NFP: how far

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roemer

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For some reason, I thought that the question that plagued me as a teenager and 20 something, and even a thirty something would go away after I got married. As the song goes, " I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking…" Anyway, we’ve been married a dozen years and still don’t know how far is too far when practicing NFP. I know the obvious and most intense is wrong, but what about before ? The only answers I have come accross have been too vague or sophisticated for me to understand.
Thanks
 
“How far can you/ did you /would you /does she go ?” is the classic , if not especially articulate, phrasing of the question about acceptable paramaters of inter-gender tactile behaviour.
If you’ve never heard the question before, you have led a wonderously good life.
 
With us there is a point at which it becomes ‘impossible’ to stop.
Our solution is to stop before we get there. :cool:
Don’t know how else to phrase it since I am sure it is different for each couple. :confused:
 
Don’t read this if you are underage please…

The context is very different in a marriage. The married couple is not at all bound to the same type of chastity that applies to a dating couple. A married couple can also engage in intimate activities that do not result in intercourse. I would say, you obviously do not want to stimulate each other to the point of orgasm because such activity is mastrubatory in nature and is not within the context of an act of marital intercourse. You also want to avoid arousing each other to the point that one might be tempted to commit an act of masturbation.

Even if a married couple practicing NFP gets carried away and completes intercourse, this is not a sin. It is good and wonderful.

You may find that it is easier to not “start going down the road” if you both want to avoid pregnancy. But if you do go and engage in some “preliminary” type activities it is not immoral.

When in doubt ask a good priest!
 
My husband and I struggle with this continuously. At some point, things go too far to turn back. While we know this isn’t sexually sinful (within the confines of marraige!), is it sinful in the fact that we have a large family and do not feel now would be a good time to conceive for the good of our family? We don’t rule it out in the future…“just not this month”. Would you look at that as God at work, knowing more than we know…or irresponsible on our part in terms of self-control and not looking out for our God-given blessings in terms of our limits emotionally, physically, and financially??
Just curious…:confused:
 
I would view that as God’s work. This is the way God designed the marriage. Certainly, with good reason, one can suppress these desires during the most fertile times. I disagree that when you and your husband “can’t turn back” it is in any way sinful. Yes, you may have good reason for postponing the next baby. But maybe God, has a better reason for NOT postponing the next baby! 🙂

I don’t think it’s irresponsible at all and certainly not sinful in any way!
 
I’m not a moral theologian and I’m not really a big advocate of NFP. By that I do not mean that I approve of contraception. I do not. It is a grave evil and one responsible for many spiritual and social ills. (The vocations dearth is just one.) In any case, my own opinion is that NFP (like breastfeeding) can become a religion unto itself, or at least a case in which we miss the forest for the trees. My view is really very simple: Married couples who are in love make love often, and it is good for children to be born to parents who love each other so tenderly and yes, passionately. Couple to Couple League (www.ccli.org) has a brief pamphlet on Marital Chastity, which specifically takes up the question (in the fullness of detail that you are seeking) of what sort of “sexually arousing behavior” is permissible during periods of NFP-prescribed abstinence. I encourage you to get it, read it, talk to a good orthodox confessor, put its advice into practice, and then put your mind and heart at rest. Part of the abstinence period of NFP, as I understand it, is to cultivate marital affections other than physical ones.

Finally, I also encourage you to put the charts and thermometers in a drawer and just enjoy your marriage and all the children God is going to send you. He will take care of them and you if you let Him.

Oremus Pro Invicem

Chris
 
I tend to agree with Chris. I have been involved in close circles of the NFP practice and lifestyle and my understanding of it has evolved. I am rather strict in interpretting serious reasons for avoiding pregnancy. Yes, we must be responsible, however in our culture and society most of us, if reasonably healthy, are equipped to care for another child, should God send one, and He always supplies the graces necessary!

As for the question that began the thread, any act that ends in a climax that ‘spills the seed’ would be sinful, I believe. If a couple has gone that far, they ought to “properly” complete the conjugal act. Also, as mentioned above, anything that would be masturbatory in nature is wrong.
 
