Waiting until marriage, but is that enough?


#1

Hey, first thread I've ever posted, so bear with me. :p I'll learn how to shorten my thoughts as I go along.

I am in a fairly serious relationship - both of us are practicing Catholics and have done a top-rate job of saving the gift of sex until marriage. Now, while I'm not yet financially ready to support two and therefore am waiting to propose, we have discussed marriage and having children. Now, she and I want to get married as soon as I can support a family AND as soon as we are absolutely sure it's God's will that we share in that sacrament - we're both pretty sure as it is, but both our extended families have been seriously compromised by divorce in the past and, naturally, we want to avoid that.

Anyway, where my question begins is that both of us agree that we shouldn't try for kids for a while after getting married, a couple years at least. The reasons range from financial to wanting some time to enjoy our young years before becoming parents. In any case, we are quite intent on having kids, but not for a while. This is how my parents did it - they waited ten years before having my brother and sister and me (triplets, as a matter of fact :) ) and unless I am mistaken the "rule" is that as long as one goes into marriage woith the intent of bringing a new life into the world, you're all clear.

Here is my concern. We have waited for sex until the day we get married, and I am infinitely grateful we made that decision. However, must we also wait until we are totally prepared to have children to consummate our marriage? I know next to nothing about NFP, though my priest and deacon have said that it is the means by which a Catholic may plan to either achieve OR AVOID pregnancy. Is that right? If we were to get married and then use NFP for a few years in order to delay having children, would there be any spiritual fault in that?

It seems like the obvious answer is to simply refrain from sexual relations for a few more years. Make no mistake, though, as a vigorous young male individual, I am going to want very badly to have sex with my wife, and she has stated as much herself (not the strapping young male part :p ). I am not sure if this is selfish, though, on either of our parts. It sure sounds selfish! Still, if that were the case, it seems like the proper course would simply be to wait to get married at all until you were ready to try for children the moment your wedding night arrived... but that doesn't seem right, either!

So, to sum up my question, if we have waited until marriage to give ourselves to each other, and we get married, would the consummation of our marriage before we were ready to actually have children - and the use of NFP to lessen the chances of pregnancy - be sinful?

I hope that wasn't too long. It's been troubling me for some time, and even if there's no clear-cut answer I am grateful for any advice in the matter.

Bless you all, and pray for us. :)

Jon-Carl


#2

Since you have a just reason, you can simply use NFP until you are ready to have children. It’s perfectly fine for couples who aren’t yet ready for children to marry and use NFP until they become ready.

With perfect use NFP is nearly as good as the pill.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221065200.htm


#3

There is a word for young married couples who use NFP to delay children.

The word is parents.


#4

you and your girlfriend should take a class on NFP and your girlfriend should start charting so that when you do get married you know what your doing. i personally recommend the “sympto-thermal method”. but definitely learn how to use NFP BEFORE marriage. don’t be like me i just learned it and I’ve been married 4 years. (although we just didn’t care if we got pregnant or not, we were totally open…now not so much. because we had 3 kids in 3 years and limited funds)

have fun during this period of discernment!


#5

[quote="mamabear3, post:4, topic:187073"]
you and your girlfriend should take a class on NFP and your girlfriend should start charting so that when you do get married you know what your doing. i personally recommend the "sympto-thermal method". but definitely learn how to use NFP BEFORE marriage. don't be like me i just learned it and I've been married 4 years. (although we just didn't care if we got pregnant or not, we were totally open...now not so much. because we had 3 kids in 3 years and limited funds)

have fun during this period of discernment!

[/quote]

I agree with learning before marriage! I do believe that there are websites that will help with charting?

This may be useful though I'm not 100% sure:
contracept.org/nfpchart.php


#6

To echo the previous posters, yes, you can use NFP to successfully postpone pregnancy in marriage for serious reasons. NFP has been shown to be just as (if not more) effective as condoms in actual use when the couple is educated on the method and willing to follow the rules. (See jabfm.org/cgi/content/abstract/22/2/147).

My husband and I have been using NFP to postpone pregnancy for the past year and a half, and will be switching over to trying to conceive in a few (short) months. It's a great way to remain close to your spouse when, after prayerful discernment, you know the time for children has not yet come. Keep in mind, however, that you must be continuously prayerful and open to the possibility that the conditions you perceived as serious have changed. This is all part of being open to children, and, more broadly, open to God's will.

