Young Marriage and NFP


#1

Hi there,
I am a 25 y.o. and thinking of engagement with my 21 y.o. girlfriend.
She is still in college and we would like to do some travelling and work abroad after she’s finished her schooling.

We love each other very much and were wondering if marriage is right for us at this stage. We are open to life but would prefer to have children in 3-5 years. Is it wise to enter into marriage?

Thanks for your input.


#2

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with planning when to have children even if its a bit off into the future. As long as its within reasonable time I guess, like you can’t say you’d want to start having children when you’re 50 which is pretty slim without technological help or a miracle.

As long as you’re willing to accept any children that may come any sooner than the planned time, then its fine.


#3

Ok, I guess we need to do a bit of thinking as, we are from different countries and I will be living in her parents home while she is in college next year. Ideally we would want to have our own home when we had a child and possibly had some life experience in travelling together as a married couple.

Even though NFP is reliable to a certain point it would be unwise to assume that we would have no chance of having children.


#4

Are there any other young couples who are facing the same situation where they wish to get married but as for having children straight away is maybe not on their minds.

I do have friends that are over seas (married) and I know they wouldn't be having children any time soon but also know they are good Catholics, but I can't bring my self to ask them such a personal question.


#5

Not without a pre-nup and a ring with a diamond the size of a mothball.


#6

We weren’t quite as young (I was 24) but we were in a somewhat similar situation when we got married.

I wasn’t Catholic and my husband wasn’t practicing at the time, so it didn’t really come up in the beginning. We had huge plans (or at least they seemed huge to us!). We had lived on a shoestring budget and saved up for two years because we wanted to go backpacking around the world for a couple of years. We had met our savings goal and were two months from leaving when we found out I was expecting.

As a sidenote: I made it through our engaged encounter and RCIA (we started going to Mass and learning about Catholic teaching shortly before we married) without ever being told contraception was against Church teaching. I read about it a few months into our marriage and burst into tears. And stopped contracepting and began learning NFP (and eventually embraced the teaching :)). But I digress…

When I told our priest our “serious” reason for avoiding he looked at me like I was crazy (it was school, my husband was beginning his graduate degree, and our plans to travel). He also said something along the lines of “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Plans change. We ended up living in a cabin without running water on my parents property for the first year and a half of my daughters life (we’ve upgraded to two daughters and ourselves in a single wide mobile home!). And now, looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My husband is still in school, and we’re still poor, but our priorities have shifted and we’ve done things that we never would have thought were possible if we’d set a timeline on our own.

That’s our experience. If you have a spiritual advisor or a priest you trust, you should probably talk with him about it. That helped us quite a lot!


#7

[quote="alexander_pope, post:5, topic:227777"]
Not without a pre-nup and a ring with a diamond the size of a mothball.

[/quote]

http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/0/7548/944164-troll_obvious_super.jpg


#8

[quote="RedSoxWife, post:6, topic:227777"]
We weren't quite as young (I was 24) but we were in a somewhat similar situation when we got married.

I wasn't Catholic and my husband wasn't practicing at the time, so it didn't really come up in the beginning. We had huge plans (or at least they seemed huge to us!). We had lived on a shoestring budget and saved up for two years because we wanted to go backpacking around the world for a couple of years. We had met our savings goal and were two months from leaving when we found out I was expecting.

As a sidenote: I made it through our engaged encounter and RCIA (we started going to Mass and learning about Catholic teaching shortly before we married) without ever being told contraception was against Church teaching. I read about it a few months into our marriage and burst into tears. And stopped contracepting and began learning NFP (and eventually embraced the teaching :)). But I digress...

When I told our priest our "serious" reason for avoiding he looked at me like I was crazy (it was school, my husband was beginning his graduate degree, and our plans to travel). He also said something along the lines of "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

Plans change. We ended up living in a cabin without running water on my parents property for the first year and a half of my daughters life (we've upgraded to two daughters and ourselves in a single wide mobile home!). And now, looking back, I wouldn't have it any other way. My husband is still in school, and we're still poor, but our priorities have shifted and we've done things that we never would have thought were possible if we'd set a timeline on our own.

That's our experience. If you have a spiritual advisor or a priest you trust, you should probably talk with him about it. That helped us quite a lot!

[/quote]

wonderful story


#9

Wow what a crazy turn of events. That’s awesome thank you for sharing that. I do realise how dynamic future plans are. So I take it you guys never got around to travelling? My girlfriend and I are crazy keen travellers haha I have my degree in Mechanical Engineering but she is still got 2 or 3 years to go and wants to get it over and done with asap so becoming pregnant in that time obviously wouldn’t be “ideal” in our little bubble world haha but i’m sure like your priest said God would just laugh at all our little plans :wink:

I will think about talking to a priest too. It was always my intention but it would also be good to get a priest on this forum to give feed back also. I’m not sure on how possible that is.