:twocents: The following is a reprint from my post at Searching for saint(s) of mothers-to-be thread. I am trying to spread the word on NFP. Email me questions if you have any.
+++
Congratulations! My Patron Saint List for Pregnant women are listed below but I MUST address the NFP issue. Such a shame that your wife is unwilling to explore the benefits of NFP. I have been using it for 2 years (since I got married, I’m 36) and I have many friends who have used it for much longer. Many secular, generally holistic women who use NFP are scared of the harmful, physical long term effects of Birth Control Pills (there are many) on women and disgusted by the supposed “authoritative-all knowing” advertising factory of the profit driven pharmaceutical industry. :mad: Yet these 18-34 year old hippies insist on a full-proof method of planning conception. Also, when done correctly, many NFP systems are conducted daily with BOTH the Husband and the Wife, NFP increases communication between spouses and enhances the Marital Bond.

NFP is not the Rhythm Method

Please take time to look up these websites below. Call (your local diocese NFP director) -tell her you’d like info, your wife is currently not interested in NFP and she’s pregnant.
Please take the initiative and approach your wife, after the birth, with a gentle request… Honey, lets talk about NFP…
One More Soul omsoul.com/
Billing Ovulation Method woomb.org/
Fitch Fertility Center www.nfpcenter.com

Contact me if you wish. My husband will be happy to tell you about our NFP experiences.
Why oh WHY don’t Diocese REQUIRE NFP training during PreCana I’ll never know…. :banghead:

Don’t forget to ask your Priest or Deacon to bless your wife before childbirth (short or long formulary)

Here’s my list of Patron Saints for Pregnant woman. Check out their stories at catholic-forum.com/saints/indexsnt.htm
Mary, Queen of All Saints-Hey if you were giving birth to God….
St. Anne, mother of Mary
St Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mom
Sarah –old test.-she laughed when she heard she’d be pregnant at 90!
Rachel-old test
St Anthony of Padua
St Colette- Patroness of Childless Couples, Intercessor for Expectant Mothers, Friend of Sick Children
St Margaret the Virgin Martyr

Lastly, ask St Dymphna to intercede on behalf of your expanding family. She is the Patron Saint of Mental Illness.
scborromeo.org/prayers/dymphna.htm
 
I would like to know how many people hear has ever heard a sermon preached on the benefits and/or church teaching of NFP. I have always been very curious as to why is avoided like the plague. We just had a big push on tithing in our church, but never have I ever (and I am in my 40s) have I heard a sermon on this issue.

I also have one other question. I struggle with NFP, I have learned Billings Ovulation which I find very effective, but I find it very difficult, mentally, that the only family planning permitted by the Catholic church is one that prohibits intercourse (if not wanting/ready for a child) at the time when women’s desire is usually at its peak. Since my husband and I are both in our forties, I can honestly say we are maxed out with our very demanding three. I realize it’s not eight or twelve, but this is what we can emotionally handle. Is there ever a time, really, when NFP is about avoiding having children, not planning more children?
 
I like your question because it’s something my wife and I have struggled with at times as well. If NFP is used to avoid pregnancy for selfish reasons, it can be sinful.

However, the Catechism states somewhere (I’m still trying to locate the section again) that married couples can have legitimate reasons for avoiding pregnancy. I recall one of the reasons being the health of the mother (both physically and mentally/emotionally).

AusTex
 
I guess what it comes down to is what constitutes selfish (or perhaps grave) reasons. I was horribly ill with my second and third child for about five months each, and I’m not even sure I could take care of my other three if I tried to have a fourth. Should you should continue having children until you are emotionally/physically burnt out? And unless you want to continue having children at 44 or 48, etc (unless you are Tony Randall!) there must be a point in most people’s lives where they do use NFP as an avoidance rather than as a postponement. Not only will you have the love to raise this child, but will you have the energy? With prayer, I guess most couples need to decide this for themselves.
 
Mary Beth said: (sorry, I can’t really figure out how to use the “quote” thing correctly!)

I also have one other question. I struggle with NFP, I have learned Billings Ovulation which I find very effective, but I find it very difficult, mentally, that the only family planning permitted by the Catholic church is one that prohibits intercourse (if not wanting/ready for a child) at the time when women’s desire is usually at its peak.

**I have always had the same question. NFP works because God designed women to be fertile only at certain times, but… He also designed women to most desire closeness at the time of ovulation. It never did seem to me to fit, either! I would really appreciate an answer on that one, too! The only answer I can think of is that NFP requires sacrifice especially on the wife’s part (although it is not easy on the husband to have to postpone closeness to his wife when she wants it most, too!) because she has to skip intercourse when she most desires it. I suppose she can pray for increased desire in the non-fertile times, but it would be nice if the body wasn’t working against NFP in that way!

