If you knew a proven practice to lower your odds of ever getting a divorce wouldn’t you want to know more about that practice and incorporate that technique into your marriage?
The divorce rate for couples who practice Natural Family Planning (NFP) is less than 5%. National Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is an opportunity for you to learn more about it. NFP Awareness Week is a national educational campaign developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to focus attention on Natural Family Planning methods and Church teachings which support their use in marriage. This method assists couples in achieving or avoiding pregnancy, aids couples that have previously experienced infertility and can help identify underlying health issues. Couples practicing NFP experience enhanced communication and intimacy.
We encourage couples to take a Natural Family Planning (NFP) course in person or online. NFP is safe, extremely effective, and completely in harmony with the Church’s teachings.
The Office of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment of the Diocese of Knoxville is proud to present a video series, “It Takes Two – Naturally: Natural Family Planning and You.” Over time, videos discussing Natural Family Planning, as well as the testimonials of couples within the diocese who are using it, will be available to answer questions you might have.
In this video, Melissa and Justin Gallagher, a hip, young couple who attend Holy Spirit Church in Soddy Daisy, discuss how artificial means of birth control left them feeling spiritually depleted and how using the Creighton method, one means of Natural Family Planning, was the cure!
Tim & Beth Walker’s NFP Journey
While preparing to move last year, I came across the Natural Family Planning (NFP) pamphlet we received from the Diocese of Knoxville’s Office of Marriage Preparation and Enrichment during our marriage preparation weekend back in 2011. It was stuffed in a folder, which was stuffed in an envelope, which was finally crammed inside a drawer in our spare bedroom closet. I dusted it off and thought to myself, “so I guess we DID hear about NFP before we got married.” I’ve found this to be the case with so many things in my life. I hear something important, but don’t listen. Then I forget about it only to come face to face with it (and the reality of its truth) sometime later.
Our NFP story began a few years after our wedding. In 2013, a few months before my wife Beth became pregnant with our first child, we both decided birth control wasn’t for us. Beth was in Sacred Heart Cathedral’s RCIA program at the time and I, a cradle Catholic, was learning (or relearning) my faith along with her.
Beth and I saw the shortcomings and empty promises of hormonal contraception. We were both open to life and were ready to start our family. A few months later, Beth was pregnant with James, who was born in August of 2014 via Cesarean Section. It was a difficult labor and delivery for Beth. I like to say that she went through enough labor for three moms; including 8 hours of natural labor, 5 more with an epidural, 2 hours of pushing and eventually an emergency C-Section.
One we got used to late nights, early mornings and diaper changes, we decided it was time to learn NFP. We knew we wanted to stay true to the Church’s teaching, but we were scared and unsure about whether it would work. Beth’s doctor had counseled her to avoid pregnancy for at least a year. Due to her difficult delivery, we took that advice seriously. That’s when we found the Couple to Couple League. We signed up to learn the Sympto-Thermal Method of NFP taught by Monica and Jared Kimutis and never looked back.
NFP and the Symto-Thermal Method taught by the Couple to Couple League is something best practiced as a couple. No free pass for us guys! Beth and I have found that this works best when she takes her temperature each morning and monitors fertility signs throughout the day. My job is to chart the progress and interpret the signs. We found this to be a good way to keep both of us involved.
We took Monica and Jared’s class during Beth’s postpartum period of infertility. This proved to be a difficult time to begin charting because there was no ovulation or a regular cycle to track.
Charting can be hard. The signs can be hard to interpret, especially during the postpartum period. It’s hard for me to write that because I know what a blessing NFP has been for our family. But it’s the truth. Beth’s postpartum infertility lasted about a year. A lot of that can be attributed to her amazing dedication to breastfeeding James. The stress of being new parents and the difficulty of Beth’s labor and delivery took its toll on both of us. This lead to a period of abstinence in our marriage. And guys, let me be honest with you, sometimes that is okay. And you’ve got to be okay with it too. I’d be lying if I said practicing NFP has been all good times and without its struggles. Neither is marriage. Christ never guaranteed a cushy life, and we aren’t called as men and husbands to lead a life without sacrifice. To be compatible with your spouse literally means to suffer with them.
We eventually did make it through that first year and came out the other side with a stronger marriage because we were forced to talk about our challenges. Once Beth’s regular cycle returned everything began to make sense. We could see clear patterns and were able to track her cycle with accuracy. It was a great feeling to see the things we learned in class work in the real world. The accuracy and science behind NFP and the Sympto-Thermal Method is real!
The return of a regular cycle also meant that we had a to talk each month about whether we were ready to grow our family. We had to understand each other and how we were feeling about our family. There were times when we didn’t agree. We talked about those differences. Sometimes we argued about those differences. Were our reasons to delay pregnancy serious enough? Were we ready for another baby? These are real issues that I know so many men and woman deal with. NFP is a great way to create an environment for the conversation.
