It's not exactly a trend and certainly not a "fad" but by my impression starting about 20 years ago, the modern Natural Family Planning movement began to break back into the mainstream of Catholicism - okay we're still working on that. Anyway, that's when people I know started using NFP.
Now, after 12 years of NFP marriage myself I want to begin sharing some of my thoughts and experience and wisdom with NFP. I think this will be at least 4 parts, and may become an ongoing theme for this blog.
Before I begin - I really want to ask you all to pray for NFP families. Especially three families I know that in their own unique ways are struggling with how NFP is 'working' for them. Praise God for the blessing they have experienced in their families that they would have missed if they had contracepted. But also pray that they remain strong as they face the challenges that have come with those blessings.My Perception - Where my Friends are after 10 tp 15 years of NFP
My wife and I are close friends with 9 other NFP families that we have known for around the length of time we've been married. We also are more casually acquainted with quite a few other faithful Catholic families. I think that gives me a fairly representative exposure to the experiences, struggles, blessings and opinions that might be common in families that have been using NFP for a decade or so.
Living out an authentically Catholic Marriage in the bedroom is no piece of cake! At this time, 3 of the families in our 'cohort' are expecting, and none of them was intentional. This will be child 9, 7, and 5 respectively for these families. 2 of these families have been actively giving us second hand clothing because they were 'done' - ooops. It's one thing to be 'counter cultural' and pass on many of the luxuries and treats that most families around us take for granted. You get used to not eating out, wearing second had clothes, driving 10 year old cars, camping and staying with relatives for vacations. But.. it gets hard when you have to dig even deeper. When the 8 passenger minivan isn't big enough anymore. When you can't fit the whole family into the dining room at once. When you've taken 2 pay cuts, had your overtime eliminated, had your hours cut, and the house you could barely afford and that felt too small 2 babies ago needs to make room for 1 more. What do you do?
So right now I am praying for my friends. I'm praying because a couple of them sound like they are considering the unthinkable. I'm praying because they are stressed. I'm praying because the financial balance they've been struggling to maintain is looking more and more impossible. And I'm praying for my marriage because our own need to space births for the past # months is being achieved at a cost that may be straining our relationship. I'll get into details of that (vaguely) in another post.