Kids Motherhood Relationships

Why We Chose Natural Family Planning (No, We’re Not Crazy)

Why We Chose Natural Family Planning
Written by Kiley Shuler

People think we’re crazy when we tell them that we’re doing Natural Family Planning.

You’re going to get pregnant in your first six months of marriage.

Granted, if you pushed me into giving you some ideal timeline of when we would like to begin building our family, we’d probably be talking somewhere 2-3 years down the road.

I’ve discovered that the most frequent question recently married women are asked is some variation of, “So when are you planning on babies?” I tell them it’s somewhere in our future but that we’re very open to life. This confuses people.

Sadly, in today’s world, pregnancy is often viewed as a consequence of sex. Life and love have become detached. So much so that women every day choose to neuter their femininity and mask their most beautiful God-given gift, the ability to create life, so that they can be constantly sexually available to their spouse.

Many women who use contraception within their marriages have quoted that they’ve felt used. That contraception has lowered their sense of worth. Because their husbands saw them as constantly being sexually available, they felt taken for granted. These were not experiences that I was eager to encounter within my marriage.

Now I’m not saying that my husband (as of May 2015) and I are eager to begin having children right now, but we have had a rare and blessed opportunity to experience the raw beauty and true meaning of intimacy (both emotionally and physically). We cannot see life as a burden and we continue to grow closer to one another through our growing strength in our faith and understanding of one another.

In just a couple of months of marriage, I quickly understood the importance of chastity in a dating relationship. It isn’t arbitrary. We were practicing. We were practicing self-control, communication, and our ability to be emotionally (not just physically) intimate with one another. All virtues within a marriage.

I thought that Natural Family Planning was going to be difficult. But our dating relationship provided a natural and seamless transition into this lifestyle.

During our times of abstinence, we get to express our love for each other in nonsexual ways. As a result, the intimacy between us has deepened. And by using a calendar to track my cycle and know my fertility, I get to show my husband that I want to be with him as much as possible. Our anticipation for this marital act intensifies its joy.

Many couples do not consider Natural Family Planning because of the amount of “work” that it is. Unfortunately, I think there is a grave misunderstanding as to what exactly NFP is. I’ll spare you the details, and instead urge you to please research NFP. It’s hard to imagine your sex life being 5000x better, but it’s possible. If you want to develop a deeper the deepest level of intimacy with your partner, then Natural Family Planning is absolutely for you.

About the author

Kiley Shuler

If you’re trying to discover who I am, it’s easiest to start with what inspires me. I have an odd personality that is equally inspired by inappropriate humor and Saturday Night Live to the deepest chasms of the Catholic church and a divine love for religion that transcends far beyond human comprehension; a love fueled by the Holy Spirit.

  • Courtney Salmon

    You made some great points in this article. If I had to do it again I may go the NFP route, as it is my husband has gone under the knife, so we are done unless God send us any surprises. I was not happy with my birth control experiences (oral contraceptive), but like you found chastity to be a huge positive beginning to my marriage.

    • Hi Courtney! Thanks for replying! I myself was not raised in an NFP family (my dad got a vasectomy as soon after as I was born!) but my parents have been married for over 30 years now and have an absolutely beautiful marriage. I was called to NFP and chose to learn more about it on my own– But I was called to it because it reflected the mutual love and understanding that I was raised to see through my parents while growing up. It is absolutely possible to share the mutual love, respect, and self-donation that we often experience inside NFP outside of it as well– I think you (and my parents!) are a wonderful representation of that! I LOVE encountering others that are also passionate about chastity!

      God bless!

  • Kelly

    I think it is important to have understanding some things work for some people and don’t for others. It drives me crazy when people criticizes choices of others like this because it isn’t what they would do.
    NFP was never an option for me. With all my chronic health issues some of my medications are very unsafe for a tiny little fetus, and I have a very irregular cycle so I even when I tracked it, it was all over the place. I wanted to give my children the best chance for a healthy life from the very beginning, so I made sure I couldn’t get pregnant until we had a few newlywed years because I worried if I did before weaning off my medications I would be poisoning them before they even had a chance to live in the world. I now have 3 happy healthy children, and for each I was off of the dangerous medications before getting pregnant.
    I did find one part of your article interesting,
    “Many women who use contraception within their marriages have quoted that they’ve felt used. That contraception has lowered their sense of worth. Because their husbands saw them as constantly being sexually available, they felt taken for granted. These were not experiences that I was eager to encounter within my marriage.”
    While I don’t doubt at all there are woman who feel this way, I have never in my entire 12 1/2 years of marriage felt any of the things you mentioned. I think it is more about mutual respect between partners, than which way you choose to wait to start your family. My husband has never made me feel taken for granted and I have never felt my self worth lowered due to contraception.
    This is a great post and you expressed why you made you choice well.

