Having overcome a promiscuous past and knowing that I would soon be intimate with my husband for the very first time on our wedding night, I felt like I had attained success over sexual sin in my life. For the first time since becoming sexually active at the age of 13, I felt like I was entering a physical relationship that God would approve of. However, it wasn’t until we started practicing Natural Family Planning (NFP), eight years into our marriage, that I really understood that the beginning of our marriage was still tainted by lust. Marriage does not cure sexual sin!
We became an instant blended family so it was important to us to ensure that our children did not feel like we were replacing them with each other. We knew that we wanted at least one child between us but we wanted to wait a year to allow time for our little patchwork family to adjust. Leading up to our engagement a friend recommended that I get on the pill so that if a proposal came sooner than later, the pill would have time to take effect in my body before our wedding as we knew we wanted a short engagement. It made sense to me so I made an appointment and started taking a low dose contraceptive. I made sure to ask my doctor all kinds of questions to ensure that I was on a pill that wouldn’t harm a baby if ‘one snuck through’ but at this point in my life I was so ignorant as to how contraceptives worked and I was completely oblivious on how they can make one’s womb a ‘hostile environment’ until I found myself experiencing a miscarriage just four months into my marriage. With adjusting to the unique circumstances of our instant family as well as entering into a difficult season of deep personal healing from my past of trauma and abuse, I just stuffed this experience down and kept on moving through life. Two months shy of our first anniversary, I was informed for the first time that contraceptives have abortifacient qualities so I shared this information with my husband and we decided together that we would never again place another one of our children in harm’s way through contraceptives.
We went on to have our first and only child together and after a very difficult pregnancy I had a tubal ligation that I regretted soon after. The combination of ignorance and fear can lead us into some very poor choices and my husband and I didn’t understand the physical and spiritual consequences we would soon face. After my surgery, there was no longer a ‘fear’ of pregnancy but what I couldn’t see was that my marriage was damaged and flawed. We took our most private moments together for granted and we didn’t prioritize the limited time we had to connect in deeper ways. I’ve chalked this type of damage up to what I call ‘Marital Fornication’, that is, sexual relations in a marriage that are driven by lust, lacking self-control, and which exclude God. These types of relations are simply physical. They lack intimacy, disrespect our fertility, and can even mask serious health issues in women. Our fertility is the road map to our health and if we can’t track our ovulation (or lack thereof) then how do we really know if we are healthy?
Before we get married it seems there is often so much emphasis placed upon chastity and self-control, then suddenly when we get married that all goes out the window! That’s how it was in my marriage and in my specific instance, I was the aggressor. I had spent ten years of my life giving my body away to uncommitted men who used and abused me, and I had no idea what true intimacy was. After experiencing my second unplanned pregnancy from a second father, I chose abstinence. Abortion would never be an option for me and having more children from uncommitted men was no longer an option either so I had to change my lifestyle. It proved to be all surface changes though once I got married because I immediately resumed the same type of behavior as I had before since it was now ‘allowed’. I wasn’t sinning anymore, or so I thought. Even though our first time was on our wedding night, our most private moments together as a husband and wife were no different than when I had hooked up with random guys; it was simply lust driven monogamous sex. There were times when my husband expressed that he just wanted to hold me and I would feel rejected and unwanted but what my husband was trying to experience with me was intimacy and closeness and I had no idea what that looked or felt like. All I had ever known was lust so all I could give him was marital fornication.
As I became more involved in the Prolife Movement I learned more about NFP and I began to share my own experiences of losing my son to miscarriage while on the pill and how I had destroyed my fertility through surgery out of fear and ignorance. Even though I knew I was sharing the truth, I felt like a hypocrite. Who was I to point people toward NFP when I didn’t even practice it myself? My heart began to feel more conflicted as I could no longer play the ignorance card. I got it, it made so much sense but it was too late for me!
Or was it?
One day I decided that I wanted to become an NFP instructor so that I could help other women avoid my past regrets. I had also read a book by Christopher West called, ‘Theology of the Body for Beginners’ and my eyes and heart were opened to see the truth about what intimacy is and is not. I found so much healing through those pages. About two weeks before my NFP course I was lying in bed and felt God whisper in my ear that I would find peace with my past if I practiced NFP as though my fertility was intact and we were postponing pregnancy. It didn’t make sense to me but I told my husband and he readily agreed. I went on to become an NFP instructor and learned so much but after we started practicing NFP by the official rules it was like a heavy weight was lifted from our marriage. There was no more pressure or assumptions for either of us. My chart tells us if intimacy is an option on any given night and it is now anticipated and longed for in ways it never was before NFP and I can tell you what, we get the kids in bed on time and put our phones and projects down early when we have a green light! On nights when we know it’s not an option, neither of us feel guilty for staying up late in the other room working on projects. Even on nights when we have a green light, we still don’t place an expectation on each other. We would rather wait till we are both able to unplug and totally focus on each other than settle for just a physical encounter. NFP has healed our marriage in ways that we didn’t even know were damaged for all those years and our ability to communicate has drastically improved as well.
We no longer engage with one another in a lustful manner and our intimate life has grown so deep through self-control, respect for one another’s fertility, and a desire to please God above our own physical gratification. Although we spent many years missing out on the blessings that NFP had to offer our marriage, I know that my husband and I will never again settle for lust and temporal fulfillment when we know the lasting fulfillment that is available through intentional and unitive intimacy. I hope that sharing our experience with NFP will inspire others to give it a chance, it’s not simply about planning or postponing pregnancies, it is a pro-health lifestyle that also embraces the beauty of intimacy that God desires us to have in our marriages.
Meagan Weber lives on the Southern Oregon Coast and is a wife, mother of four, and works for Abby Johnson’s ministry And Then There Were None Prolife Outreach. She also blogs and shares her testimony of Ashes to Beauty in Christ both online and at prolife events.
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