By the way, any men out there looking for a great treatment on what it means to be a husband as a father should check out Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Be A Man!” You won’t regret it. Ephesians 5:25 has hit me like a 2×4 to the side of my head on more than one occasion:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
This is what it means to be a man and why it’s important for us guys to understand the truth about sex and our marriages. Christ died for his church. We’re called to show that same sacrifice to our spouses. Fr. Larry hammers home the point that true freedom is obedience to Christ. Remember, we have a God who doesn’t just sit in a cloud and tell us what to do. He became flesh, dwelt among us and died for us. To me, NFP is a prefect encapsulation of Christ’s message. It’s all there. Self-giving love, sacrifice, suffering and true happiness.
Don’t think that NFP is just about avoiding pregnancy, either! The reason I came across that NFP pamphlet last year was because we were preparing to sell our house in preparation for a couple of additions to our family. Our twin girls, Annemarie and Abigail were born this April! We’ve begun to chart again are excited for what the future will bring.
Looking back on the decision we made more than 2 years ago to learn NFP, it’s clear that we have been blessed. As we work each day in our domestic church, we know we are not alone. We have the support from an entire community of families committed to NFP and God’s vision for our sexuality. If we can do it, so can you! If you’re ready to learn more, please check out the Diocese of Knoxville’s NFP Page Online classes at your own pace are available, although I’d highly recommend taking an in-person class from a couple like Monica and Jared Kimutis. Their next class begins on August 12 at All Saints Parish!
The Walker family are members of Sacred Heart Cathedral
In 2012, MARRIAGE MINISTRIES launched Learn NFP Online in response to the many requests we received from parishes and diocesan ministry leaders looking for an effective way to spread the good news of natural family planning. With endorsements from the USCCB, WOOMB International, and BOMA-USA, the online course has been well received by NFP instructors and engaged couples.
We are excited to report that 1,500 couples have taken the course from throughout the US and abroad. The rate of follow-up by couples seeking one-on-one continued coaching is equal to what has been reported by various diocesan offices following traditional, classroom-style NFP courses. Instructors find that couples signing up for follow-up coaching after completing the online course are very well prepared and have a solid foundational knowledge of NFP and, specifically, the Billings Ovulation Method.
The course fee is $49 per individual or couple. A certificate of completion is provided.Contact a certified instructor in your area:
Knoxville: Steve & Collette Souder, 865-984-4919 or email@example.com
Couple to Couple League–certified instructors
Jared & Monica Kimutis, 970-980-5009 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Couple to Couple League–certified instructors
Brian & Sarah Potter at 276-698-6244 or email@example.com
Couple to Couple League–certified instructors
To get more information or register for a class click: Couple to Couple League
Chattanooga: Judi Phillips, firstname.lastname@example.org (Creighton Model Fertility Care System–certified instructor) Distance learning available through Skype sessions.
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Find a Pro-Life Doctor
Go to any of the following links to find a directory of doctors near you. (Please note that the standards and methods by which a doctor is included in a list of “pro-life” doctors will vary with each of the groups listed below. Any questions about a particular doctor should be referred to the group that maintains the list.)
American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists – www.aaplog.org
AAPLOG number 2500 members and associates, and is recognized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as a special interest group within the College. The purpose of AAPLOG is to reaffirm the unique value and dignity of individual human life in all stages of growth and development from conception onward.
Pro-Life Maternal-Fetal Medicine – www.prolifemfm.org
For these maternal-fetal medicine specialists, the fact that they have two patients when they help women through complicated pregnancies is more than a biological fact; it is a passionate commitment. The directory of pro-life maternal-fetal medicine doctors is an especially valuable resource to turn to for better advice when another doctor recommends abortion for health reasons.
One More Soul (OMS) – www.onemoresoul.com
OMS is dedicated to spreading the truth about the blessings of children and the harm of contraception. Their directory consists of physicians practicing medicine in accord with traditional Christian principles. Natural Family Planning (NFP)-Only Physicians do not prescribe, perform, or refer for contraception, sterilization, abortion, or in vitro fertilization. They promote NFP for achieving or avoiding conception. This directory includes not only OBGYN doctors but also physicians of other specialties who support the moral values that OMS promotes, and also includes NFP Teachers and Centers.
Association of Pro-Life Physicians (APP) – www.prolifephysicians.org
The APP seeks to employ medical expertise and influence in communities to educate the public and political leaders on the humanity and viability of the pre-born child, and to encourage alternatives to abortion. They have created a list of physicians who adhere to the pro-life language of the Hippocratic oath, who are convinced that life begins at conception and who will neither perform nor refer for abortions.
The Campaign for Ethical Vaccines Pro-Life Physician Database – www.cogforlife.org/prolifephysicianlist.htm
This group provides a list of doctors and pharmacies willing to provide ethical alternatives to aborted fetal cell line vaccines.
Fertility CareTM Centers of America – www.fertilitycare.org
Locate A NaProTECHNOLOGY Medical Consultant in your Area.