As promised, I’d like to introduce you to a young couple that uses natural family planning. For a project I did on natural family planning over the summer, I interviewed Dustin and Bethany from Glen Carbon, IL. Dustin is creator of a great blog called Engaged Marriage. Here are some excerpts from our interview:
Dustin and Bethany have been married for 10 years. Dustin, 32, is an engineer and creator of engagedmarriage.com, a blog about marriage and parenthood. Bethany, 30, is a stay at home mom. For the first few years of their marriage, the couple used the pill. After discovering NFP online and delving more deeply into their Catholic faith, they stopped using contraceptives in favor of NFP. They have three children: 6-year-old Braden, 4-year-old Kendall and 1-year-old Avery.
A: Why did you decide to use NFP?
B: When we were first married, we were using the pill and we were very, very uncomfortable with it.
D: But we honestly thought there were no alternatives. (When) we decided we wanted to have our first child, we were looking for ways to make sure we would get pregnant on our schedules. We’re both planners. We discovered (NFP) on the internet. The first month we were using it, we got pregnant. We’ve been using it (to achieve and avoid pregnancies) for six years.
A: What models of NFP have you used?
D: We started off using (a symptothermal model) and in the last six months or so, we’ve been using the Marquette model. When you introduce technology like the fertility monitor, it makes our generation comfortable. It’s just easier. If you’re not comfortable with all these different signs, all you really gotta do is pee on a stick.
A: In what ways is using NFP different for you than using contraceptives?
B: Our sex life is much improved. (So is) the quality of our intimacy. I would never go back (to contraceptives), ever.
D: (On the pill), you can have sex whenever you want. It sounds great, but looking back, it wasn’t great physically, spiritually or emotionally. Now, (sex is) more like a form of communication. Once you experience the difference, most people wouldn’t go back.
B: NFP wants you to have lots of good sex. It (respects) the woman and her gift of fertility. How amazing is it that the love between the two of us can create a whole ‘nother person? NFP promotes life and intimacy and communication.
D: Contraception implies you should always be able to have sex whenever you want it, that it’s purely recreation. You’re able to exclude creation from (sex) at will. The Catholic Church teaches that it’s ok to have sex when you’re not fertile, (but) it’s not ok to turn off your own fertility.
A: What are the pros of NFP?
B: Becoming familiar with my own fertility has been a big benefit for me. My cycles are never regular, (but) we’re able to manage that. It also brings us closer. We have to talk.
D: Communication is a big one. We see lots of benefits: Appreciation of intimacy. We don’t take (sex) for granted. It’s a lot deeper for us now that we practice NFP. It’s a big thing for us that (Bethany’s) not on artificial hormones. (And for) people who use NFP, the divorce rate is less than five percent.
A: And the cons?
B and D: Abstinence! (laughs)
D: It may be your tenth anniversary and you may not get to enjoy that the way you’d like. You may have to abstain longer than you’d like when your cycle gets disrupted for whatever reason.
B: Doctors can be very un-supportive. In the span of 20 minutes, my (former) doctor asked me five times if I wanted to be on the pill.
D: (The doctor said) you can call it hormone therapy if you don’t want to call it birth control.
B: It was frustrating. He didn’t understand, and that’s disappointing.
A: Have any of your pregnancies been unplanned?
D: We planned all three of our children. We’ve not had any unplanned pregnancies. If you follow the rules, it’s the same as condoms or birth control.