I began to use the Couple to Couple League home study course a few months before the wedding to have at least three full charts supplying data. You might want to visit the Couple to Couple League's website to learn more. (ccli.org)

EDIT: To answer Flamingo's question, yes, there are many online tools for charting. Among the most popular are myfertilitycharts.com and www.fertilityfriend.com. But these are only useful if you already know the method and are looking for a place to put your data online (along with a second opinion). The couple to couple league also has software (although, I believe it is mot mac compatible). Finally, there is Taking Charge of Your Fertility (tcoyf.com) which is an excellent resource for .pdf charts and for understanding the science of the method (there are also forums for more technical questions about charting). Be aware, however, that this site (among others) promotes the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) which is a secular version of NFP not grounded in the Church's teachings. Couple to Couple League, Creighton, and Billings all promote NFP, not FAM.


#7

Ask yourselves what happens if you become pregnant? Right away, even?

How will you react? Will you lovingly accept the child God sends your way, even if the timing seems all “wrong” to you?

If you can answer that although it might take some adjustment, you will be able to lovingly accept such a child at any time, it seems to me you are ready to accept the responsibilities of marriage.

My husband and I waited until marriage, but I can tell you I personally could not have waited any time AFTER marriage. Not because I am some sort of sex-addicted fiend :eek:, but because I needed to feel our marriage had been consummated and that we were truly one flesh.

I didn’t particularly want to get pregnant (I probably could have been fine as a childless woman, to be quite honest), but I was open the idea. We didn’t try to avoid pregnancy, and I did not get pregnant for almost a year.

I also recommend learning NFP before marriage if you have serious reasons to avoid for a while.

I personally am thankful we did get pregnant early in our marriage, though, because motherhood was a difficult adjustment for me, and I think it would have been even harder if we had waited years into our marriage. Childless existence just felt too “natural” to me!

Six children later, I can honestly say I can’t imagine my life without any of them. They have enriched our lives and kept me from becoming totally self-absorbed and introspective.

Btw, I too come from a divorced family. In my mind, it was a blessing in many ways (which flies in the face of conventional wisdom!). I watched, I learned, and by the time I married at 21, I had a whole lists of mistakes I was determined NOT to make.

18 years later, we are still very much in love and have the marriage I always dreamed of.


#8

I think you need to have good reasons to use NFP though, for example someone might want to space out their kids a bit (my wife and I used it to space out ours 20 months), or perhaps they can’t afford a child at the time, no insurance, etc- but I don’t think NFP is supposed to be used just because the parents want to “have fun” for a good 10 years after they get married. The problem with that is the attitude behind it seeing children as burdens and fun killers that need to be delayed. It’s the whole contraceptive mentality thing.


#9

Have you considered that maybe you shouldn’t get married until you are ready for the possibility of having a child? Sure, NFP might be acceptable in your situation, but there will still be a possibility of your wife becoming pregnant. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you wait to get married until you want children, but you are ready for the possibility of children.


#10

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]
Hey, first thread I've ever posted, so bear with me. :p I'll learn how to shorten my thoughts as I go along.

I am in a fairly serious relationship - both of us are practicing Catholics and have done a top-rate job of saving the gift of sex until marriage. Now, while I'm not yet financially ready to support two and therefore am waiting to propose, we have discussed marriage and having children. Now, she and I want to get married as soon as I can support a family AND as soon as we are absolutely sure it's God's will that we share in that sacrament - we're both pretty sure as it is, but both our extended families have been seriously compromised by divorce in the past and, naturally, we want to avoid that.

Anyway, where my question begins is that both of us agree that we shouldn't try for kids for a while after getting married, a couple years at least. The reasons range from financial to wanting some time to enjoy our young years before becoming parents. In any case, we are quite intent on having kids, but not for a while. This is how my parents did it - they waited ten years before having my brother and sister and me (triplets, as a matter of fact :) ) and unless I am mistaken the "rule" is that as long as one goes into marriage woith the intent of bringing a new life into the world, you're all clear.

Here is my concern. We have waited for sex until the day we get married, and I am infinitely grateful we made that decision. However, must we also wait until we are totally prepared to have children to consummate our marriage? I know next to nothing about NFP, though my priest and deacon have said that it is the means by which a Catholic may plan to either achieve OR AVOID pregnancy. Is that right? If we were to get married and then use NFP for a few years in order to delay having children, would there be any spiritual fault in that?

