Thursday, June 6, 2013

Three Things NFP Has Done for Our Marriage

Last month we celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary! And just this week we celebrated seven years since we first started dating.
Seven years ago during our first summer of dating <3
Seven years is a long time, and I think I love our relationship more today than at any other point in that time. I think I'm pretty blessed to be able to say that, too. There are days or moments where I have to sit down and wonder, "Why do I deserve this?" I haven't figured it out yet, but whatever it is, I know my husband was created for me and vice versa.

One of the best things we ever did for our relationship was switch from contraception to NFP. I think that switch has created permanent guardrails for our marriage so we can avoid many of the ravines other couples fall into. It certainly wasn't something we ever planned for and it meant a lifestyle change for us both, but it was worth it if it meant making our marriage more like what God wants it to be. And as a way to keep my thoughts going in a coherent direction, I've decided to list three things that NFP has done for our marriage, one for each year.

It's Created A New Level of Respect
If NFP does one thing, if applied properly in a marriage, I think it is creating a level of respect that wasn't there before or at least supporting that level of respect on a day-to-day basis. I've heard a lot of women say they don't want their husbands to help them chart because they don't want their husbands to know about their cycles. Yes, pretend they don't exist. I'm sure he'll never notice .... All joking aside, I can't tell you how appreciative I am that Ben knows how my body works as well as I do. A woman's ability to grow a life inside her is incredible and all the functions that support that are equally so. My fertility is not something to be ignored, rejected, or suppressed, but celebrated and worked with.

You also can't help but feel a sense of wonder over the body when you understand how perfectly it was designed and how perfectly they were designed for each other. It helps you look beyond the outer shell and not want any kind of substitute, and goodness knows the world has created a lot of substitutes that have readily been accepted into marriage.

It's Called Us to Be Sacrificial
Though having used both NFP and the pill and not seen a huge increase in difficulty in application (I think the copious amount of benefits far outweighs the few extra steps of NFP), it is a sacrifice-based system since you need to abstain during the fertile periods (about 7-10 days on average) if you want to avoid pregnancy. I'm not sure when marriage became more about what you can get from of another person and less about what you can give another person, but it definitely has in our society. Practicing NFP is a daily reminder that we must make sacrifices for our marriage if we want them to flourish and that translates into more than pregnancy or not. It reminds a spouse that the other person in the marriage is there for more reasons than to satisfy their needs. And it has reminded me to sacrifice in other ways like doing the laundry when he's having a busy/crummy week. Sacrifice is necessary if you want to make a marriage work. Too often people give their worst to their spouse and expect the best in return. No relationship can survive that.

It's Made Our Relationship Less Self-Focused
For us, NFP goes hand in hand with our faith and responsible parenthood, where we are asked to be open to life and pray about God's plan for our family constantly and not just when the prescription for birth control runs out. I've never been the best at prayer. I'm more of a doer, and silence often causes my mind to wander. However, with the daily reminder of the gift of my fertility, I suddenly found I was talking to God more about what His plans were for me. And it wasn't just in relation to children. I was suddenly talking to him about work, family relationships, future goals,  and on and on. Ben and I were also discussing faith more frequently together and getting the opportunity to share with others. It's just made us aware that there's a bigger picture than our individual selves and sometimes that bigger picture is our marriage. I think one of the best examples happened when I found out I was pregnant. I was in a flurry. I couldn't even sit down. And Ben came over to me, grabbed my hand, and pulled me down to sit with him on the couch. He closed his hands around mine and started praying out loud. For him it had become habit to talk to God about new life. It might be one of my most favorite moments ever.

Thank you Benjamin for being the husband God has asked you to be and being willing and open to grow as a couple.
Wedding day :) Photo by Deidre Lynn Photography

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