But thank you again for your feedback.
God Bless

Chris


#10

Oh just re-reading again. Once you guys came off ABC and started NFP how did it work out for you. Did you have planned or unplanned pregnancy from there onwards?


#11

[quote="CKA, post:1, topic:227777"]
Hi there,
I am a 25 y.o. and thinking of engagement with my 21 y.o. girlfriend.
She is still in college and we would like to do some travelling and work abroad after she's finished her schooling.

We love each other very much and were wondering if marriage is right for us at this stage. We are open to life but would prefer to have children in 3-5 years. Is it wise to enter into marriage?

[/quote]

My husband and I got married when I was 22 and he was 25. We were just like you--we still had things we wanted to accomplish before welcoming children into our lives (in fact, I think our anticipated "start making a baby" date was 3-5 years in the distance). Of course we intended to welcome an unexpected child, but because we felt our reasons to postpone children were "grave," (as the Church requires), we practiced extremely conservative NFP.

Our marriage struggled. It's hard to really analyze *exactly *why we struggled, but if I could turn back time I would have opted NOT to marry my husband until we were ready for the fullness of marriage, including a complete readiness for children. We ended up getting civilly divorced, returning to single life, then dating, and eventually getting remarried. We were remarried in August, starting trying to conceive in December, and just last night I discovered that I am pregnant.

MANY MANY MANY things are different now than with my first attempt at marriage. For starters, I'm a 27 year old woman instead of a 22 year old girl. I've also learned that love isn't something you feel, it's something you choose to do. But I do think that one of the biggest differences is that this time around, we were ready to pursue God's plan for US as husband and wife, instead of God's plan for each of us as separate individuals. And of course, for married couples, more often than not, God's plan involves children.

I guess what I'm saying is I personally don't believe that two individuals are ready for a Catholic marriage if they are not ready to dive into all aspects of it, including children. But that's based on my personal experience, not based on any research or study of Church teaching.


#12

[quote="CKA, post:3, topic:227777"]
Even though NFP is reliable to a certain point it would be unwise to assume that we would have no chance of having children.

[/quote]

Just wanted to highlight this. The only way to ensure "no chance" at children is to abstain from sex entirely. My personal opinion is that if you have genuinely "grave reasons" for postponing children, then you should abstain from sex entirely. And if you're going to abstain from sex entirely, it's impossible to have a valid Catholic marriage. Thus, my personal opinion is that couples who have genuinely grave reasons for postponing children at the outset of their marriage should not try to enter into a marriage quite yet. That's my $0.02. Take that and four dollars and you can buy yourself a fancy coffee! :)


#13

[quote="Augusta_Sans, post:12, topic:227777"]
Just wanted to highlight this. The only way to ensure "no chance" at children is to abstain from sex entirely. My personal opinion is that if you have genuinely "grave reasons" for postponing children, then you should abstain from sex entirely. And if you're going to abstain from sex entirely, it's impossible to have a valid Catholic marriage. Thus, my personal opinion is that couples who have genuinely grave reasons for postponing children at the outset of their marriage should not try to enter into a marriage quite yet. That's my $0.02. Take that and four dollars and you can buy yourself a fancy coffee! :)

[/quote]

Thank you so much for your reply and congratulations on your pregnancy. Just as an aside I don't drink coffee ;)

Yeah I tend to agree with you some what. I'm originally born in New Zealand with European parents (British and Swiss nationality) and my girlfriend is from the US. I also have a friend married for a year now. His wife is here in New Zealand and he is in New York at Opera school for the next 3 years in Manhattan. She visits him between work and he visits her on his off time during school. He is pretty low on money being in school and works a job or two there to pay for food etc. He's a great singer and is following a passion and a dream and could be quite successful but as for now they are almost like 2 singles in a marriage. I'm not sure as to ask him if they are having sex or not but i could see how a situation like this could be very problematic and whether they had seeked advice on their situation. They are both amazing catholic people. But their situation (her not being able to liive in the US without a visa) makes it impossible for them to have children or not ideal.

What are your thoughts?


#14

RedSoxWife gave some very wise advice. I'll add my two cents...

DH and I married when I was 22 and he was 21. We were entering our final semester of college. We thought we would use NFP to avoid pregnancy for...awhile...until we were in a stable situation (ie, he had a job with benefits). Well, as someone else posted, "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

Getting married changes how you approach life, and causes you to want and do things that you might not have seen yourself wanting or doing. RedSoxWife's story is a great example of this. In our situation, I started working a low-paying job at a bank (that came with benefits) just to provide for our family during those early months. It was challenging and yeah, we had plenty of reason to use NFP to avoid. But God changed our vision and our approach, and made us want a child to welcome into our happy, simple little life, even as we had not nearly met the "criteria" we had set for trying to conceive before we were married.

