sometimes only experience does bring maturity, but if young people are too unprepared to grapple with the difficult issues, sometimes they turn bitter and stubborn. :dts::dts: Again, it’s sad.

I do think that NFP is part of the problem. How many Catholic families in the last 20 years have more than 6 kids? NFP is promoted frequently, though not all the time, as a way to “space” kids. It has only been since the 1960’s that NFP has been mainstreamed. The Church has always taught that the purpose of marriage is FIRST to have kids in order to “populate” heaven, secondary is the couple. That’s why we make the vow of “for better or worse” because true love involves self sacrifice for the benefit of the spouse. Our duty as married couples, God willing, is to have children at the rate God desires. Abuse of NFP is not trusting God and doing what we think is best for our family.

Don’t get me wrong, if there’s real financial, health, or other reasons that’s agreed upon between the couple and their priest to postpone having children, then I understand the use of it.

Before I get run down with comments, I do have 5 children 8 and under and will have more (God willing), and I also had a marriage class given by the local parish which gave us education on NFP. Not once did they mention that we should discuss NFP with a priest. NFP was promoted as approved by the Church as an alternative to contraception in its purposes (keep the family size within reason).

Go to a traditional parish with large families and you will see a majority of happy families, long confession lines, and many younger people attending daily mass. Traditional Catholic families are not perfect, of course, but I have found them to be fighting more for the cause of the Church, rather than for the cause of their own desires.

God bless!

From what I see frequently in the Family Life forum, it seems there are many couples for whom a false expectation has been given. Namely, that NFP will function like birth control, yet still allow them to remain faithful Catholics. Then when it “fails” (that right there is a red-flag word, IMO), they are often tempted to use birth control that “really works.” Which is usually an abortifacient Pill or IUD. :frowning: Sure, it “works” in the sense that you are never aware of conception, but oh, the can of moral worms it opens . . .

There is no reason to bring in a priest to help decide if a couple has a good enough reason to use NFP. Sorry, but I see no reason to have to go into my medical history with my pastor. It just isn’t any of his business.

Go to a traditional parish with large families and you will see a majority of happy families, long confession lines, and many younger people attending daily mass. Traditional Catholic families are not perfect, of course, but I have found them to be fighting more for the cause of the Church, rather than for the cause of their own desires.

God bless!

Or come to our parish. No EF, but many, many families with 6 or more children. We also have long lines at the Confessional and many young people attending daily Mass.

I have to say, if I got pregnant, I would feel like like I had failed. :shrug: I would feel like I should have been more careful or something. I honestly don’t know what I would do after that. Except of course be on bed rest for months. I am sure my husband would be seriously thinking about other options.

And this is the really sad thing: NFP is supposed to be between the two spouses, and yet the contraceptive mentality slithers in and it’s still the wife’s fault :frowning:

ETA: maybe they should make clear in the pre-Cana meetings that marriage is not about being able to have sex whenever you want, but that even that sacrifice may be called for.

You think? :rolleyes:

I feel bad that you have this lack of trust with your pastor. Isn’t that what the priest is there for? Spiritual direction, which in this case it would be. Using NFP for the wrong reasons could be a serious sin. I hope none of us have to feel this helplessness when it comes to receiving direction when our soul is involved.

Again, I sympathize with your position. Keep praying! God gives us spouses to help us get to Heaven, even if we don’t see how that’s possible at times.

God bless

I didn’t say that my husband would blame me. Far from it. I said I would feel like I had messed up. BIG difference.

It has nothing to do with trust. Just that my medical conditions and medications are my business.

To claim that everyone that uses NFP should talk to their pastor seems extreme. God gave me a brain. I know how to use it.

If you have a question about whether you have a valid reason or not, then go to your pastor. But I don’t have any questions.:shrug:

No, I understood what you meant–I just wasn’t clear :o

It has nothing to do with trust. Just that my medical conditions and medications are my business.

To claim that everyone that uses NFP should talk to their pastor seems extreme. God gave me a brain. I know how to use it.

If you have a question about whether you have a valid reason or not, then go to your pastor. But I don’t have any questions.:shrug:

I think we actually have to sell the bigger picture here. We make it hard for ourselves when we are trying to follow Catholic rules, but are unwittingly trapped by society’s measure of what makes happiness and success in life. It’s a huge leap of faith to recognise the impact of this duality and choose a counter cultural worldview altogether.

It’s an art to balance the plans you make for your own life, with the plans God has for you and it really requires wanting God’s way, trusting the Holy Spirits divine guidance through the Church and being open to the unexpected highs and lows that are inevitable in taking the narrow road to heaven. Otherwise we live a Catholic facade on an endless search for loopholes in the Catholic ‘rule book’ so we can still keep control of our own worldly plans.

It’s crazy because people have a deep longing to ‘get back to nature’ and work along with it because they know that by choosing selfish wants over natures health, impacts on the eco system in far reaching and devastating ways. Yet they are blind to the nature of their own bodies and the delicate relationship between moderating our selfish wants with respecting the natural cycles. They say they are prepared to sacrifice some measure industry and progress in order to respect the environment, but don’t think of affording that same respect to their own bodies.

There’s a long winded rant, but surely given the big picture, natural family planning in tune with the bodies cycle makes as much but even more sense than conforming societies wants and desires to the natural cycles of the environment?

Exactly my thoughts when starting this thread! :thumbsup: And more succinctly put. Good job.

About water pollution with the estrogen from birth control pills - livescience.com/20532-birth-control-water-pollution.html

So much of the worlds focus and resources are diverted in tackling these ‘genie out of the bottle’ problems and huge bodies of experts too scared or suppressed by the ‘rights’ movements to call a spade a spade. The hole in the ozone layer won’t be a worry if life at the ground level already poisoned. :eek:

PS. I like your little “I’m a girl” note. I should do that too. I’ve been mistaken for male a couple of times!

There is no reason to bring in a priest to help decide if a couple has a good enough reason to use NFP. Sorry, but I see no reason to have to go into my medical history with my pastor. It just isn’t any of his business.

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Yes. The decision should be between the couple and God, not the couple and their pastor. I think the addition is made by people who don’t really trust the laity to made decisions on their own. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a priest suggest doing this.

NFP actually DOES function like artificial forms of birth control in that sense, since people tend not to use any method optimally, most all of them fail surprisingly often.

Yet somehow people buy more into the myth of infallible effectiveness with the artificial methods, or perhaps use more than one method at a time for extra safety, which could also be achieved by a more conservative use of NFP. :shrug:

There isn’t a lot of motivation to post “We are using NFP and it’s going well.”

what’s the point in that?

Having problems/finding solutions is part of the reason most people make a thread…

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