Monday, June 3, 2013

NFP Ruins Romance!!!

NFP (Natural Family Planning) ruins romance.  No, seriously, I am not being sarcastic or cute…NFP ruins romance.  

From the time I was little, I was given images of what it means to be in love and express that love romantically, and lemme tell you, I loved them! I love all things romantic.  And, NFP destroys those things.  

I am blessed because everyone in my immediate family enjoys the fruits and labors of practicing a sexual life without the barrier of artificial birth control, so we are known to have VERY honest conversations.  The husband and I were sitting with my sister (who has four kids, three and under) and her husband (who isn’t Catholic, but goes along with this whole lifestyle thing for the love and respect of Theresa….winning!).  We were discussing how ‘hard’ NFP was.  And my brother-in-law said something insightful.  He said, ‘we totally know how to not get pregnant, it’s just sometimes that’s really inconvenient’.  Imma tell you blog readers…NFP ruins romance.  BUT, there’s a silver lining. 

 NFP ruins romance, but here’s my question, ‘how’s romance working for us?’  And, NFP ruins romance, but increases intimacy.  Confused?  How about I take a hot second and explain…

First, how’s that ‘romance’ thing working for us? 

Do you know, prior to marrying Aaron, more than one person sat me down and said that my expectations for our wedding night (we decided, with the Grace of God, to hold out till the ol’ union was witnessed by the Big Guy before we gave ourselves fully to each other) were way too high and I would probably be disappointed? 
You see, the type of romance that NFP ruins is a type of romance that has been defined by a media machine that isn't really leaving anybody super satisfied.  You know the type right?  The type where you rip each other’s clothes off whenever you feel an inclination.   The type that reminds us that you absolutely must ‘check out the goods’ before committing to a lifetime with them. The type of romance that shows sex as totally consequence free, do whatever whenever, and with whomever you’d like, no worries, it’s a sign of power.  Only, the thing is, people are more empty than they have ever been.  Divorce rates (for those that even bother to make such a bold commitment as to claim a desire to be together until death parts) are sky high.  ‘Family’ is redefined out of necessity because romance is so freaking fantastic, that it can’t keep us entertained for more than a couple years.  The thing is, I’d argue, maybe ‘romance’ albeit awesome…isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.

But you know what is? 


This is something I have been a bit hesitant to write about in this blog, because I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way, but when I found out I was pregnant with my third child in three years, I was terrified.  Not because I didn't know ‘how that happens’. Not because I didn't know that when we decided to make love, there was the slightest chance a child could be conceived. I was terrified because I cannot stand pregnancy.  No, for real, I don’t like one damn thing about it. It’s 1:09 am, and I am up right now, writing a blog on NFP because pregnancy takes away my ability to sleep.  BUT, what’s FAN FREAKIN-TASTIC is I still have to work a full day tomorrow, followed by coming home and caring for my two in diapers, just to probably face insomnia again tomorrow night.  The thing is, I freaking hate pregnancy.  So, when I sat up in bed in January after trying to fall asleep, mentally calculating dates and telling Aaron, ‘you have to go get a test right now’…I paced the house for twenty minutes while he went.  When he got home, I went in the bathroom but Aaron asked if this time, he could be the one to read the results.  I sat in the family room until he came out.  With a smile on his face he said, ‘here we go again…’ and do you know what I did? I BURST into tears.  Not cute, happy tears, but, "WTF, I can’t go through this again, my body isn’t ready for it, I have five more months of work, we were suppose to go on a cruise, I can’t be sick for nine more months, I have two babies to take care of…" sheer terror tears.  Friends, I was hysterical.  And, do you know what the husband did?  He held me.  He rubbed my back.  He promised me we would get through it.  He reminded me want a big family and I am a good mom. He swore he would put in 110% to make this work.  He left a couple hours later and bought me two dozen roses and all my favorite foods.  He said, ‘I can’t believe we are having another’.  He loved me maybe as good as he has ever loved me before.


