A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Tag: sex

Why I Don’t Use Contraception: A Man’s Perspective

The Catholic belief on birth control is a tough pill to swallow (pun intended). Since I’m a man I often get a look of disbelief when people learn that my wife and I don’t use contraception.

“You really believe in no birth control?”, they say. “Are you planning to have 20 kids?”  “I have a friend who’s Catholic and his wife is on the pill.”

Unfortunately, these reactions are the norm (the last one kills me). This is probably in part because according to a study in 2014, 78% of Catholics disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Despite being in the minority, Nicole and I don’t use contraception. Per the guidance of the Church we have chosen to be open to all that God has to offer, including however many children He wants to bless us with. We want our marriage to match the kind of love God has for us–a love that is free, total, faithful, fruitful (a.k.a., the four components of God’s love for us).

So what do we do, just roll the dice every time we want to get down?

Nope.

Nicole and I use Natural Family Planning, something we have written about here before. So why not contraception? Beyond the Church’s wisdom on this teaching, I thought I should summarize a few reasons why I don’t use contraception and instead choose to use NFP as our method of family planning.

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This Pregnancy Announcement Parody is AMAZING

In a world where it’s frowned upon to have more than two kids, Chad and Andrea Chapman rub their not-so-traditional family choices in everyone’s face, and I ADORE IT! They are expecting baby number four, and they want everyone to know: “It’s our family; we can do what we want to.”

The couple created this hilarious Miley Cyrus parody video, called “We Can’t Stop . . . Having Babies.” And the subtle, (or not so subtle line) “It’s my body I can grow who I want to” is genius! This lyric turns the typical pro-choice argument of “it’s my body” and “my choice” on its head.

Congrats to you, Chad and Andrea. Bring on those babies!

5 Books Every Married Couple Should Read

Whether you’re preparing for the vocation of marriage or have been married for decades, there are a few books that I think every couple must read. I’ve read these marriage books over the last couple years and they have not only inspired me in learning how to love my husband better but have also helped me navigate my way through murky waters when times get tough…and we all experience times like that.

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The Meaning of Marriage – A Response to TIME’s The Childfree Life

Recently Time Magazine came out with a cover story, “The Childfree Life”, which has generated lots of controversy. While I could add to the conversation by inserting my own opinion, this is not the time for that because ultimately it isn’t really about whether or not a person wants children. When opinions and emotions are striped away from this debate, we find we are left with more than simply a difference in lifestyle choice. We are looking at a difference in core philosophy–a philosophy of our whole understanding of the meaning of marriage.

What is the purpose of marriage?

As my fiancé and I count down the days til our nuptials, we are not only excited for the wedding day; we are excited for the a lifetime together. More specifically, we are thrilled to fulfill our vocational call to marriage. As we see it, there are two reasons people can and should get married.

Marriage is unitive. We love each other so much we are choosing to spend the rest of our lives together (all of it…the ups, downs, heartaches and joys). When we say our marriage vows we are committing ourselves to one another, no matter how difficult it will prove to be at times. Why? We want to spend the rest of our lives helping each other become the best people we can be. Aside from helping one another grow, marriage is uniting with another person in the deepest sense of the word. It is the journey of two becoming one – intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Human beings are made for community, more so we are made for companionship. This intimate companionship can be found in marriage.

Marriage is meant to be procreative. Marriage finds its culmination in the procreation and rearing of children. Marriage is so much more than Patrick and I’s love for one another. Yes that is part of it and a crucial one at that, but getting married without the intention to have children is like stopping short of home base. Love is to be shared and propagated. Marriage will be difficult. There is no denying that. It will take a lifetime to learn and cultivate true selflessness. I fully expect that there will be many times when Pat will irritate and annoy me, but what better reminder would I have of my call to love him than my children? Just in case I ever forget why I love Pat, children will be a continuous reminder of the love we share — a mini me in the next room ramming his toy trucks into the wall.

