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

21. Storing Sexual Energies

Natural family planning providers are beginning to recognize that they are dealing with considerably more than a birth control method. This is because the primary focus of natural methods is the couple -- not a device. For NFP to be effective, both the man and the woman must agree to use the method and thereafter they must become and remain cooperative partners.

NFP is also uncovering new dimensions in the male-female sexual relationship. One of these facts is that a short abstinence phase seems to enhance, not detract from the relationship ....

Like any energy source, sexual energy is more effective if "stored" to be released later at an appropriate time of our choice.

Sexual energy release is most readily triggered by the erotic. But that is also the most superficial "trigger." According to Dr. David Landers, periodic abstinence helps the couple grow so that ultimately the "triggers" releasing sexual energy become the emotional and affective aspects of the couple's love bond. As a result, the erotic gradually loses its position as the primary sexual force. instead, the other person, the loved one, plus the emotions and feelings felt toward the loved one become the primary force ....

Certainly one reason so many have become enthusiastic about NFP is that they have begun to master the art of sexual energy control. One woman commented on the positive effects on her marriage:

"When we can make love, my husband is more affectionate and tender and gentle. He is affectionate every day and looks forward to when we can make love. I don't feel "used" anymore and know be doesn't take advantage of sex or me ....

The technological level: Like contraception, natural family planning is highly reliable when used properly. Unplanned pregnancies are rare and at the same time, the method has no known hazardous side-effects. In other words, from the point of view of sheer "technology" the method works; it's effective.

The physical level: I never interviewed an individual or a couple who complained that their sexual relationship had deteriorated because of their acceptance of abstinence. This complaint did appear twice in the questionnaires, but couples overwhelmingly report that their physical relationship had improved, sometimes considerably, since relying on NFP.

Certainly one reason for improvement is that the couples are "storing" their sexual energies. As one woman married less than a year said, "Abstinence is the best aphrodisiac." Obviously contraception doesn't involve any kind of storage and may be a factor in the growing problem of sexual boredom and mate impotence.

Another matter: Women often felt "used" while using contraceptives, particularly since many husbands tended to forget about "courting" them. Once they learned that their husbands were willing to abstain for a short period of time - in effect, not "use" them, rather, court them - their response became more ardent when intercourse became available again.

The interpersonal level: The human sexual experience is never wholly separated from the personal experience. Moreover, there are many ways to use sexual intercourse. It can be used for exploitation, conquest, humiliation, anger, etc. But ideally, sexual intercourse should be an expression of the deeper human emotions. Love, joy, spiritual closeness, tenderness, and other deep emotions that move men and women are profoundly suitable for sexual expression, although this is by no means the exclusive, or even the best, mode of expression. A touch, a glance, a soft smile may say considerably more.

Most couples understand this instinctively, even though our culture tends to obscure this reality. Still, this instinctive understanding may be one reason why couples are willing to walk into an NFP class: couples already know that abstinence will be involved, but their values are sufficiently developed so that "sex on demand" is no longer an essential value to them. It may still be important-but it's no longer an essential value.

A young husband's experience shows how he and his wife began to experience natural family planning at all its levels:

I never thought that after ten years of marriage and a handful of children I would ever feel the yearning for my wife that I had felt when we courted and were first married. I figured that all those old feelings were a part of being young and in love. Being older and loving each other was nice, but there certainly wasn't any cha-cha-cha about it.

I wasn't enthusiastic when we changed to NFP, but we saw no other way. We went to class very, very reluctantly. Me especially. But almost right away it started happening again: That incredible yearning I used to feel for my wife returned - and not just once in a while: It was there every month. Every cycle gradually turned into courtship and honeymoon all over again.

We think that the longing and yearning we feel for each other is better than what we felt when we were younger. We both think this is because we've been through so much together by now - childbirth, baby's first steps, family weddings, as well as unemployment, sickness, and other hard times. NFP has become more than a method of birth control for us: It's a life-style.

A woman was ebullient in summarizing her experience of NFP the couple's life:

Our marriage "began" and bloomed 100 percent after we started using NFP. We felt closer to God and this helped our marriage. We had the phases of courtship and honeymoon and celebrated. We shared my body awareness. We shared days of uncertainty and we shared days of gambling and pregnancy. It was a change from 'I' to 'we.' Our last baby was conceived out of love and with full knowledge that we would conceive. From that moment we could picture the hours and days of growth.

But before NFP I feared going to bed as I didn't know my fertility cycle and 'worried' that I might become pregnant. Now I know my fertility signs and feel 100 percent confident in those signs and no longer fear. It is a great relief and a burden off my shoulders. I want more children - but when I am ready and capable.

I would like to make a personal comment at this time. When I first heard about natural family planning, I thought of it as a last resort for couples who simply could not tolerate (for reasons of health) the effective artificial methods. And except for those with moral objections to contraception, it was unimaginable to me that any couple would actually prefer a natural method to an artificial one.

Today I recognize that periodic abstinence is not only effective for fertility control, it is also a creative contribution to the human experience. Personally, I can no longer imagine any other love style but this one. It is my hope that this, too, will become your discovery.

by Nona Aguilar

Reprinted with permission from the book NO PILL, NO-RISK BIRTH CONTROL Rawson, Wade Publishers, Inc., New York, 1980.

Next Page: 22. NFP comes to the Congo
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