It seems like the obvious answer is to simply refrain from sexual relations for a few more years. Make no mistake, though, as a vigorous young male individual, I am going to want very badly to have sex with my wife, and she has stated as much herself (not the strapping young male part :p ). I am not sure if this is selfish, though, on either of our parts. It sure sounds selfish! Still, if that were the case, it seems like the proper course would simply be to wait to get married at all until you were ready to try for children the moment your wedding night arrived... but that doesn't seem right, either!

So, to sum up my question, if we have waited until marriage to give ourselves to each other, and we get married, would the consummation of our marriage before we were ready to actually have children - and the use of NFP to lessen the chances of pregnancy - be sinful?

I hope that wasn't too long. It's been troubling me for some time, and even if there's no clear-cut answer I am grateful for any advice in the matter.

Bless you all, and pray for us. :)

Jon-Carl

[/quote]

Greetings and Welcome to CAF! Lots of answers here for all your questions. Just remember that not all that post here are Catholic.

You may use NFP ANYTIME. You may use it, also, to reduce the chances of pregnancy... Let me explain.
NFP is not Catholic Contraception, although many think it is synonymous. NFP is a collection of methods to determine probable fertility of the woman. Different ones work more reliably for some than others. Some use it to aid in getting pregnant, too. But most forget that. The biggest thing is that it's virtually free and very natural.

I highly recommend it over ABC because it aids in the understanding of the significance of the marital embrace. Always a good thing!

If you haven't read Popcak's "Holy Sex" or West's "The Good News About Sex and Marriage" I highly suggest you and your fiance do. It will help you understand the significance of the marital embrace for your relationship. Popcak has some other really great books on relationships, too. Read, read and read some more. Good Catholic teaching does not come only from Homilies.

Consummation... need not happen on your wedding night. It did not on mine.

Now about putting off kids. Yes, indeed, being responsible for the well being of your family is important and the CCC will tell you that you (the couple) are responsible for discerning if you should try to conceive or not every month. So it's not "We'll get pregnant when we have 'enough' money or in two years." General planning like that isn't bad, but remember that MONTHLY you two should discuss and pray about it.

We have a tendency to think ourselves out of things. You may never have enough money, or enough stability as you desire or think you need to have children. Waiting too long and next thing you know your are retiring with kids still in middle school! Part of marriage is to trust in God that He will provide for you.

Oh, BTW, NFP practicing couples have a near zero divorce rate. Whereas the Catholic's using ABC have about the same divorce rate as non-Catholics. Why might be explained by what sex means to an ABC couple vs. an NFP couple. Read one of the two books I mentioned and I think you will understand why.

NFP methods are good and reliable. BTW, there was a post a while back about the reason to use NFP is because it doesn't work all the time. I found it humorous and It's kinda true. For one person, it might be a 5 day fertile period and for others it might be 6. Experience is the best teacher for NFP. We don't recommend people learning NFP AFTER they have already had all the kids they want.

You have a lot of good questions. Those TOB books will answer many of them. A good book on NFP or even better, classes will answer even more. Listening to God will answer the rest.


#11

[quote="Magickman, post:3, topic:187073"]
There is a word for young married couples who use NFP to delay children.

The word is parents.

[/quote]

Spoken like someone who knows nothing about NFP.


#12

[quote="Magickman, post:3, topic:187073"]
There is a word for young married couples who use NFP to delay children.

The word is parents.

[/quote]

LOL!

Dude, this was very funny.

No, I don't agree with what you said, but it was really funny.


#13

Jon-Carl,

You might check into the Couple to Couple league for NFP guidance:

ccli.org/


#14

The original joke was “Do you know what they call a couple that uses the Rhythm Method? - Parents.” NFP is far more reliable than the old Rhythm method since periods are not always regular nor are they the same for everyone. Today’s NFP methods take into account those variables.

Technically, the goal for EVERY married couple is exactly that… to become parents. Otherwise you won’t be married. Somehow folks, today, forget that.

To address infertility or age situations… we are called to be “parents” in other ways such as social work or adoption. See “Follow Me, Boys” for an example.


#15

Nah it’s an old tired joke that goes back to the sixties.


#16

Hello and welcome to the forums! You've gotten some good responses already, I just wanted to offer my own advice/observations on a couple points

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]

I know next to nothing about NFP, though my priest and deacon have said that it is the means by which a Catholic may plan to either achieve OR AVOID pregnancy. Is that right?

