**warning: if you don’t want to hear about NFP (Natural Family Planning), you might just want to skip down to everyone else….
We’ve been doing this a long time. (With an unscheduled break in between) It’s still hard. If you aren’t aware of what NFP is, I’ll give you a super quick version or you can head over HERE to get the full version. Essentially, it is tracking your body’s natural temperature cycles in addition to your body’s mucous (EWWW, wish there was another word, sorry) pattern to determine the most fertile time of the month to either a) become pregnant or b) avoid a pregnancy. Generally done with God’s will in mind and being open to life. Although, you don’t have to be Catholic to use it.
Now, an egg’s lifespan is a mere 24 hours (at best), but sperm can last several (up to 4!!!) days in the fallopian tubes on their journey to conquer the egg. Therefore, if you are avoiding a pregnancy and you are using NFP there can be a substantial abstinence period depending on the regularity of your cycle. Substantial people. Anywhere from a week to 14 days or more. Like I said, it depends on your regularity.
For the most part, people who use NFP are OPEN TO LIFE. They believe God has a plan, that His plan doesn’t always gel with what we believe the plan to be, and His plan is ALWAYS better….even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time. He can use ANYthing for good. So “open to life” means, if a pregnancy happens, they are OK with it. Sometimes it is meant to be. Just ask the people who contracepted and still conceived. If God wills it….it’s going to be. Believe it.
The difficult part of NFP is in the abstinence (obviously). That part is also the most fruit-bearing. This is the period to communicate and find other ways to be close, to enjoy each other’s company without it being all about sex. Sometimes for women it’s easier….though usually around ovulation women are more amorous. So you have to find a way around not getting all worked up and other ways of being distracted. That. Is. Challenging. Mainly because it’s a two-way street and if you both aren’t on that same path and wavelength there is a LOT of potential for strife. Simcha Fisher wrote a great piece about that in the National Catholic Register.
The other difficult part about NFP is that not a lot of people practice it. Even in the Catholic church. Sometimes those that do, don’t talk about it. So how in the world do you help each other? Encourage each other? Commiserate with each other? It’s tricky. We are called to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). This is where friends come in very handy!! We have a large Catholic community, but honestly, I can only say I know for SURE 2 that practice NFP…although I suspect a few others. The subject just does NOT come up.
The great part about NFP is that: a) After the abstinence period…..GAME ON! Well worth the wait. and long-term, b) couple who practice NFP in their marriage have EXTREMELY low divorce rates. Other pluses to abstinence:
- mastering the art of self-control, which really just spills over to EVERY aspect of life…finances, physical well-being, prayer. Simply because in this life, although we’ve grown quite accustomed to instant gratification, not everything is to be obtained. RIGHT. NOW.
- Improving communication. It’s a good way to pass the time….
- Picking up hobbies. The kids won’t always be home and when that empty nest comes, there should be some things you enjoy doing together. Aside from bedroom “stuff”.
Head on out and see what all the other May bloggers are up to!