Years ago, right before I got married, my grandmother and great aunt were having a conversation about their children, all born in the forties and fifties, and their long marriages. They each had five children and part of their discussions included, “Right before I had my third,” or “Then came number five.” I naively asked, “So, how did you plan your pregnancies and how did you space your kids like tha…?” I was interrupted by chuckles. “PLAN? What do you mean by plan? We just had them when they came!”
I thought to myself, “Wow! They just had them? What about spacing? What about being able to afford them? What about…?” I had been so programmed to believe that we should have control over our childbearing. It was our right to plan, because there are so many things to consider when having children. But these women, whom I respected and loved, were perfectly happy. I saw no regret or angst during the discussion, because having children was a natural thing to them.
Shortly after the conversation, I went to the doctor and she asked “What are you planning in regards to birth control?” Oh! I have to have a plan? I thought about this and walked away from the doctor’s appointment with a prescription in hand and the worrisome idea that I had better start planning. This was such a heavy burden. I was getting married soon and I thought we could just love each other without worry, but apparently not.
Society dictates that we plan these things, but getting pregnant should be in God’s time–that was certainly the natural progression of things. I was so confused. Desperately wanting a sign, I looked across the lobby of the doctor’s office and there was a sign—an actual sign that read: CREIGHTON OVULATION METHOD CLASSES STARTING SOON. There it was: my plan! I crumbled up the prescription and tossed it in the trash.
In the life of husband and wife together, fatherhood and motherhood represent such a sublime “novelty” and richness as can only be approached “on one’s knees.” – Pope John Paul II
I had listened to my grandmother and aunt talk about the rhythm method, but this was different. I called my husband-to-be and told him I signed up for some classes for us. He asked, “Do I have to go? Isn’t it just for the woman?” I told him the flyer said it was for couples, so he happily agreed, because husbands-to-be are extremely agreeable creatures.
We began the classes and little did we expect we would learn so much! We learned about biology, about intimacy, about communication…we learned about God’s PLAN for us. These are the ingredients of a good, successful marriage. I know exactly how my body works and I am constantly in awe of the mechanisms that God created, and it is all within God’s plan.
What a liberating feeling to know that we could trust God’s PLAN with this aspect of marriage. We know each other on an extremely intimate level. We show each other affection in so many more ways than just sex, because with NFP, respect is essential. Certainly, respect within marriage is part of God’s plan for families, and we have to become humble and trust in God’s plan. We control only what is natural and do not have to resort to that which is artificial or destructive, which would permeate into the emotional aspects of our marriage. In keeping with God’s plan, we have longevity in our marriage and three lovely children who came along in God’s time. Above all else, NFP has released us from the burden of “playing God” with our fertility. God never meant for us to take that upon ourselves and we are happier for it.
Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.