You see, marriage is not an end in itself. Marriage is the foundation for a life full of opportunities for continual selflessness. This self-giving will be perpetuated in parenthood when our days will be drenched with moments to take care of another, a child who cannot take care of himself. These are opportunities over and over again to step outside of our own selfish world and care for another. This is the point of marriage as we see it. Others may disagree, exclaiming that marriage has a singular purpose–to be committed to another person and enjoy life’s many blessings. To those of you out there we don’t disagree, but joy and happiness for us is not the end goal. The fulfillment of our marriage will be in our selfless choices to love each other and our family.

Natural Family Planning: What’s Your Model?

As Natural Family Planning week draws to a close, I feel it’s important to distinguish between a few of the methods available.  Since Patrick and I are preparing for our wedding day, we decided that it is important for both of us to understand my fertility so that we can together make responsible parenting decisions.

NFP offers a few different methods available to those looking for an alternative to birth control. I’ve laid out a brief description of the methods I am personally familiar with; Creighton Model and Symto-Thermal. I am also aware of the Marquette Method, but since I have no personal experience with that method I will leave the description to its experts.

SEE ALSO: Going All Natural: 7 Reasons I Use NFP

Creighton Model

Natural Family Planning - Creighton Model

Sample Creighton Model Chart

The Creighton Model Fertility Care System (CrMS.) was introduced by Dr. Thomas Hilgers and fittingly named after where his research is based in Omaha, Nebraska. This is not your grandmother’s rhythm method. It involves tracking a woman’s vaginal mucus every day, every time you use the bathroom. A women’s time of fertility is determined by the mucus’s color, stretchability, and sensation.

The advantages are numerous. It is effective for any women’s cycle; regular or not so regular. It is inexpensive, running around $40 each time I visit my practitioner. Initially, I was setting up appointments with her more regularly in order to learn this method. Now that I’ve had some practice, I usually schedule a visit once or twice a year just to check in with her.  This is much cheaper than birth control, which depending on your insurance coverage can cost up to $50 a month. Yikes…I’d rather spend that money going out to dinner with my husband.

Another advantage to using this method is that it seems more and more doctors are becoming familiar with it. Therefore, they can offer advice on any potential concerns there might be. This method can help you both achieve and avoid pregnancy.

Sympto-Thermal Method

Sympto thermal sample chart

Sample Sympto-Thermal Chart

Sympto-Thermal is another popular method used. STM was first organized in 1971. It combines the cervical mucus observations as popularized by Dr. Billings, the basal body temperature observations noted in the 1930s by Rev. Wilhelm Hillebrand and adds the optional observation of cervical position. In charting these three primary signs of fertility, a couple can determine their fertile and infertile times.

A woman practicing the STM model takes her temp with a basal thermometer at the same time every morning before getting up and beginning her day. (I like this 3M thermometer because it is cheap and continues beeping at the end) Throughout the day, she tracks her mucus pattern similar to Creighton just not as in-depth. She and her husband then use signs from both her mucus pattern and temperature to determine which phase she is in; pre-peak, peak phase or post-peak and base their parenting decisions off of this knowledge.

Interested? Want to know more?

This is a very high-level overview of two of the most popular methods of Natural Family Planning. I realize there are other methods out there, but again since I’ve personally had no experience with them I leave it to others to explain. If you have questions, I recommend asking your local Catholic diocese or contacting one of the organizations below.

Do you use STM or the Creighton Model? What do you like about it? What do you hate? Tell us about it!

http://www.creightonmodel.com

http://ccli.org

www.nfpandme.com

iusenfp.com

Going All Natural: 7 Reasons NFP is for Me

Pat and I have been knee deep in wedding planning.  After weeks and weeks of searching online, calling people, leaving messages and setting up times to visit we can finally rest in the fact that progress has been made. We have a church, a priest, a DJ, a photographer and yes FINALLY…we have a venue. Cue the hallelujahs and heavenly hymns.

Just as every good Catholic couple planning their nuptials, we have recently begun our Natural Family Planning classes.

Contrary to many who might feel uneasy or uncomfortable in a situation like this, Pat and I were rather excited to begin learning about NFP. I mean, after all, we get to talk about sex and what could be bad about that?

Aside from the fact that artificial contraception directly goes against our moral beliefs, we were looking forward to all the positives of going all-natural on this one. Positives? Like what you ask.