Each and every month (when I am not knocked up) we have to gauge where we are at as a family.  Where we are at emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually.  During our fertile window, we have to talk about whether or not we can handle another child. We have to take inventory of our lives, our kids, our marriage. People pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit on counselor’s couches to figure out a way to discuss the things that NFP demands you discuss at least once every thirty days.  And, for us, during those windows…sometimes we decided we weren’t ready (believe it or not).  Sometimes we decided we were (lil' A and Joey).  And sometimes, we decided that we’d trust that the act of loving each other was such a good and necessary thing, that we’d be open to having another (Baby #3). 


Do you know what freaked me the freak out about nfp?  Like, for real?  Like, I needed to seek counsel from women who had been married longer than I? I could not figure out how to live chastity in marriage during times of abstinence.  Check it!  When Aaron and I decided that we didn't want to have sex until after the Sacrament of Marriage, we had to be careful about certain things.  We didn't live together, we didn't change in front of one another, we didn't lay together every.single.freaking.night.  Because, if we did, chances are, our ‘commitment’ to waiting wouldn't have been successful (and we had some issues mind you…).  So after having lil’ A and getting our first taste of NFP, I completely didn't know how to live the virtue of chastity in the correct way in order to abstain during ‘fertile’ times.  It freaked me the freak right out.  Do you know we had to go to confession to discuss lines of chastity being crossed in our MARRIAGE?!?!!?  Who knew!!!  But, as we worked at it, we were given a gift.  A gift of communication.  A gift of cherishing each other and working on loving each other even during those darn ten days when sex isn't really an option (without getting pregnant).  And that stuff is good my friends.  FRUSTRATING!!! But, oh so good.


I have shared this story many times with teens, but about three months into dating Aaron I said, "Just so you know, at some point, I am going to want to sleep with you…and I need you to be the one that puts a stop to it".  And, sure enough, sometime later, that is exactly what happened.  I wish so desperately every teenage girl I work with who feels pressure to have sex could know what it feels like to have a man say, "I made you a promise, and your soul is the most important thing to me, so we, for right now, are going to shut down what we’d like to do and spend some time in prayer".  It is awesome.  I wish, so many married women I know, would be able to feel what it’s like to have a man put aside his desires (and trust me, maybe TMI, but I've got a guy full of desires) in order to selflessly love her.   Now, albeit, the fact that I am on my third kid in three years shows that it doesn't happen often, but through the frustration of ‘times of abstinence’ there is a beauty when my husband has said, ‘Mary, we just have to wait a few more days’.  You see, self control is not something that men are celebrated for and known for these days (with the porn industry, popular media, etc… telling them at every turn it isn't a value they need to perfect, it’s no wonder why), but it is so.darn.wonderful to see it acted out.  And you know what that is?


So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it does suck. It sucks when living NFP you can’t just rip each other’s cloths off whenever you want.  Sometimes, it really sucks you have to tell each other ‘no’ when all you really want to do is hold each other all night long.  Sometimes, it does suck when you find yourself pregnant a bit earlier than you anticipated you would be because your silly husband is just too darn good looking.  But you know what?  I’d take the intimacy any day, over the romance that doesn't really seem to be working for people.

Right before I got married, I was giving a chastity talk for just girls.  We were discussing how hard it is to not have sex before marriage.  I was sharing that being an engaged woman, it was so much more difficult than I thought it would be.  And this woman who had been married over twenty years shared something to this effect.  She said that after 20 years of marriage, her and her husband still have a very active and beautiful sex life.  She said out of all the friends she knew, not one of them could say the same thing.  She shared that she credits that to the time they were dating, the decision to wait till marriage.  For them, sex was never something they took for granted, but something that was always special. 

That stuck with me and I have full confidence that 20 years down the line, because of the intimacy we live daily due to our decision to love each other through NFP, we will be a holier, more connected couple.

DISCLAIMER- Before er’body gets upset. I am not claiming that couples who do not use NFP cannot be intimate and have shallow relationships based on false romance.  I am just sharing what works for us and why it does.  To remind you, I’m not judgin’ you because, ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’… J


  1. I totally hear what you are saying, and sex is very planned with NFP, but I do think the romance is kept alive for two reasons:

    1) When we know we can, we make it extra special - meaning we talk it up in the days leading up to it, we put the kids to bed early, we make sure to have a nice bottle of wine in the house, etc.