Of course, in our situation we had fertility problems--another plan not of our making!--that didn't lead us to conceive for two years. But my point here is that your heart and your love WILL change when you are married. And 3-5 years is a long time to depend on that plan not changing.

If you're open to starting your family earlier than you anticipate, then go ahead and get married, and be open to continuing to discern if using NFP to avoid pregnancy is what God is calling you to do. If you think there is absolutely no way you could provide for a child for another 3-5 years, then using NFP to avoid will stress you out (check out many of the threads on this forum to read about marital stress induced by NFP unjoyfully followed) and could tax your marriage.

In either case, you probably shouldn't marry unless you would be able to provide for the basic needs of a child (health insurance, a safe roof over his or her head, etc.).


#15

I’m with RSW!:thumbsup:

My dh and I got married right after I graduated from undergrad. I was 22, dh was 24. We had initially planned on using NFP for 3 years or so while I attended law school. Well nine months and one honeymoon baby later (baby was not planned, but completely expected :p) I was taking my spring finals in law school.

So now we have added another little blessing (also completely expected) and I am in my last year of law school and preping to take the bar exam. So we had 2 children in the time period where we were going to avoid :p. Yes, it has been difficult both financially and emotionally, but I guess I learned to trust in God. He provided in ways I never expected. Like a greater appreciation of my vocation as a wife and mother. I also realized that I didn’t really know what I wanted when I was younger, that a family and children not a career was my true vocation. We had big plans, :rolleyes: we still have plans, but they are more for the care of our family rather than ourselves.


#16

Ok thank you for ur post. It’s more of a case of my girlfriend finishing School and her dad wanting her to do that before having children and she and I both agree its not a bad idea.

Also what is “DH” i’ve seen it used a lot and tried to google it but only came up with some phrases I wouldn’t repeat on a catholic webpage.

Thanks again


#17

dh- dear husband.

I agree that finishing school is a good idea. I made dh wait until I finished undergrad to get married, because I wanted to finish that.


#18

[quote="jilly4ski, post:15, topic:227777"]
I'm with RSW!:thumbsup:

My dh and I got married right after I graduated from undergrad. I was 22, dh was 24. We had initially planned on using NFP for 3 years or so while I attended law school. Well nine months and one honeymoon baby later (baby was not planned, but completely expected :p) I was taking my spring finals in law school.

So now we have added another little blessing (also completely expected) and I am in my last year of law school and preping to take the bar exam. So we had 2 children in the time period where we were going to avoid :p. Yes, it has been difficult both financially and emotionally, but I guess I learned to trust in God. He provided in ways I never expected. Like a greater appreciation of my vocation as a wife and mother. I also realized that I didn't really know what I wanted when I was younger, that a family and children not a career was my true vocation. We had big plans, :rolleyes: we still have plans, but they are more for the care of our family rather than ourselves.

[/quote]

Great post! Thank you for sharing that :)
If you don't mind me asking, you mentioned that you expected or planned on getting pregnant both times even though you were using NFP ? So you were using it to get pregnant rather then postpone pregnancy?


#19

We had planned on using it to postpone, but when it came to actually using it, we decided that our reasons were not serious enough. So our children were not planned, but it was not a surprise that we became pregnant, especially since I was charting.

And once we had one, it wasn’t that hard to have another, since we didn’t want them too far apart. Our kids are closer than what I would have deliberately planned, but God certainly knows better than me, as I gave birth to ds#2 (darling son #2) until 6 hours after my last fall final, and I was able to spend all Christmas break with the baby, so it was really perfect timing.


#20

[quote="jilly4ski, post:19, topic:227777"]
We had planned on using it to postpone, but when it came to actually using it, we decided that our reasons were not serious enough. So our children were not planned, but it was not a surprise that we became pregnant, especially since I was charting.

And once we had one, it wasn't that hard to have another, since we didn't want them too far apart. Our kids are closer than what I would have deliberately planned, but God certainly knows better than me, as I gave birth to ds#2 (darling son #2) until 6 hours after my last fall final, and I was able to spend all Christmas break with the baby, so it was really perfect timing.

[/quote]

So you charted and then decided that it wasn't important enough to postpone pregnancy (with your plans that you had) and then became less cautious with the days of abstinence?

This has given us a lot to think about. But I can hardly expect my girlfriend to see her calling as a mother at the age of 22. I was no where in that mind frame 3 years ago.


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