While there are plenty of people who know a whole lot more about this Natural Family Planning than I do…here are a few of the reasons I am stoked to get to it naturally.

1. I’m marrying for keeps.

I’m not sure about you, but I plan on this whole wedding/marriage being a one-time thing. Just as the countless others who take that leap of faith and walk down the aisle I hope and pray for a joyful, fulfilling and life-giving marriage. I want Pat to always cherish and love me in the way he does now. Likewise, I hope to always respect and honor Pat as my husband just as I strive to now. From all that I’ve read and heard about NFP I can only conclude that this type of family planning will support our hopes for marriage as this method promotes conversation between spouses about the future of their family.

2. Why pay for sex?

Simply stated, depending on the method you use NFP is free once you’ve learned the basics. I’m choosing to work with my body’s natural fertility to either postpone or plan a pregnancy. No trips to CVS to fill a prescription and pick up some condoms. I don’t know about you but a shopping spree sounds much more appealing to me than buying rubbers.

3. I’m going green.

I’ve never been one to jump on the bandwagon, but when it comes to personal health I’m on board. For all you vegans, vegetarians, carnivores or whatever else floats your boat…take a look at NFP.

A recent blog I stumbled upon (www.iusenfp.com) gives a good explanation of some of the harms associated with hormonal contraceptives. “One of the active ingredients in most hormonal contraceptives is estrogen which has been classified by the World Health Organization as a Class 1 carcinogen. What’s a Class 1 carcinogen, you ask? It’s a chemical with sufficient evidence proving its carcinogenicity to humans. Other chemicals that share this distinction are arsenic, asbestos, silica dust, and tobacco. Another chemical that is in Depo-Provera (the shot) is depo-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) which has been linked with a 2.2 increase in breast cancer.

4. It works.

That’s right folks Natural Family Planning is not the rhythm method your grandmother used in the 1930s and 1940s. NFP works with all women’s cycles: irregular or not. In fact compared to other popular forms of birth control NFP does quite well in measures of effectiveness. NFP measures at a 99% effectiveness rate comparing with the Pill at 99% and condoms at 97%.

Now, of course, it must be stated that these measures of effectiveness are based on proper use.

If you forget to talk the Pill one day and have sex you are taking a chance with pregnancy.

If a condom breaks or you choose not to use one, you are taking a chance.

Likewise, if your charting at peak ovulation time and decide to have sex, you are taking a chance.

SEE ALSO: Natural Family Planning: How to choose your method?

5. Why kill the mo-jo?

The answer is I don’t. According to its own warning label, the Pill can cause a decrease in a women’s libido, leading her to lose interest in sex altogether. Don’t believe me just research it yourself. Countless sources repeat this over and over again. http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20326842,00.html

I use NFP - Kill libido

6. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I don’t view my fertility as a problem to be fixed or an illness to be cured. Obviously, I’m a woman and just as all women I was created with ovaries. These ovaries of mine seem to work just fine so can someone please tell me why I would want to mess with my body if it is working just as it was created to work?

While maybe not today at some point in the future I would like to have children with this man I’m about to marry. So I personally would prefer not to mess with my fertility. This way when we do want to start a family there is nothing stopping us. Natural Family Planning is 100% reversible. On any given month Pat and I will be able to decide whether to postpone our family or get to making babies. On the other hand most hormonal birth control recommends that you stop use 3-4 months before you desire to get pregnant. 3-4 months and that is assuming all goes according to plan.

7. I snagged a stud like Pat by staying away from the Pill.

I realize that this final point doesn’t directly relate to why I’ve chosen to use NFP. However, it does reinforce my decision to keep in natural. A short video chalked full of interesting info. Enjoy!

Intrigued? Read more about Natural Family Planning:

http://IuseNFP.com

http://www.janetesmith.com

http://nfpsite.aldred.org

http://americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/fertilityawarenessNFP.html

http://www.ccli.org/nfp/

http://nfp.marquette.edu

http://www.creightonmodel.com/

Wikipedia on NFP

Photos credited to IuseNFP.com