[/quote]

Since you mention that you know "next to nothing" about NFP, a quick primer is in order. Essentially, a woman is fertile only at certain times during her monthly cycle. NFP teaches a couple to monitor and understand the bodily changes that accompany the fertile period of the cycle. If you are trying to avoid preganancy, you do not have intercourse during the fertile period. If you are trying to conceive, you have intercourse during the fertile period.

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]

It seems like the obvious answer is to simply refrain from sexual relations for a few more years.

[/quote]

This strikes me as a very bad idea. A healthy sexual relationship is an important part of a happy marriage. The Church teaches that sexual intimacy in marriage serves both a unitative and a procreative purpose - both are important. Delaying sexual relations for years after marriage seems like a formula for a lot of frustration and resentment.

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]

If we were to get married and then use NFP for a few years in order to delay having children, would there be any spiritual fault in that?

[/quote]

As others have pointed out, couples may use NFP to determine the number and spacing of their children "for a just reason." People have a lot of different opinions about what consitutes a "just reason" but to me it seems to be very broad. You are in a better position than anyone else on this board to evaluate the reasons you and your future wife would have for delaying children, and determining whether they are "good enough."


#17

[quote="Thomas63116, post:16, topic:187073"]
Hello and welcome to the forums! You've gotten some good responses already, I just wanted to offer my own advice/observations on a couple points

Since you mention that you know "next to nothing" about NFP, a quick primer is in order. Essentially, a woman is fertile only at certain times during her monthly cycle. NFP teaches a couple to monitor and understand the bodily changes that accompany the fertile period of the cycle. If you are trying to avoid preganancy, you do not have intercourse during the fertile period. If you are trying to conceive, you have intercourse during the fertile period.

This strikes me as a very bad idea. A healthy sexual relationship is an important part of a happy marriage. The Church teaches that sexual intimacy in marriage serves both a unitative and a procreative purpose - both are important. Delaying sexual relations for years after marriage seems like a formula for a lot of frustration and resentment.

As others have pointed out, couples may use NFP to determine the number and spacing of their children "for a just reason." People have a lot of different opinions about what consitutes a "just reason" but to me it seems to be very broad. You are in a better position than anyone else on this board to evaluate the reasons you and your future wife would have for delaying children, and determining whether they are "good enough."

[/quote]

Good explaination :thumbsup:


#18

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]
Now, she and I want to get married as soon as I can support a family AND as soon as we are absolutely sure it's God's will that we share in that sacrament

[/quote]

[quote="joncarl, post:1, topic:187073"]
Anyway, where my question begins is that both of us agree that we shouldn't try for kids for a while after getting married, a couple years at least. The reasons range from financial to wanting some time to enjoy our young years before becoming parents.

[/quote]

First you say that you don't want to get married until you can support a family, but then you say you shouldn't try for children for a few years because of financial reasons. These goals seem to contradict each other, can you please clarify this?

Also, I do not believe "wanting some time to enjoy our young years" is a grave reason for delaying children.


#19

I hate to say it, but this was my reaction to your post as well. I believe, generally, that if you’re not ready the have children, you’re not ready to be married. I think that’s just practical, too. If I were in your shoes, I would ask myself if wanting to be young and enjoy yourselves more is actually a serious, **just **reason to put off having children. Honestly, it sounds to me like a good reason to NOT get married.

The good part is it sounds like you’re a thoughtful and sensitive young man, so you have that going for you. And it sounds like the two of you are pretty good at, or at least practiced in, communicating with eachother about these things which is essential to a good marriage.

One more point, in reply to your comments about waiting a few years after you get married to start having children, and how your parents waited 10 years, etc. Yes, your parents were blessed but not all couples end up like they did. Even though you are young now, there are absolutely no guarantees about your future health and fertility. I know so many couples who put off having children in their early years of marriage for various reasons. And then, when they were eventually ready, they weren’t able to conceive the way they thought they would be. I know people like this in real life, and CAF is full of such stories. Thinking that you’re still young doesn’t change anything. There are many young couples struggling with unexpected infertility here as well. Or who were maybe eventually able to conceive, but not to have as many children as they had wanted to. There are just no guarantees in life about anything, so IMO it’s best to not look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak. Being able to have children is a blessing and a gift for a married couple and I would embrace it with open arms if I were you.


#20

Obviously the OP is in a better position to explain this, but I can see where there would be a difference between the financial stability needed to provide for oneself and a spouse, and the financial stability needed to support a child.

The OP does not say, but I take from his post that he is rather young (perhaps still in school).

The Church does not require that spouses have a grave reason, merely a just reason (CCC 2368)


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