    2) Because we can only have sex certain times of the cycle (when spacing babies) it never gets old or boring. It's romantic to me to still get all excited and giddy about sex with your spouse. What's not romantic is to be able to have sex almost every night and it becomes routine. Christmas every day would lose the specialness, ya know?

    1. Yup, I meant 'romance' as illustrated by secular culture mostly through media! We still have lots of romance :) It's just way better than the kind most strive for today!

  2. Mary this is so great!!! One thing I have also realized and has been hard for us in marriage is also understanding the lines of chastity and what they are in marriage, like ya said especially when abstaining...thanks for your honesty and realness; one of the reasons i love your writing:)

  3. I get your whole post. I get it. (I love those pics of your hubby and you, you are so pretty--you need to picture yourself more on here!)

    My hubby and I waited. I wouldn't change that for the world. (besides the sin fact) the first night excitement, the newness of it all, it just made it so special. I remember thinking, he holds me like he holds his rosary, so delicately.

    I hate pregnancy too. I always wonder why the ones who have no problems with pregnancy at all, only have one or 2 kids? I am really horny while pregnant though...that is kind of fun....til I'm too big to move. (which doesn't take long)

    I used to give chastity talks. Before I married my husband. I was married once before, and it was a bad marriage, well, it was not a marriage. It was annulled. 2 priests told me to leave him. Long story not getting into now, but that time, I gave in. I always said I was not going to have sex before marriage, and when it did, I was crushed. I cried. I thought in my head, "Now I have to marry this man". I gave in, because I had no boundaries. We need boundaries. We need to know how far we are going to go, before we go there. Are we only going to hold hands? Are we going to do friendly kisses? Then if we cross that line, we need to go to Confession. The healing power of Confession. I truly believe sex before marriage is an in for evil. It opens the door. This did not happen with my husband, and we have a true marriage in the eyes of God.

    Wow, I went way off there....
    My husband and I are abstaining right now in those times and it is not easy. But it sure keeps the lines of communication open every month. All month long actually.

    I love everything you wrote. Great post.

  4. You know, I teared up when I read Aaron's reaction to #3. So wonderful. I freaked with #2, and my man stood right by me and told me he was incredibly proud of me and thankful that I do this for our family. Tears.

  5. This is a great post! I love your honesty on this topic.

  6. Love the article - was well worth the wait! ;-) I'm with Jenna - you have a prince of a man there, my friend. And I totally get the reaction. I'm glad you put "romance" in the comments, too. My issue is that I don't think romance = sex. More on that another day. :)

  7. Love this post. Thank you for your courage!

  8. This is incredible. I love your story!

  9. This is miserable and grossly misguided. The apostle Paul DID NOT call for frequent, routine periods of marital sexual abstinance within marriage. He preached the exact opposite!
    Paul also NEVER called for the prohibition of artificial contraception (yes, they had it, even in ancient times!). And NEITHER DID ANY OTHER BIBLICAL AUTHOR!
    Trying to pretend that God demands that spouses use only "natural" contraception is flat-out anti Biblical and HUGELY DISINGENUOUS, since NFP requires the use of modern technology and medical expertise to alert a woman when she is, recently was, or will be fertile. Aren't these modern, man-made advances "artificial," too?
    Why not teach that a married couple must completely abstain from sex if they absolutely need to temporarily avoid pregnancy? But then again, if they stick with the plan of temporarily delaying the start of a new pregnancy and are genuinely willing to have the maximum number of kids they can handle financially and circumstantially, then go ahead and use REAL contraception like the copper iud and a condom or the pill and a condom. It AMOUNTS TO THE SAME THING!

  10. Guess we have a different understanding of the Apostle Paul.

    Artificial Contraception would never be invited into my marriage.

    Anti biblical and hugely disingenuous (in caps for affect)? Strong feelings eh?

    Not that I actually think you want to dialogue about this, but NFP works with the body to control fertility, rather than forcing the body to stop working as it was meant to.

    And yes, I know couples who completely abstain from sex to avoid life threatening pregnancy and my husband and I would do the same if it became necessary :)

    Have a beautiful day!