Delights & Struggles of NFP

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By Rebecca Teti

Wednesdays: Natural Family Planning

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

This weekly thread is a place where you can share your struggles, triumphs, links, resources, concerns, and questions about all things related to Natural Family Planning.

Please join the conversation! 

Rebecca Teti


  • Hi! My fiancé and I are preparing for marriage and starting to learn the Marquette model. Any advice or tips from you more experienced couples? Also, recommendations for a good charting app?

    Posted on Feb 13th, 2013 at 9:53 AM by Christine

  • Christine-- Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. I'm glad you're learning NFP now. It's a lot easier to learn it before you "need" it, I think! I know that Marquette has been working on developing an app, but it was supposed to be unveiled several months ago, but hasn't been yet, as far as I know. I just chart using the online charts on their website. It's clunky, but you can access it on mobile devices. I like using that charting system because it's available to the nurses who run the program in case you have questions about your chart. What I don't like about the online chart is that there's no place to note things like cramps or mood swings, which could be helpful for a doctor to know about if there are other problems. My only advice for using the model is to follow the rules closely. It has a very high success rate for those who follow all of the rules--obviously, once you start cutting corners, more pregnancies occur!

    Posted on Feb 13th, 2013 at 11:46 AM by MR

  • Congratulations, Christine! I don't have any advice to offer since we've used first the sympto-thermal method and then Creighton, but I started charting about six months before our wedding, and I think it was a tremendous help.

    Posted on Feb 13th, 2013 at 1:08 PM by Carolyn A

  • The marquette method is wonderful and I'm delighted to hear you're starting to learn it now! I recommend learning a 2nd method as well, though - in case you run out of test sticks, find yourself on a wilderness camping trip and your canoe (including monitor and test strips) tips, etc. Far out possibilities, I know, but as a more likely one your monitor could malfunction. So I suggest knowing the "basics" of another method, too, and taking a CLASS to learn them! :) (Nothing beats a real class taught by a professional who can really answer your questions!) Best of luck and congrats on your upcoming wedding! I'm sure others have told you this but, if this is a high-stress/excitement time for you, don't expect your cycles to look picture-perfect. I skipped ovulating for several months before my wedding. Its great to get into the groove of charting, though. :) Congrats again!

    Posted on Feb 14th, 2013 at 6:00 AM by Jen

  • I was reading an article from Garry Willis from the NYTimes and wanted to get hear some feedback on some of the points he made in the article. Here is the link to the entire article if you need context. In general it seems he is arguing about contraception and the infallibility of the pope. The part I have never read before are in these three paragraphs: Of course, the pope is no longer a worldly monarch. For centuries he was such a ruler, with all the resources of a medieval or Renaissance prince — realms, armies, prisons, spies, torturers. But in the 19th century, when his worldly territories were wrested away by Italy, Pope Pius IX lunged toward a compensatory moral monarchy. In 1870, he elicited — from a Vatican council he called and controlled — the first formal declaration that a pope is infallible. From that point on, even when he was not making technically infallible statements, the pope was thought to be dealing in eternal truths. A gift for eternal truths is as dangerous as the gift of Midas’s touch. The pope cannot undo the eternal truths he has proclaimed. When Pope Paul VI’s commission of learned and loyal Catholics, lay and clerical, reconsidered the “natural law” teaching against birth control, and concluded that it could not, using natural reason, find any grounds for it, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the secretary of the Holy Office, told Paul that people had for years, on papal warrant, believed that using a contraceptive was a mortal sin, for which they would go to hell if they died unrepentant. On the other hand, those who followed “church teaching” were obliged to have many children unless they abstained from sex. How could Paul VI say that Pius XI, in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, had misled the people in such a serious way? If he admitted it, what would happen to his own authority as moral arbiter in matters of heaven and hell? So Paul VI doubled down, adding another encyclical in 1968, Humanae Vitae, to the unrenounceable eternal truths that pile up around a moral monarch. So my questions: 1) I thought that the infallibility of the pope occurred only when he 'spoke from the chair' and that had only occurred a couple times in history. Once that he could be infallible and once regarding Mary's ascension into Heaven. So if my learning is correct, then this guys argument is way off that there was an infallibility decree on contraception? 2)Can anyone shed some light on this supposed Pope Paul VI commission that was said people should be able to use artificial contraception but according to the writer - decided instead to say we couldn't because 'If he admitted it, what would happen to his own authority as moral arbiter in matters of heaven and hell?'. Thanks for any insight - truly trying to get facts and doctrine links on this to better understand.

