As you may know, many couples use fertility-awareness methods like Natural Family Planning (NFP) to try to become pregnant, but NFP can also help couples carrying the cross of infertility. Learning about the body’s signs and signals of fertility can often reveal problems and give couples and their doctors direction for treatment.
Whatever a couple’s fertility-related intentions may be, NFP can also be a valuable tool for daily communication between spouses when both are engaged in the process. For women, fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle and the life cycle impact energy, mood, libido, and physical wellness. Even though charting can sometimes feel burdensome, NFP observations give a woman a valuable opportunity to reflect on her embodied experience every day. She can ask herself, “Is my melancholy mood related to something that happened outside of me today, or inside of me today?” This increased self-awareness often allows her to practice better self-care, self-love, and self-acceptance, regardless of the outcome. Communicating regularly with her husband about these observations and inviting him into the process can help ensure that spouses face fertility challenges together.
Couples can deepen their relationship with each other by communicating in this vulnerable way, and they can also enrich their spiritual lives as well, as they pray together. God surely hears these prayers, and God cares about all of our needs. If God knows the number of the hairs on our heads, then God also knows the intricacies of our bodies, and wants to attend to us with great love and care. Practicing NFP gives couples an opportunity to care for one another, and to invite God to care for them, in a profound and intimate way.
CALLED TO THE JOY OF LOVE
When was the last time you felt joy in your marriage?
During NFP Awareness Week the USCCB’s theme for the year was “Called to the Joy of Love.” If you read that tagline and felt that it failed to capture your particular experience with NFP, you are not alone.
If you are one of the many couples who are trying to conceive—charting day in and day out, attending endless rounds of doctor’s appointments, taking injections and medications and supplements, and hoping month after month that this time, things will be different—JOY may be the last emotion you expect to feel when you think about NFP.
But guess what? You and your spouse are STILL called to the joy of love–the fullness of joy that is our inheritance as sons and daughters of God. Yes, joy is still possible for your marriage in this season of life!
So what are some practical ways you might begin to uncover some of this joy in your life?
- Take a break from medications and charting if you need to. God does not withhold gifts from you, His child, because you didn’t “try hard enough”! When you take up charting again, ask your husband to become more involved (if he isn’t already). Fertility is shared between husband and wife, and the burden of infertility is too heavy to carry alone!
- Find fruitfulness now. Whether or not you are actively trying to conceive, fruitfulness is not something that is “on hold” until there is a baby. Your marriage is fruitful already, through the love you share with each other, and the ways you reach out to others. Nurturing your relationship as a couple, cooking, gardening and keeping your home are all ways your love bears fruit. You give life to others when you exercise hospitality, perform works of charity, and even in how you do your job. There are so many ways that your marriage witnesses to God’s love for the world, and there are countless opportunities to be a source of life, encouragement and support to others. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where He needs you.
- Cultivate interior peace. Ask God to give you this grace through the intercession of His Blessed Mother. Set reasonable screen-time limits for yourself to help cut out unnecessary noise and use some of that time for meditative prayer or journaling. Accepting God’s will and current situations in life is not “giving up”, but is an act of trust in God that can be renewed each day!
How are you and your spouse called to the joy of love—TODAY?
Our Lady Of Peace: Walking With Mary Through Infertility
More Resources On Carrying The Cross Of Infertility
Springs in the Desert accompanies those struggling with infertility by offering a place of respite and solidarity where they can know God’s love for them and discover His unique call to fruitfulness.
Firmly rooted in the anthropology, ethics and spirituality of the Catholic Church, and our shared experiences of infertility, Springs in the Desert affirms the goodness of marriage, upholds the giftedness of the child, and advocates for a broader understanding of what it means to be life-giving. By keeping our focus on Christ, not on conception, we give witness to His Divine love and mercy and the goodness of His plan for our lives.
Springs in the Desert forms our community with unique offerings for women, men and couples, meeting them wherever they are on the path of infertility. Through these encounters, we make space for deeper renewal in our relationships with ourselves, our spouses, and God. Visit their website HERE.