Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2006
Couples build a nurturing bond of intimacy naturally
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Abstinence is the word that turns most people off Natural Family Planning (NFP). Most Catholics, if they think of NFP at all, think only of those three troubling words: "Not tonight, dear."
But as author Fletcher Doyle has found, NFP is more than a means of regulating birth. "NFP is first a means of building communication, affection, respect and a sense of joyful freedom in a couple's sexual relationship."
Fletcher, a copy editor in the sports department of the Buffalo News, is the author of the newly released book Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage. The book explains why NFP is better than contraception and tells the stories of 19 couples who say NFP not only helped them plan their families but also improved their marriages.
Study of fertility
"NFP is really a study of fertility in which a couple learns the workings of their reproductive systems," Doyle says. "Acquiring this knowledge can bring about profound changes in the way people view their bodies and the bodies of their spouses."
Many couples in Doyle's book speak of a renewed grace in their lives when they made the switch from contraceptives to NFP.
"Through NFP the Holy Spirit strengthens our conviction and inspires us to wholeheartedly welcome God's presence in our marriage," says Michael and Christine Montone, who in the past had used artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy. "He has shaped our heartfelt sorrow over our fornication and our use of artificial contraception into the resolve to share our experience with others, so that they might be spared the mistakes we've made."
Erin and Drew MacNichol didn't learn about NFP until they were married 22 years, were in their 40s, had four boys and considered their family complete.
"We have been using NFP for about a year now and it's added a wonderful dimension to our marriage," Erin said. "It's been sacrifice and a challenge at times, but I feel that our relationship has grown and we have become closer and more open."
In the book Fletcher, who converted to Catholicism in 1997, describes the Church's stance on contraception and abortion and explains the many benefits of NFP, including the fact it strengthens marriage and makes couples live in a way that is fully pro-life.
Doyle, 52, said the purpose of his book is to provide answers about NFP so more Catholics can feel confident in using NFP in their marriages.About four per cent of Catholics in the United States practise NFP.
Doyle and his wife Tracy have been married for 26 years and have two children. They began practising NFP more than six years ago and Doyle said it made their good marriage even better. He wrote the book in gratitude to God and to make others aware of something good that's not very well publicized.
The periods of abstinence required during NFP use turn off many men, but Doyle says the wait is compensated by a honeymoon period when it is over.
It's not easy
"I'm not going to lie to you; it's not easy but here is what you have to remember: you have to think what is my spouse for? Is my spouse just for my own relief or is my spouse somebody to love? And if you really love this person it's worth waiting for."
The divorce rate among NFP users is about five per cent, about one-tenth the rate of the general population.
Any surprises? "I was surprised that secular social sciences were so strong in their opinions about the negative effect on society and on women of hormonal birth control," Doyle said.
Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage is available at Universal Church Supplies and St. John of God Bookstore in Edmonton.