    Posted on Feb 14th, 2013 at 3:19 PM by J

  • This article is a mess, Jeanne. The historical data is way off & I do not have time to go into detail, but if you do the research (which you can - internet allows accurate info to be at your fingertips. Seek out sites like,, and the Vatican's own website which has many papal documents) for leads on where to look next. And I said LEADS... not advocating that everything on, say, is "automatically" correct. But you can find the proper authoritative sources. You may wish to start by reading Humanae Vitae itself, available through the Daughters of St. Paul (find their website). NOW... the other issue here is papal authority, which is founded on *scripture* not ancient monarcial (if that's a word) beliefs. Christ gave the keys to St. Peter and you can read all about it in your Bible. I'm sure you know this. The Church has ALWAYS understood this to mean the Pope is infallible when speaking on faith and morals. Contraception is immoral. What more need be said?? Natural law, by the way DOES support this, too... even if the Pope did not. Contraception can cause microscopic abortions; we can all agree that this causing-of-the-death-of-a-child is wrong. Contraception further messes with the NATURAL goal of sex-during-the-fertile-time: to make a baby. That's unnatural. If you don't want to have a baby, don't have sex during the fertile time. How hard can this be?? I mean... it can be hard to hold back from sex... but how hard can it be to *understand*?? Sometimes people have to make hard choices in life. A man may want to *demand* more money from his boss. But if he has half a brain he will know this will at the very BEST make things awkward at work & may even terminate his job. So he bites his tongue. I may want to eat a dozen donuts; I hold back because I care about my figure a bit! Why is it so hard to process holding back from having sex? Why?? It is because society has fed us the "idea" that sex is in a realm all its own -- and whereas we understand the goodness of self-control in every other area, no one seems to like the idea that they have to hold back from sex at certain times of the month REGARDLESS of how lovey-dovey they feel during those times! The Pope (society says) can't make me do that!! Heaven forbid!! Good gracious, I LOVE my husband for waiting out 10 days every month. He waited for me until we got married & he waits for me again, every month. I say it is the sweetest expression of love a man can give a woman. Denied to all women who pop the pill!!! Done now.

    Posted on Feb 14th, 2013 at 5:35 PM by unknown

  • For J, well, infallibility is rather broader than that - otherwise the teaching on the Assumption would be infallible, but the teaching that Jesus is God wouldn't be. The definition of infallibility is: the pope, and the bishops in union with him, are protected from teaching error when teaching to the universal Church in matters of faith and morals. So a homily given at St. Peter's isn't infallible, since the pope is only preaching to that congregation; encyclicals (like Humanae Vitae) aren't exactly infallible either, except that they often are about topics that are part of the deposit of faith, so it can sometimes be sticky trying to pick out the bits that are part of that universal, constant teaching versus the parts that are more speculative or are prudential and directed to the audience of the time. For your second question, in a way, the original writer was correct. How COULD Paul VI go against the teaching of the Church? The answer being that, due to the Holy Spirit, he couldn't. The commission Paul VI had appointed to look into the question of birth control did recommend changing the teaching. Paul VI concluded that he couldn't actually do that - that it was part of that constant teaching of the Church on a question of morals and could not change. It wasn't a calculation of "let's make me and my Church "look" infallible" - it was simply the function of *being* infallible. hth!

    Posted on Feb 14th, 2013 at 10:26 PM by Anna

  • Also, I just had to add that I think it's completely disingenuous of the writer to, apparently, be fine with the Church being infallible as long as it changes to agree with him, but to also insist that the Church clearly can't be infallible because it HASN'T changed its teaching. Also, infallibility wasn't something invented suddenly when the pope wasn't a temporal ruler anymore. That had been around since, oh, St. Peter's time, when the Church looked to him to clarify what parts of the O.T. Law the Christians had to follow.

    Posted on Feb 14th, 2013 at 10:39 PM by Anna