Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way

11. We Didn't Want to Say "NO" to Each Other: Michael and Marilyn

Mike: We both went through Catholic grade school, Catholic High School, and then chose Catholic College; so we were brought up as Catholics and it was very important for us to do things as Catholics should. We married in 1966, after graduating from college.

One of the first choices we had to make was the question of birth control. In 1966 there were two possibilities open to us as I recall; one was the pill, the other was rhythm. Our conscience told us that the pill is not for us, so we decided instead to try rhythm. And that is exactly what we did for the next several years: we tried it, very sporadically. And so by 1970 we had three children. Then we decided that we had better figure something else out. Although we love children, we didn't quite figure that we should have so many in so short a period of time.

Marilyn: Mike's father is one of 18 children; and my mother is one of 8; so after we had the 4th child, we realized that this could go on and on .... I remember one night Mike and me sitting down and wondering why rhythm didn't work for us. And why I was saying no to Mike only because I was afraid to become pregnant.

At that point in my life I wanted never to say no to Mike. I wanted our relationship to be so close and saying no should never be a part of that. We had a beautiful marriage; people used to come up and say to us that we had such a terrific marriage. We really relished in one another; we loved one another so much and we wanted to be one. And yet it was like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea because on the one hand we wanted so much to be lovers, and on the other I was saying no to Mike constantly because I was afraid to have a baby.

We decided then, in 1970, to use the diaphragm. We reasoned that I would then never ever have an excuse to say no out of fear of pregnancy. It seemed -intellectually - that this would work, that it was a good thing for us as a couple. We could then have what we thought was the totality of relationship: we could have intercourse every night if we wanted.

So we thought; but there were those little gnawings. Our innermost core is Catholic, as we said. Using a diaphragm was going contrary to that. There was something inside which said: "There has to be more than just this."

Mike: It was disturbing for us to discover that we were not peaceful now. We had asked ourselves how we could find peace; we chose this method to find it; yet peace was not ours. For the next several years we struggled tremendously; we more or less intellectualized, saying, "This is great, not saying no to each other; we must love each other very much." We went through this for two or three years, fooling ourselves, not being peaceful at heart.

About that time, while we were looking around trying to find something else, we met some friends who told us about NFP. They invited us to a meeting and we went to look and listen. We decided to try it. That decision has made a tremendous difference in our lives, up to the present.

One quality about NFP is -- abstinence. As a couple we would like to address ourselves to this subject; we think it is the greatest thing going.

Marilyn: When I first heard that abstinence is involved in NFP, I said, "No way! I do not want anything to do with abstinence because I don't think that it is natural for a married woman to say no to my husband. That is against nature," I said. I don't want to agree with anything that was going to keep me from fully satisfying both myself and Mike for even a short time during the month.

Mike: In the course of time we realized that what we had tried to avoid in our quest for oneness, in our search for peace and love; what we had discounted and turned away from, was to become the very thing which has the most value for us. Now we are looking to abstinence, to NFP, to gain real freedom in our lives. NFP allows us to decide when we want another child. It is freedom. Right now we have five children, but we're open to having another. NFP allows us to make the decision when we wish.

Marilyn: I decided to try NFP because of the testimony of couples, the testimony of priests, and because I trusted Mike. I was in quest of peace, and willing to try anything. I wanted to experience again that feeling of peace as an "innocent" Catholic, a person growing up in a Catholic environment and in harmony with it. I wanted that peace of mind, that peace of heart again, and so I tried NFP. And I want you to know that it works; it is like having my cake and eating it too. I know that I now have peace. I am living Catholic values. And I'm also never saying no to Mike. Abstinence does not mean that we say no to each other. Our abstinence is so fantastic that we are able to say yes to each other in its practice. Our creative sexual love-making is so beautiful; during this abstinence time every other part of our lives is enhanced.

Mike: It was kind of surprising to me to realize how much I had been performing. I used to think that I had to perform while making love. It now occurred to me that we could make love without having intercourse. I realized that Marilyn loves me, not just "performer me ' "and not just for all sorts of pleasure. She loves me, because I'm me, and I'm her husband. That is great peace, deep security. That awareness has helped me to change quite a bit over the past several years. To be loved as a person is the greatest benefit that I have personally gotten out of NFP.

Marilyn: We also realized that this oneness that I was looking for with Mike is not just an end result; it doesn't just come because we have intercourse. That is not the oneness that I had been seeking all these years. I had thought that it was the act of intercourse which satisfied me and which satisfied Mike. And it is, most certainly; I am not denying that. But all the little unions that go before this totality of union, these are the things that enrich us; the tenderness to each other during the other twenty three and a half hours of the day; the sensitivity to one another; the touching of one another; the just being fully aware of the presence of one another; that kind of oneness was not there before. It came when we realized that nothing was taken away from us by abstinence with NFP; rather, new things were added to us. All these onenesses that went around intercourse, before and after intercourse, all of the little unions that we had with one another-these were the things which fulfilled our lives. That was the oneness in our sacramental relationship, the satisfaction which we were searching for. So we really do have our cake and eat it too.

Mike: We have come up with a new definition of abstinence; we decided that abstinence for us from now on, is the answer to our search for freedom. Freedom in love-making and in our desire to be one in our coupleness, in our Catholic sacramental life as a couple. And we think that it is so terrific that every couple should have the opportunity of finding such deep-rooted freedom and peace.

Given at a workshop on NFP at St. Mary's Abbey, Morristown, New Jersey, Jan. 23, 1979.

Next Page: 12. NFP a threat?
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