I’d appreciate anyone else’s thoughts!

God bless,
Sharon
 
Are you really a mom of 8?? Wow!!!

Personally, I don’t think NFP requires a special sacrifice on the woman’s part. Yes, I tend to be more desirous during the fertile phase, but it’s not exclusive to then! 😉 I think it’s a bigger sacrifice on my husband’s part, who has equal desire all the time (well, not exactly, but you know what I mean!) to have to abstain at–to his body–random times.

I understand the objection to NFP. Some people do become a slave to it, and use it just like artificial birth control. I understand that. But we have a limited amount of money and resources, and can’t just trust providentialism (complete openness to life all the time).

Maybe we just don’t trust God enough. He always does provide!

But I am a Catholic school teacher, and we have 5 already, on a small small salary. My husband works an hour and a half away to make enough money to take care of us, and it’s not like we live in luxury!! We don’t even have cable tv!! 😉 Anyhow. I just feel sure I’d be pregnant every time, if we didn’t abstain at certain times.

I agree that it is hard to know where to draw the line at those times. We struggle with that a great deal at times. Sometimes it seems like all-or-nothing is the answer…but within a good marriage, I don’t think so! Really, if that’s the struggle we have to deal with…well, it could be worse!! 😉
 
You should be discussing NFP with your priest during confession. When I got engaged, I asked my confessor if, in my situation, if I could use NFP.
I did not want my perceived ‘need’ with a personal want, which may be disordered and contrary to the will of God 🙂

A good priest, in persona Christi, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through your honesty, humility and charity, will assist you in your decision.

This is a perfect example of why confession is important and how sacraments work in our daily lives. 👍
 
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mel:
My husband and I struggle with this continuously. At some point, things go too far to turn back. While we know this isn’t sexually sinful (within the confines of marraige!), is it sinful in the fact that we have a large family and do not feel now would be a good time to conceive for the good of our family? We don’t rule it out in the future…“just not this month”. Would you look at that as God at work, knowing more than we know…or irresponsible on our part in terms of self-control and not looking out for our God-given blessings in terms of our limits emotionally, physically, and financially??
Just curious…:confused:
I can’t speak for others but I would look at it as God working and knowing more than we do. I have an example in my own marriage. Please remember this is before we were good practicing Catholics. LOL I was on the pill(what was I thinking) and got pregnant, I was still haveing my cycle and only found out by accident when I went to the er and the dr wouldn’t do an xray without a pregnancy test. Thank God he did it. I was scared to tell my husband because we could barely make our bills and be comfortable too. We actually contimplated adoption, but then he said I would have to have my tubes tied because we couldn’t have another child if we couldn’t afford this one. We prayed and decided to make the best of it. God knows what he is doing, Ryan got on a shift at work that made things easier and he ended up getting a cost of living increase in his pay. This last fall he got a promotion, so God knows what we need and what we can handle(even if it’s not what we think).And the babyis our pride and joy, well one of them. If you just invite Him in when you are intiment with your husband God will make sure you are taken care of. I understand how scary it is to hand things over to God, at least it was for us and still is in some things, but it is so worth it. God bless you for having the strength not to do the easy thing and use birth control.

PS
This fall we will try for a baby, just goes to show that our plans don’t always work out how we expect them to.
 
Bear in mind that the reason the Church as allowed the use of NFP is because modern methods have allowed a couple to simply have more information at their disposal to discern the greater question: Do we have a “serious” reason to postpone.

The Church is rightfully generous in the discernment of what “serious” means, for it may vary widely from couple to couple. I think many who have posted here would agree that what is “serious” for a certain time, my later, upon looking back, have seemed frivolous. Why? Because as Christians we are growing closer to God, we hope, and as we get closer to God our appreciation for the beauty and value of LIFE, God’s great gift to us all, is expanded and deepened.

There are times when the thought of another child gives chills to a woman, and makes her stomach hurt…that is a good “thumbnail” sign that it is a “serious reason”. That fear may be well founded, it may not, but only spiritual growth can offer the prospective we need to find that out.

Most of the couples we teach NFP, if they are coming off contraception, rethink what the serious reasons really were when they decided to use contraception. That is one of the greatest problems with contraception, it blocks our spiritual view, and places a spiritual barrier between the couple. It is kind of a joke around our circle of friends…how many children have come into this world as a result of our classes.
 
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