    • Hi, Kelly! Thank you for the nice response. Contraception for medical purposes is not what I question in this article, I think that’s a different intent. What I’m primarily addressing here is the use of contraception solely for selfish purposes of preventing the gift of a child. It sounds like you made a tough decision in concerns to what would be best for yourself, your husband, and your children. And that’s of course something that I respect very much.

      Unfortunately, I have spoken with and have heard testimonies from a number of women who have moved from contraception to NFP who did feel used within their marriages. And it’s not in the way that many would associate with sexual abuse, but that they were never able to experience the gift of total and complete self-donation that we are able to experience through Natural Family Planning. I do agree with you that it is all about having a mutual respect and understanding with one another. I was not raised in a Natural Family Planning household– This is something that I discovered and felt called to on my own. My parents used oral contraception in order to space their children, and following the birth of myself, at the age of 26 my father got a vasectomy and my mother got a hysterectomy. My parents have a wonderful marriage (married for over 30 years now!) and are the reason why I felt SO called to the married life myself. You are right– It is ABSOLUTELY possible to have a wonderful marriage that does not involve NFP. My husband and I were very attracted to what we knew about NFP in marriages (0.2% divorce rate, etc.), and knew it was the best option for us!

      Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and creating conversation! God bless!

      • Kelly

        After the birth of our 3rd child our family felt complete. We have made the decision to make our family just the 5 of us and my husband got a vasectomy too, so we hopefully don’t have to worry about a surprise baby while I take the medications I do. Enjoy these newlywed days they are the best. 🙂

      • That’s what my parents said too– But good luck!! The Lord works in mysterious ways and decided to call my parents into adopting two more! 😉

      • Kelly

        Adopting is something I would actually be really cool with if the situation arose in our lives. If God called us to parent a child through adoption that is something I will not hesitant to take on.
        But with all my health stuff, having to get completely off the meds that help me cope with life (although the hormones changes with pregnancy do help some in making me feel better natural, I seriously wish I could bottle them to help with my health), and the fact that I get horrible awful morning sickness that got worse with each pregnancy and didn’t ever completely go away after the first trimester; I just can’t put my body through another pregnancy. I think that was a huge factor in why our family felt complete at 3. Three pregnancies was a lot for my body to go through and I see a physical
        therapist now to help my hips and pelvic floor heal since my fibromyalgia was not happy about the pregnancy stuff.

  • Beth Presswood

    The concept of “sexually available” seems like you’re erasing women who like sex. It also sounds like all these women are in abusive marriages where they need the threat of pregnancy to avoid being raped by their husbands. Your partner should respect your consent for sex. You shouldn’t have to use threat of pregnancy to get out of sex.

    • Hi, Beth! Thank you for helping create some conversation here! I appreciate your response.

      As I mentioned in the article, one of the beautiful pieces of Natural Family Planning and the short periods of abstinence that it includes is our ability to focus on allowing our emotional intimacy grow with our spouses. It seems safe for me to assume that you must use contraception, so is it also safe for me to say that you are not using contraception to prevent the birth of a child? Even if it is not the sole reason, by being on birth control, you are eliminating “the threat of pregnancy.” With the intent of sex being for pleasure alone, removing the chance of procreation, your body becomes a vessel for pleasure — no longer life-giving.

