Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
Couples who use NFP have an incredibly low rate of divorce, and many couples have reported that using NFP to space pregnancies has led to an increase of grace, happiness, and intimacy in their marriage.
Sound too good to be true? It sure is! Oh, using NFP can strengthen your marriage, but that doesn't happen automatically. In fact, there are tons of easy and excellent ways to ruin your marriage while using NFP to postpone pregnancy. If you're interested in sharing many miserable years with your spouse, here's your action plan:
1. Men, make you wife feel either "useful" or "useless," depending on her current fertility. For instance, if you agree to postpone a pregnancy, launch a relentless campaign to make her have sex anyway, or satisfy you in illicit ways. You don't have to use physical force; there are plenty of other ways to exert pressure.
You can be nasty or sullen toward the whole family when you're abstaining.
You can always make her be the one who says "stop," as if she's the owner of sex, and you're the beggar -- this should make you both resentful.
In the name of chastity, you can shun her when she's fertile, so that, by the time you get the green light, she will be so hurt by your attitude that your sex life will be abysmal. You can turn to porn and masturbation, to make her feel like sex with her is your preference, but that there are many close seconds.
And when you do have sex, make sure she gives you what you've got coming. You deserve it, for waiting this long.
CAUTION: If consider her pleasure as important as yours when you do have sex, you might have to ask awkward questions about what works and what doesn't, and this will lead to better sex for both of you. If you let her know that you desire her madly, but care for her so tenderly that you are willing to wait -- if you clearly enjoy being with her even when she has clothes on --she will swoon. DO NOT DO THIS.
2. When she is pregnant, make sure she knows it's her problem, not yours. Ditto for all aspects of childcare. This tactic is versatile: if you're more practical than she is, you can shame her for falling for irrelevant, outdated pieties; or if you're holier than she is, you can shame her for not being more open to life. Either way, it's all her fault. This is probably what St. Joseph did.
CAUTION: If you spend time changing diapers, washing dishes, and playing with the kids, and listening closely when she explains what her days are really like -- if you really care about what worries her, and how you can relieve her workload -- she will think of you as a real man, and may even experience less anxiety about conceiving in the future. DO NOT DO THIS.
3. Women, remember that sex is important to men because men are pigs. They actually receive love primarily through physical means, if you can imagine such a thing. They are so foul and immature that they actually feel lonely and wounded when they don't receive physical affection.
Make them feel guilty every time they touch you.
Be cold and scrupulous.
When abstaining, act like an Amish schoolgirl, as if married chastity is the same as unmarried chastity.
When you do have sex, chose that day to scrub the wallpaper or clean out the attic, so you will be exhausted by the time your husband comes home.
Remember that holy women don't enjoy carnal things, so make no effort to become skillful in bed.
Also, holy men only care about spiritual things, so make no effort to be physically attractive.
Do not learn his tastes; do not communicate your tastes. Remember that the whole thing is just nasty, and basically a joke on women.
Make no attempt to remedy this attitude.
CAUTION: If, through trial and error, perserverence and communication, and lots of trips to confession, you do work out how to be physical enough to communicate love, but not so physical that you're making things worse, your affection will deepen, and your sex life will probably improve. Abstinence will become more manageable, or at least more interesting. DO NOT DO THIS.
4. Register your dissatisfaction with NFP by charting sloppily. If you resent charting and do it poorly, your confidence will be shot, your guilt/resentment quotients will increase, and the next time you are faced with a serious need to avoid pregnancy, you will likely have a nervous breakdown. Your husband will be too terrified to touch you. Voila! No pregnancy.
CAUTION: Charting conscientiously shows your husband that you're very interested in finding as many available days as possible, because you desire him and his happiness. DO NOT DO THIS.
Men and women:
5. Constantly compare yourself to other families you see at Mass, even though you're seeing them at their best and comparing it to your secret, interior worst. Also, when a stranger makes a comment on Facebook, take that very seriously; but disregard everything you know about your actual family, your temperament, your husband's temperament, your history, your financial situation, your children's needs, your emotional state, and your relationship with God.
CAUTION: Making prayerful decisions about your individual, unique marriage can lead to maturity, increases in self-control and self-knowledge in all areas, healthy confidence, compassion toward other people, and a greater understanding of how free will operates in cooperation with God's will. DO NOT DO THIS.
6. Constantly surround yourself with secular influences, lest you hear first-hand the Church's teachings about human sexuality. Saturate yourself with the idea that sex is a right, and that NFP is the culprit that deprives you of your rights. Bitterly grumble that if NFP is so "natural," it ought to be easy and pleasant, like natural bread or natural sunlight or naturally woven fibers in your favorite pants. Never stop and think that truly "natural" things are things which make you consider their true nature. Never dwell on the true nature of sex.
CAUTION: Remember, Christ told us to take up our cross, and promised that suffering leads to salvation if we embrace it willingly. DO NOT DO THIS.
7. Do not talk about it with your spouse. Assume that, as in all things, men and women see life in exactly the same way. There is no possible way you are misunderstanding each other's motives, attitudes, or behavior.
CAUTION: Talking about it may help you to understand your spouse better in general, not just in the bedroom, and may lead to enlightenment and compassion. DO NOT DO THIS.
8. Do not laugh about it. Sex is holy, and holy things are never funny. Ever. Even when you're naked.
CAUTION: Laughter leads to closeness, and helps us to take ourselves less seriously. DO NOT DO THIS.
9. Above all, never pray about it. God does not want to hear about yucky, embarrassing stuff like that. Ideally, you should suffer all the unpleasant consequences of original sin without enjoying any of the benefits of the Incarnation. Remind yourself frequently that the main thing that God does is to say "NO," and that you unerringly anticipate everything that God has in store for your life.
CAUTION: Remember, sex is a powerful thing which can, in any marriage, become cramped, dark, and full of pain. If you pray about sex to God, who invented sex, He may shed light on it for you. He may transform your sexual relationship with your spouse into a source of joy which transforms your life, whether you're abstaining or not. DO NOT DO THIS.
Well, there you have it. Using these simple guidelines, you can do a bad job of avoiding pregnancy and do horrible damage to your relationship.
The best part? You can just blame NFP.