Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Catholic Family Life - in the Bedroom - Part 1

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.


  1. The stress the world puts on them is the rub i think. WHen the small families have all the amenities and can afford to send thier kids to college and go on the luxury vacations and they have to hear about it at work ect.

    It would be helpfor for you all to get together frequently so you can help create your own peer pressure to live the calling that God has placed on us as Catholics!

  2. makemeaspark

    That is definitely part of it. And we do get together with these families and our kids get together, and we see each other at various kid activities and that is a help. Our kids are used to the fact that other families also don't have cable, and don't have a PS3 or a Wii. And it's nice because they readily accept that our house isn't ready for "Better Home's and Garden's" or even "Redneck Homes and Yards." The one thing that slows down the socializing is that if you have 4 kids and invite over a family with 6 kids and another family with 9 kids - it gets crowded.

    I think most of our Cohort has accepted and even "Signed Up" for all of that. But it seems to me we are turning a corner. The economy and jobs are part of it. Part of it is maybe the stage we are in marriage and maturity. Whether it's a cause, a symptom or a scapegoat the challenge of Family Planning and sex and "how many more..." is getting the focus of some of our angst.

  3. Paul,

    Thanks for taking on this topic on your blog. My wife and I have been NFPing since our marriage in 2002. Not perfectly, mind you, but getting better with time.

    We are only acquaintances with a couple of families who also NFP. It is very challenging since both our children were born by c-section and multiple more births means increased risk. She also has very fertile cycles.

    I ask for your prayers as I will be praying for you and the couples you have mentioned.

    Peace of Christ be with you,


  4. Thadeus

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope people do find my thoughts helpful.

    I will keep you, your wife and your family in my prayers. That's a tough situation. I admire and respect you and your wife for sticking with NFP when I am sure there have been people encouraging you to use chemical or surgical sterilization.

    It definitely is a difficult commitment to use NFP when the other options seem to be safer and easier. I hope I am able to hold fast if I am ever in similar circumstances. When things have been most challenging for us, we've talked about switching, but it's like Peter said "Lord you have the words of eternal life. To whom should we turn?"

    I know others who have had similar circumstances. Some have shopped around to find a Priest that would pat them on the back and say "it's okay. Your case is severe. You can go ahead and have a vasectomy." As if an inherently immoral action can be made moral by a severe enough circumstance.

    I am convinced that living an authentically Catholic life requires us to sometimes choose the more difficult course, as hard as that is. Again, my prayers go out to you and your family. No matter how many and severe the difficulties you encounter in the coming years, I have Hope and Faith that you will feel blessed and loved by God throughout.

    God Bless