Some things that are very overwhelming about using NFP are: how much I don’t know how to use it, how much you have to abstain if you are really trying to avoid having children, and how hard it is post-partum. I have talked to many who are in the same boat, and are wishing someone would have warned them on how challenging it is instead of painting it as a romantic walk on the beach during a sunset.
Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed with 2 kids in just about as many years of marriage, I was angry at the idea of NFP as my husband and I seemed like we were on different planets. Now, a few years later, I have more kids and (at least until #4 arrives) a little more sleep, so I am able to reflect more on the gift of NFP, and how I can hate it and love it at the same time.
Our oldest is 5 years old. He was conceived on our honeymoon and we were thrust into parenting before we really knew how to even live together and while my husband was starting up a new business. Money was tight and I was working for the Church. Somehow, by the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage and saying yes to God’s plan (not my own!) through NFP, we have been blessed with a growing business and more incredibly cute kids. Our oldest can ride a two-wheeler, he is learning to read and to swim, and he recently started showering all by himself (so independent!). With each milestone, I am so proud of him and proud to be his mom. I have never once looked at my son and thought, “Wow, we should have abstained more on our honeymoon.” Instead, I look at him and am thankful for NFP, and that God saw we could be parents before we thought we were ready. And with each subsequent child, they have been a gift that has stretched us unimaginably, but given us blessings a hundredfold.
So many couples say the benefit to NFP is planning their family on their own time. Well, actually you are planning your family in God’s time, because he is the Author of life, and in NFP, we invite God into that decision.
I know people on all ends of the spectrum – those who are angry that after years they still can’t have children, and those who are angry they think they have more children than they can handle. I don’t pretend to have the wisdom of God in each of these situations. But I do trust God, and so if you have those children, consider your gift. And if you don’t have children, read this blog post here.
NFP is not some magic recipe that, because you are not taking contraception, means you automatically have an amazing relationship. It’s like having amazing biceps or abs – you worked hard to get those! You took time every day to work out, knowing you’d be sore but that it would be worth it in the end. You sacrificed that piece of cake for the good of your body. You ate your vegetables even though you didn’t really want to because you knew it was good for you.