By LAURA MCKENZIE
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
Editor’s note: NFP columnist Laura McKenzie interviewed Rachel and Isaac Sellers for this column.
When/ how did you come to an awareness of NFP/openness to life and how did it become a part of your desire within marriage?
Rachel – Isaac and I went to religious education at Sts. Peter Paul Parish in Haubstadt growing up. In high school, Dr. Bill Blanke came to talk to our class about NFP. He explained how its teaching aligns with the Catholic Church, and the benefits NFP has on married couples. Isaac and I were dating at the time, and we knew immediately that NFP was what we wanted to do when we got married.
How have the Church's teachings on marriage appealed to you?
Rachel – Growing up with three sisters, I get to experience the beauty of a large family. Knowing that children are gifts from God, and that all gifts from God are blessings, makes it hard for me not to desire a big family one day!
Isaac – I think a common theme in Catholic teaching, on vocations, specifically, is sacrifice. If we are willing to sacrifice, then we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. All we can do as humans is give our best effort every day; lay down our lives for others; and God will provide what we need.
What have been the biggest benefits to practicing NFP?
Isaac – The biggest benefit I found is that NFP allows us to be fully open to life, and that it is up to God if we have kids. If God wants us to have children, he will help provide what is essential for our child along the way. This gives Rachel and me peace of mind, and makes the marital act an act of love and not lust.
Rachel – I see so many benefits of NFP for Isaac and me as a couple, but the biggest advantage is within our communication. Communication can be challenging, and it causes tension in a lot of marriages. However, in order for NFP to be successful, you and your spouse must keep open communication with each other, which strengthens your marriage in many ways.
What are the biggest challenges?
Isaac – The biggest challenge is having self-control. As an individual, and as a couple, we have to have a lot of self-control at certain times of the month. This has been a challenge but has helped us grow together as well, as we’ve found other ways to show our love to each other.
Rachel – As a newly married couple, learning and implementing NFP can be challenging in the beginning. Just like starting any new task, project, etc. I believe that is why many individuals think NFP doesn’t work. As a young couple, we often hear doubts from others. However, the more awareness and education we can spread about how to implement NFP correctly, the more we will see it among married couples.
The more you are exposed to NFP and its teaching prior to entering the vocation of marriage, the better! However, it is never too late to learn the teachings of NFP and implement it in your marriage. Fortunately, our Catholic community is full of resources to help teach NFP, and help along the way.
What have been the unexpected surprises/blessings along the way?
After being together for eight years before marriage, we had no idea how much our relationship would change once we got married; NFP is definitely the root of the newfound love we have for each other. We both agree that our relationship is the best it has ever been, and we feel like NFP has opened our eyes to the beauty of the Catholic Church. NFP encourages us to give ourselves completely to each other, and to love each other selflessly. It has not only brought us closer to each other, but closer to God.
How would you share this teaching of our Church to those who are most skeptical?
We are extremely grateful for the impact NFP has had on our relationship. Not only intimately, but emotionally and spiritually. We listened to married couples speak on these benefits for years; but until you actually experience it firsthand, it is hard to understand how powerful NFP is. We both agree that everyone should give NFP a chance; it is a beautiful gift!