Natural Family Planning Awareness Week starts today. Below is the witness talk my husband and I gave at each Mass this weekend. Please read and share with others to spread the good news about God’s plan for love and marriage!
Charisse: Our natural family planning journey began 13 years ago when we became engaged while attending graduate school in Boston. I had heard of NFP in a high school PSR class, but I didn’t fully understand what it was or why it was important. My Catholic conscience prompted me to find out more, and I came across the Couple to Couple League on the internet. I found out that NFP is knowledge of a couple’s mutual fertility by reading the woman’s physical signs of fertility and infertility. And I was happy to learn that, when used properly, NFP is over 99% effective in postponing pregnancy. But I still wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the Church telling me what my husband and I could do and when we could do it, even after we were married…
Rob: I converted to Catholicism after Charisse and I were engaged, so all of the Church’s teachings were new to me. I had never heard of NFP, but it seemed important to Charisse, so I wanted to know more. I also knew that I didn’t want the woman I loved to put any harmful chemicals into her healthy body, so I really liked the idea of a more natural approach to family planning. We learned what we could about it online, and decided to sign up for a class through the Couple to Couple League.
Charisse: After the first class, we were sold! We learned more about the design of our bodies than we ever thought possible, the reasons for Church teaching in the areas of love and sexuality became clear, and, most importantly, we felt closer than ever before. By the end of the three class series, we were knowledgeable of our fertility, confident in the effectiveness level of NFP, and ready to fully welcome God into our marriage.
Rob: We used NFP to postpone pregnancy for about the first year-and-a-half of our marriage, then felt called to start our family. It was only after several months of trying to conceive that we realized what a gift our fertility was.
Charisse: As our family grew, we also went through a few job changes and some moves. And as our family grew, I’ll admit that those changes became more difficult to manage. I love our children dearly, but after our fifth one arrived just a few months before Rob changed careers, I felt pretty overwhelmed. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I needed a break.
Rob: The beauty of NFP is that you have to talk about your plans for your family at least every month. You find yourselves reevaluating your needs, your financial situation, your current children’s needs, and your vision of the future. You have to talk and make a decision about how you will apply your knowledge of your fertility that month. So after our fifth child arrived, Charisse and I talked. And, after several conversations and lots of prayer, we decided that God was calling us to put our energy into other things for the time being.
Charisse: At times, God’s desires for us to put our energy into something else or simply grow in virtue are stronger than our desires of the flesh. And so we talk, we find ways to help each other through a particularly difficult time of abstinence, we build each other up, and we help each other to grow in holiness. If God is calling us to postpone pregnancy, the only option Rob and I will ever consider is using NFP to do that. But this has led us to deeper conversations, reading marriage books together, and a sense of intimacy that is forever. And we are still open. We are still open to God’s voice telling us, “Now it’s time to have another one.” And if and when that happens, we’ll be ready. NFP is immediately reversible. We’ll be ready to be God’s instruments for bringing another new life into the world.
Rob: If you want to know more about natural family planning, Charisse and I are certified NFP teachers through the Couple to Couple League and offer regular class series.