As you know if you have read my previous post describing what Natural Family Planning is and watched the NFP Informational Video, my wife and I are big proponents of Natural Family Planning. I often cite NFP as one of the best things that has happened to our marriage, so I thought it would be helpful to provide a summary of the marriage benefits of Natural Family Planning to give you more insight into why we feel this way.
First of all, I need to let you know that some of the best benefits that NFP has provided for our relationship have really been intangible. My wife and I have a great deal of peace about our sex life both from an intimacy standpoint and on the moral/religious/spiritual front. And trust me, that’s saying a lot for a young Catholic couple trying to do the right thing.
When we found Natural Family Planning and started using it, we no longer had any of the lingering, often back-of-mind, worries about whether we were harming her health, marginalizing our intimacy, or reducing our sex life to something less than it should be. From the outside, especially from a guy’s perspective, NFP can seem daunting and quite confining. After all, it does require some periods of abstinence and we men aren’t the biggest fans of that idea. Well, I’m here to tell you that after five years of using it, Natural Family Planning represents incredible freedom for our relationship.
Now for some of the more tangible benefits.
Five Benefits of Natural Family Planning for Marriage
1. A Stronger Bond. My wife and I have always been close and shared a special bond. After all, we got married and have been a happy couple for many years. However, when we started learning about Natural Family Planning and then started to put it into practice together, we grew closer on a level that I never knew was there previously.
When you can talk about the intricacies of your wife’s fertility signs (because you’ve bothered to learn them) and interpret those signs by her side (because you really care), you have a good bond. And when you do this day-after-day and month-after-month through challenging times and in the face of cynical friends (and even family), you have an incredibly close bond that only you can share. And when you come to the realization that sex truly is intended to be a religious experience (and you have experienced that way), you have formed a bond that you actually didn’t know was possible. You just don’t get that from a condom.
2. Open Communication. Listen, I have talked to my wife routinely about basal body temperatures and cervical mucus. And not in the super sexy, erotic way that you must be thinking (that was a joke, just to be clear). No, I am confident that I have more knowledge of the female fertility cycle than five generations of my forefathers combined.
Who cares? My wife. She knows that I care about her body, her sexuality and her soul because we routinely communicate about it. You cannot effectively practice Natural Family Planning without improving the level of communication in your marriage. It’s part and parcel, and it is one of the sweetest benefits of the process.
I simply cannot imagine a more intimate and sacred topic of conversation than that of fertility and the willingness to accept children (or not). My wife and I have these discussions on a regular basis, and it has made us excellent communicators in all aspects of our marriage.
3. Mutual Decision Making. When we decide if we are going to have sex during the “transitional” times between fertility phases, it is a complete and total mutual decision. It really cannot be one-sided and it requires open communication.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times throughout each month where total spontaneity are possible…and fantastic. But there are those times where we have to think together and reach important mutual decisions. For us, this ability to make decisions together has enhanced everything from our finances to our parenting skills.
4. Raises Appreciation of Intimacy. This one rocks. We used birth control for the first four years of our marriage, and we thought we were getting all that we could out of our sex life. We were wrong.
With the introduction of Natural Family Planning, the intimacy in our marriage (both inside and outside of the bedroom) achieved entirely new levels. It wasn’t that things were all that different physically, but they were worlds better emotionally and spiritually. Through our decision to try NFP, our NFP training and especially in our daily use of Natural Family Planning, we have definitely learned an entirely different appreciation for sex and intimacy.
Oh, and the “honeymoon effect” after the brief periods of abstinence each month is pretty sweet, too.
5. Marriage Insurance. I think this term really sums up the value of all the other benefits in a very real and tangible way. I’ll let the statistics speak for themselves:
The divorce rate for couples practicing Natural Family Planning is less than 5%. For the general population, it is nearly 50%.
I hope this post helps to provide some insight into why I am so comfortable telling others that Natural Family Planning is the best thing that has happened to our marriage. There is much more to this story, and we’ll get there with time.
For now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Do you practice NFP? Have you even heard of it before this post (or before finding Engaged Marriage)? What problems/challenges do you think you would have if you tried it? This topic is a passion of mine, and I really want to hear from you.
Photo by pedrosimoes7