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

13. What Some Priests Don't Know about NFP

I am a pediatrician, of Polish nationality, living in Vienna. My husband is at the Atomic Energy Office. We have three children. The oldest is getting married soon in Poland; our future daughter-in-law has learned NFP and is in agreement with its principles.

Because a theologian (a friend) writes me his opinion that it is practically impossible for couples to follow this method, I wish to reply to some common objections:

"The sympto-thermal method is too complicated."

It may seem so at first glance, or when reading instructions for the first time. From experience I can say that women understand it very quickly. The combination of the two signs, temperature and mucus, makes it easier to recognize the fertile and infertile times.

"It's a big bother and takes lots of time."

Naturally, measuring the temperature is a bit bothersome, and at the beginning not so pleasant. One gets used to it very fast and it becomes a habit, like brushing the teeth. After some experience, one doesn't have to measure it daily, but only during eight or 10 days of the month.

"It requires leisure and a very regular life."

The "leisure" required comes to this: that a married couple have a room to sleep in. Rising at night to take care of a child is no hindrance. Differences in time for measuring the temperature are of no importance if within a two-hour range. If a woman has night duties, she can measure the temperature in the daytime after an hour or two of rest. During a journey, most important is temperature measurement around ovulation time. But if a woman knows both signs well, she can sometimes recognize the fertile time by the mucus alone.

"Some priests think that temperature measurement is practically not possible."

Many married couples are already using the temperature sign for NFP, and they have no reason to mention this in the confessional. But couples who don't know NFP or who don't want to use it, may tell the priest it is impossible, and talk a great deal about their difficulties.

I have arrived at this position through experience. Naturally it is possible that some couples may have special difficulties with recognizing the days. Then they should seek special guidance.

I don't think that a young woman should learn only one sign at first, and then, if she has difficulties, learn the other sign too after some months. It is so much better if a young woman learns to interpret both signs together from the beginning. in this way she learns her biological Signs well; and then after some time she can use the sign alone which she prefers, if she notices that she can get along with only one sign. But from the start, she should learn both signs.

In Austria, NFP is practically unknown among the people. Priests tolerate contraception. Among some persons there is an antipathy against NFP which almost amounts to aggressiveness. Even Catholic publications are wary of NFP.

During the past year, however, interest in NFP among young married couples has spread. The book of the Lutheran Ingrid Trobisch, The Joy of Being A Woman, is being read widely. Last year Dr. Josef Roetzer gave three lectures on NFP in Vienna for the first time. I have received approval for two medical lectures for marriage courses in May and June 1980. We should live in hopes!

by Dr. Elisabeth Wojcic

Next Page: 14. NFP an art to be learned
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