My husband and I are heading into our 4th year of marriage this April. We have one child who turned 3 in Feburary. I am actually far more confident about NFP than I was when we were learning it, and I thought I was pretty confident then.
My advise is this. The earlier you learn NFP (especially when you’re not sexually active), the better. I personally plan on teaching my daughter the basics of charting around the time she reaches puberty. It’s not because I expect her to have sex and want to safeguard her from pregnancy. It’s that I believe women should not be forced to live in generic ignorance over the functions of their bodies. It’s one thing to know basic human biology. It is another thing to understand your own body. It’s also a great health record. I chart, regardless of intentions. This, I believe, makes it less obsessive. It’s more like tracking your finances before making a purchase versus and impulsive buy.
I would say, using NFP can be stressful in the beginning. I definitely have a lower libido than my husband, and often I found I wasn’t all that interested during my infertile time. In the beginning, it felt like rejection. We didn’t always mutually want to have sex on our non fertile days. My husband complained about not feeling desired, and I felt at times like it was all centered around my husband. It wasn’t about what I wanted because when I wanted, we abstained to avoid pregnancy and when I didn’t want it,I had to have sex with him because there was this deadline before another period of abstinence. What if the desires didn’t come back before we hit another abstinence period. What if other things in our life interferred?
It also took me awhile for me to adjust to having sex. Totally unrelated to the NFP, both my sister and I found sex to be painful not just the first time, but for the first few months of our marriage. Lubricant didn’t seem to help, though I realize now part of this was how we approached sex and my level of ignorance. I didn’t know when my body was ready and anxiety made it difficult for me to be ready.
I could definitely see others in our situation resorting to contraceptives. We were determined to stay faithful and prayed a daily rosary together. It was while praying the Joyful mysteries, and was meditating on the annunication in view of the Nativity, that I felt called to trust God. I felt like God intended for us to have a child right away even though our economic situation was anything but ideal. My husband felt the same way and at some point, I felt pretty certain we were going to have a little girl. We also thought that on a practical side, the fertile time might be less painful (considering the CM during that time). This was the best decision for us. We got pregnant right away and had a very stressful year, but it was worth it.
Our daughter has been the light in our lives, a sign of God’s grace. There was one day where I thought I was miscarrying her, and we both cried terribly. We knew it still wasn’t ideal, but we wanted this baby. She was important and now we have her.
It’s not the planning can’t be important. We have only one daughter and she is three. We feel right and justified in our decisions now. We also feel more at peace with NFP and our sex life has improved dramatically. NFP is really no big deal anymore to us. Remember to pray about your decisions together, and to not be afraid of where God calls you. After all, most of our control is an illusion anyway.
I had a friend who struggled with infertility for the first few years of her marriage. They were finally blessed with a baby, but in her six month of pregnancy, her husband got laid off. My sister and her husband also struggled with infertility for the first couple of years. When they got pregnant, things were economically okay for them. It wasn’t perfect, but they felt stable enough. He worked two jobs: part time police officer, part time jail work. She worked at a day care center, but she started having back issues. It got to the point where she was forced to leave her job, but between his two and his military stipend (he’s a retired vet), they decided it’d be best to allow her to be a stay at home mother. They even got to the point where they were economically well enough for her to quit her job during the pregnancy. About a month after she gave birth, he got an offer as a full time police officer. He quit his two other jobs and worked that for awhile, but the stress of the job was getting him. Someone found out he was going to talk to his VA counselor about handling the stress of the job, and they terminated his employment saying that he should reapply once he resolved his issues. They’re now living off the savings they were going to use to make a down payment on a house. And you know what? Their little boy is a bright shinning star. When the world is crashing down around you, young kids are pretty clueless. Her son is full of smiles. Just like my daughter, his joy helps his parents to have hope in God’s divine providence, to see all the wonderful little blessings in this life. Have faith in God and don’t be afraid of where He might lead you. God may have different plans for you.
Summary: The method of NFP is reliable, but keep an open heart of discernment when using it. Don’t get set in your ways and your will.