      The idea behind Natural Family Planning is that life becomes more valued. NFP families tend to be larger because pregnancy is not seen as a consequence of sex but rather it’s seen as the creation of love. The idea of feeling used does not mean that you are in a sexually abusive or bad marriage. But the very nature of contraception and its purpose fosters a level of rejection between spouses. By sterilizing the act of intercourse, the woman is saying that she wants to make love, but will kill any sperm that come her way. The man is saying that he accepts everything about the woman except for fertility. He gives everything to her except his potential fatherhood. The language of sex should be that of complete self-donation, but that is impossible with contraception. Since the body reveals the person, a rejection of the body is a rejection of the spouse. And that is (often times, I of course would never say *always*) why many women feel “used” while in a marriage that uses contraception. I say women, because that’s what I relate to as a woman. It is possible for men to feel used in this exact same way.

      Neither spouse is getting to experience total and complete self-donation, at least not in the way that sex is intended (both from a religious/spiritual view, but also from an evolutionary view as well!).

      • Beth Presswood

        1. It’s interesting that you bring up an evolutionary viewpoint, because as a atheist, that is what I have. I believe that my reproductive system evolved to have a ton of kids to pass on my genes, especially since there is high fetus and infant mortality naturally. But this evolutionary advantage that got enough kids to maturity and reproduced itself does not work to one’s personal advantage because one may not desire any kids or only 2 or 3.

        I view the decision to have a kid as having extreme gravity. It is something I would do at most twice in my life, and to have that come ill-timed would impact the course of my entire life.

        I do not view not accepting the default fertility we evolved with to being lacking in “self-donation.”

        2. I do not use contraception currently because my husband is infertile. I do chart my cycle for health reasons, which is why I sometimes stumble across articles like this.

        3. I do not know any contracepting women who say they feel “used” unless they are actually experiencing abuse.

      • My main dispute with atheism is in regards to your comment on achieving any kind of personal advantage or any desires that benefit you. In atheism, one believes that everything happens by chance. As humans, we are simply made of matter and atoms. Our make-up is really no different than that of a rock. Granted we are much more biologically complex, we are also just a random make-up of different atoms and particles. There is no God. We happened by chance of the universe. I am random. I was not designed. I was not created for any purpose.

        So to be truly atheist and not have any inclination or belief (no matter how miniscule it may be) in a God, you should not stray from Darwinism. Meaning everything we do should be for that of the preservation of our species and, with that, procreation. Now God, he gives us free will. He gives us the decision for us to choose the lives that we would like to live. With God, we have the ability to stray from the idea that the world is random. We were created for a purpose, we get a say in what our purpose will be. We are more than matter and we are made for more than procreation alone; we get to feel love, attachment, belonging, unity.

        So when you talk about a desire for children, whether that is many or few, we find beauty in Natural Family Planning and our lives as beloved sons and daughters of Christ. We have a natural opportunity to do as we desire. The purpose of sex in a Christian marriage is for procreation, but as equally as important, for unity between spouses. Desire, passion, purpose: all gifts from God. Feelings that are not random.

      • Kelly

        I think that you can still have self-donation while using contraception. I truly think it depends on the person, the relationship, and what your feelings on sex/reproduction are, and what you feel in your heart.

        Sex for us was much more about showing our mutual love and respect for each other. A way to bond in the most intimate way as husband and wife. Neither of us felt as you stated above, “By sterilizing the act of intercourse, the woman is saying that she wants to make love, but will kill any sperm that come her way. The man is saying that he accepts everything about the woman except for fertility. He gives everything to her except his potential fatherhood. The language of sex should be that of complete self-donation, but that is impossible with contraception. Since the body reveals the person, a rejection of the body is a rejection of the spouse.”
        Those were things that never crossed either my husband or my mind ever.

        However due to my health conditions we tended to have short periods of absence due to severe pain I was suffering that made my world be much more about making it day to day. I also think that during times of having my period we experience what you are taking about with a period of abstinence in which we could grow closer as a couple with out the need for sex to do so.

        But my thoughts on keeping myself from getting pregnant were also I can’t get pregnant while on these medications. It could damage my future baby. With my medical need to use contraception, it was about keeping my children safe from the medications I was putting into my body for my health conditions before they were even part of my body and starting to grow into a tiny little baby.

