One obstacle that my husband and I had to overcome as we embraced Natural Family Planning (NFP) early in our marriage was fear. Not mine, but the fear I perceived was his.
I can’t say I was ever scared of learning NFP. I wasn’t even scared of using NFP. I try to limit the amount of fear I allow myself to have. I’m the kind of person who will just plow forward and understand that I don’t know what’s ahead, but cling to my faith that there’s nothing out there that I can’t handle.
And so it was with NFP.
I was aware enough to understand, that I needed to have some empathy for my husband. I think the leap was a little farther for him when it came to NFP. Perhaps he was afraid we’d never have sex. Or maybe he was afraid we’d have more babies than we could handle.
Over the years, he’s been a bit more afraid than I when it came time to “plow forward” into the unknown abyss of another child. I’ve learned to accept that his fears are well-grounded and I’ve maintained my patience and trust that God would get the two of us on the same page eventually. I haven’t always believed it was my husband who needed to get on my page, nor do I feel that way today. I try to remember that God may, and does, move my heart to be in line with my husband’s whatever place that might be.
It’s a good reminder that NFP can and often is difficult for many people, for different reasons. We live in an instant-gratification culture, which has applied “I want it now” so thoroughly to sex that many kids “hook up” before they make it official and go exclusive with someone. There’s the mentality out there: “Yeah, I guess I *could* use NFP…but why WOULD I? Or why SHOULD I?”
I have found my discussions with non-Catholics about this topic don’t change too many hearts and minds. I’ve had some minor success encouraging Catholics to open their hearts to acceptance on the Church’s teachings. But a non-Catholic doesn’t have the same draw on the issue, and therefore the stakes don’t seem that high (to them). Personally, I think that the NFP way of life would be beneficial for everyone, but without a common ground rooted in faith, it seems I don’t have a way to connect. Often, the fact that five children accompany me most places I go is enough to shut down the conversation (even though I could explain that we were quite open to receiving all five of them).
Ultimately and (in my view) unfortunately, I agree with this young woman that adopting an authentic Catholic view of sexuality is essential in order to live the NFP lifestyle well.
The fear I perceived that my husband experienced with regard to NFP is the norm among a large percentage of people in our society. It’s encouraging that this issue has taken hold and many young people are spreading the good news about life without sterilization and artificial birth control and the benefits it brings.
Honesty about fears and potential struggles will help us soar to new heights of awareness.