NFP – Enhancing an appetite for intimacy

| July 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

NFP Awareness Week

To mark Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, July 24-30, The Catholic Spirit is featuring testimony about NFP from two couples and a pastor.

Natural family planning is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies which, in conformity with Catholic teaching, do not involve use of any artificial means of contraception.

For more information about NFP, contact the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life at (651) 291-4488.


By Matt Doffing
For The Catholic Spirit

Matt and Julia Doffing Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

My wife and I had dated for five years by the time I slipped my engagement ring on her finger. It was because of this long wait that when my then-fiancee said, “I think I am going to sign us up for NFP classes,” my heart sank.

I was not at all attracted by what I thought I knew of NFP. It brought to mind thoughts of unwanted abstinence and 10-person families.

Changing attitude

Upon reflection, I found the image I had created of intimacy had been formed by five years of abstinence. It reminds me of this last Thanksgiving, waiting all morning for the delicious smelling meal to be ready. What if someone had tried to tell me then that I could only eat so much of it and only at a specific time?

But then I saw how similar my desire for intimacy was to an appetite. It had that quality of wanting to consume without being hindered. It was equally grudging when someone suggested a limitation. Yet it had a nobler side, one motivated by love that drew me to the life pledge of marriage. This noble side trumped my appetite; my wife would not be a thing I consumed but rather my beloved whom I would serve.

This limitation on intimacy in NFP is also connected to control of reproduction. Did NFP work for those who needed to plan their family?

This worry was laid to rest when I learned how NFP employs a scientific method. The couple collects data and applies principles to inform the decisions they make about intimacy.

Compare this with the uncertainty that hormonal contraceptives create in a woman’s cycle and you have two options: We would either be intimate without knowing if conception was possible or we would know if conception was possible and then decide. I preferred to know and choose rather than letting synthetic hormones decide for us.

Finding fulfillment

The final turning point came after Julia and I were married, when we saw the joy that the mentality of NFP brings. My wife and I began to observe the effects of openness to life in the joy of parents in playing with their kids and in seeing them learn and grow.

I had imagined such a collection of displeasure that I had overlooked altogether the reward of the work. After all, I was willing to bike 10 miles a day to stay in shape or work long hours for my career, but I was not willing to work for another human person. This self-criticism informed my view of children, and I saw that persons are a far more worthwhile thing to suffer for than my own comfort.

My wife and I are now parents of a beautiful baby boy who has brought us more joy than diapers and more fulfillment than sleepless nights.

Matt and Julia Doffing are members of Holy Family in St. Louis Park.

 

By Jay and Lynn Tomaszewski
For The Catholic Spirit

Jay and Lynn Tomaszewski Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

We have been married for seven years, and natural family planning has been an interesting part of our marriage. Neither one of us was familiar with NFP before we took a class as part of our preparation for marriage, and we were amazed to discover the beauty of the natural cycle that God gave women.

It gave us a deeper respect for the human body and made us appreciate God’s design and how he intended things to be. And then we had to put it into practice in our marriage. After our first daughter was born, our cycle returned when she was only 3 months old.

Finding balance

As a husband I, Jay, was drawn to the passage, “Lay down your life for your bride” because I loved the chivalry of it. I always imagined myself saving her from a fire or shooting all the bad guys as they were breaking into our house. I realized years into our marriage that the macho side of that passage has little to do with what it actually means.

Allow me to explain: Nature’s urge to be with your wife is intense, to say the least, which is how it was designed so that we would procreate. At the same time, since virtue always resides in the middle, we can’t satiate every urge we have or we become gluttons.

This means there needs to be some restraint or temperance of our desires. Since this is truly what God wants for us, to be balanced, we need a tool. That tool is NFP.  It has given me the ability to see my wife as much more than a way to fulfill my desires and to lay my desires down for her and for her well-being.

As a wife I, Lynn, wanted to obey my husband and help him become a better man. In the beginning of our marriage, this was not as easily attained as I had imagined — two wills crashing into each other, two different ways of doing everything, two souls trying to unite and both of us struggling to find some common ground.

Looking back, my biggest downfall was not realizing, recognizing and validating my husband’s greatest desire — to be with his wife.  The tool that has helped me understand my husband, and ultimately help him become a better man, is NFP.

With the use of NFP, and the sacrifices that it requires, my admiration for my husband has grown immensely and encouraged me to be a more loving wife.

By using NFP, we constantly have an open dialogue about our needs, wants and emotional struggles throughout our cycle. By doing so, we have found a new level of respect and deep understanding for each other.

This has brought us extremely close, strengthened our love and commitment to one another and also given us a greater desire to bring the other spouse to God’s heavenly kingdom.

Jay and Lynn Tomaszewski are members of Holy Family in St. Louis Park.


Don’t miss

Father Leo Patalinghug of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will present a talk entitled, “Satisfying the Human Appetite in a Natural Way: A Discussion Relating to the Human Hunger in Body, Mind and Spirit ” from 7-9 p.m. July 26 at St. Peter in Mendota.

Cost is $25 per couple, $15 for individuals. For information and to obtain a registration form, call (651) 291-4488, or email schulten@archspm.org.

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Category: The Lesson Plan