In our marriage prep, my Baptist fiancé and I listened awkwardly and with an impending sense of nervousness as monsignor explained that God called our marriage to be open to life and that we were to take a mysterious class on NFP (Natural Family Planning).
I was a cradle Catholic and my husband-to-be was discerning becoming Catholic but neither of us were knowledgeable on how NFP worked.
We strongly opposed abortion and birth controls that could prevent implantation but didn’t have a full understanding of the Catechism’s teaching on other methods including barriers and withdrawal. We just knew that when a sperm and egg met, life had been created and a soul had made for eternity.
Through reading and an introductory class on NFP, my fiancé and I came to learn about the beauty of the Catholic faith’s teachings and explanation on the gift of fertility. We began to understand that God sent the blessings of new life. NFP was simply a cooperation in His design and unless we had ardent reasons that would hinder us from caring for another blessing, we were meant to welcome and praise Him for each soul entrusted to our keeping.
After we were married, God blessed us with a baby each time we said “Thy will be done” in regards to our fertility.
Those were not the easiest of times. We had some doubts if we could actually implement NFP going forward. We did not feel that we could rely on it and that we may not be able to handle all the Lord might entrust to us. The day before our 5thwedding anniversary, I delivered our third child.
Though we were very grateful to the Lord for our children, we felt spent emotionally and had a lot of doubt about providing for our family. The Holy Spirit led us through the gift of prudence to learn another method of NFP than the one we had learned in marriage preparation.
We found we could rely on it for spacing our blessings in order to provide emotionally, monetarily and spiritually for our children.
Overall, NFP has been a relief to me knowing I am not preventing the Lord from creating life for the Kingdom to come. My husband and I are able to be faithful to God’s teaching and still give ourselves fully to each other. I have a wonderful sense of peace that I can meet my Maker without having to tell Him that I refused or didn’t trust His will in my vocation of marriage.
To those entering marriage or already in that vocation, I would describe NFP as difficult but also relieving.
It is a sacrifice so it includes pain and beauty but also a deep trust and reliance on God’s will that aids us along our journey home.