Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some Thoughts on Abstinence

Couples have very different experiences with NFP - I am so grateful that NFP has, at least so far, been fairly straightforward for NaturalGuy and I. There are so many factors that make NFP easy or difficult to use, and we're very lucky to land on the "easy" side of the spectrum.

Last week I read an article by protestant pastor Jonathon Parnell about "when the sex should stop" in a marriage. It's not written with NFP in mind, but it gets to the core of sex being about sacrifice for your spouse. Some months, the sacrificial aspect of NFP seems especially topical! And then I read articles about couples with truly grave reasons to postpone from sex, and I'm reminded once again of how lucky we are!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Why EVERY couple should learn NFP and required NFP courses are a BAD IDEA

Our diocese is currently considering making an NFP course a requirement of marriage preparation. If the diocese changed their requirement, all couples would be required to complete a full course in NFP, which generally means a series of three classes and charting follow up. Currently there is required NFP training, although it it generally mentioned briefly in the general marriage prep classes, or brought up by a priest when individually counseling couples. I have mixed feelings about this. We were not required to learn NFP while engaged, but we took our course at a parish that requires it, so we've seen a little of both situations.

On one hand, I really like the idea of requiring NFP training before marriage. Natural Family Planning is really just information - it's helpful to any couple of childbearing age. There's an obvious utility to requiring this course for couples who plan on postponing children when they are first married, but I think it's also useful in other cases. If a couple plans to try to conceive as soon as they're married, NFP can help them identify any obvious fertility problems when they are engaged, giving them a head start on addressing those problems. A well-rounded NFP course also covers how to increase your chances of conceiving, the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and child, and breastfeeding's effect on fertility. If these couples wish to use NFP after the birth of children, they will be able to pick it up much faster than if they had never charted before. This is especially important because post-partum charting can be more difficult, and of course, time is precious when a couple has small children! Finally, many couples switch to trying to postpone pregnancy during very stressful times in life - job loss, financial troubles, health problems, a child who needs extra help - and it's good to already know the basics of NFP before hand, so you aren't trying to learn something new and difficult in the midst of everything else.