        It caused my views on not getting pregnant to revolve around the fear of hurting my children before I ever even got a chance to meet them. 😉 It made NFP not something I considered a safe option to keep myself from getting pregnant before we were ready to start our family. I remember thinking how I would never forgive myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to keep my future children safe before I knew if it was even possible for me to get pregnant or not (side note, I have lots of problems with my body but fertilely wasn’t one of them) after getting pregnant so quickly with my first child it confirmed to me how much I need medical intervention in keeping myself from getting pregnant.
        With my very irregular cycle once, early in our marriage I went 3 months with out getting a period. Before I took the test each month (and confirmed the results of the home test with a blood test from my doctor) and knew for sure I was not pregnant, I was panicked. Not because I we weren’t ready to start our family at that point, but because of how much medication I was taking. And if I was pregnant what was happening to the very fragile little life with all the things inside me potential hurting it.

  • Melissa Moore

    I have a medical condition (cystic fibrosis) that in the beginning required me to use birth control as we were unsure of how my body would handle pregnancy. I have a beautiful and healthy child, turns out i handled pregnancy just fine, and could do so again. I now take birth control for the prevention of pregnancy for the simple fact, that I do not want anymore children, as of now. Once you finally do become a mother you will realize that it is the most insanely difficult job you will ever have, and that for some people, they have a limit on how many children they feel like they can be a “great” mother to. In the opinion of this being a selfish choice, I completely disagree. I’m a woman first, a wife second, then a mother. I feel the one child as of now allows me to still be me, and have a wonderful relationship emotionally and sexually with my husband. Until you become a mother, this is something very difficult to fully understand, and you can’t possibly understand vicariously through “other people’s” experiences. In the discussion of birth control making women feel used, I feel like this is more of a “relationship” issue. If you at ANYTIME regardless of the use of contraception or not, feel that your partner is disrespecting or unappreciative of your needs and feelings, it’s not because of birth control…it’s a deeper rooted issue, and should probably be discussed as such. I can completely respect the choice someone makes for their partnership, even if I don’t agree with the fact that it’s “considered selfish” as I said, this is probably something you will grow to understand and appreciate more as you age and gain experience in your marriage.

  • We use NFP and it has been very easy to “plan” our children. Many of our extended non-Catholic family said they were surprised that we waited 4 years after marriage to have a child. Like you, we practiced chastity in our dating relationship. I’ve read over the comments and want to point out that many people have a very solid relationship, emotional and physical, with their significant others. However, as one reply pointed out, you can’t experience everything vicariously. NFP isn’t easy and the temptation to use contraceptives is always present. It’s about the CHOICE, as a couple, to find ways of expressing love that do not include man-made items…it’s NATURAL. It explains a lot about how our bodies work and it can help with medical issues. It’s well-researched, not to mention having its roots here in Nebraska at Creighton University!

    • Kelly

      As I said below I take medications for chronic health conditions that are unsafe during pregnant and have a very irregular cycle. So it was never a question for me. I used BC because I was looking out for my children years before they were conceived. I didn’t have the luxury to just decide we wanted kids and start trying. I had to wait months before the medications I took were out of my system making my body a safe and healthy place for a child to grow. I would have never forgiven myself if I was unexpectedly pregnant before fully getting off my medications.
      I feel that people that are healthy don’t realize when you are not, you are limited. Like the person you commented below I also had to go through a pregnancy before I had more children to see how my body could handle it. I now have 3 children.
      I see this with many of the NFP comments, that only with NFP can you have true intimacy. I have to disagree. All the things mentioned by the people who choose NFP describe my marriage. Because the things mentioned are part of a healthy relationship. Planning children, making decisions together, finding ways to show love without having sex; are all a part of a healthy relationship and not solely part of a NFP relationship.

  • AHopefulHappenstance

    That is a super interesting pro for nfp. I’m all for it but have used birthcontrol to help with some seriously debilitating periods. But I never ever would have looked at nfp like that but it does make sense! And hizza to you for waiting till marriage! Such a rare occurrence these days!

  • K.M.

    So, do you think that everyone that CAN possibly have children SHOULD have children? I respect your personal choice to use NFP, but it’s interesting that you insinuate that women who choose to use birth control are hurting their marriages, feel “used” by their husbands, etc. Motherhood is not for everyone. Some women choose to NOT become mothers because they have no desire to be one. Some women never feel that urge to have children. So, what’s wrong with birth control in that instance? Is a woman that doesn’t want to be a mother supposed to just risk an unwanted pregnancy?