NFP enriches marriage relationship
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
July 13, 2006
A young couple in the Diocese of Sioux City isn't accustomed to speaking
about private matters such as their sexuality in the public forum, but wishing
to spread the word about the benefits of natural family planning motivated Forde
and Kathryn Fairchild to agree to an interview for this article.
Forde said when he had first read about the Catholic Church's teachings on
human life and sexual intimacy "it seemed an invitation to a romanticism in
a very unique and high way. To always remember that a sexual act is an
opportunity to share the responsibilities and the joy of life is an invitation
to draw closer to your partner."
The couple married five years ago and have used NFP from the start of their
sacramental union. It was important to the couple to be in keeping with the
teachings of the church, but Forde stressed the fact that independently of the
authority it made sense to him - "to not separate the act from the
"NFP helps guard against selfishness because anything you get enjoyment
from can become selfish if you enter into it solely for what you get out of
it," noted Forde, 32. "If you always keep in mind the opportunity for
life in the act, it helps us - or maybe I mean me - to prevent it from being a
selfish act. It is richer and more intimate."
The times of abstinence become a gift for the couple, as they grow closer to
one another through increased communication and understanding.
"And there will be abstinent times in life - medical reasons and so
forth - so it prepares you for that," added Kathryn. "If you have that
line of openness and lack of selfishness, it will not be such a trial."
She pointed out that society puts most of the responsibility for birth
control on the woman.
"This puts the weight equally on two people," said Kathryn, 31, who
is the director of faith formation and campus ministry at Bishop Heelan High
School in Sioux City.
Forde, who is an Assistant United States Attorney for the Department of
Justice, was quick to add that it becomes "our cycle, not her
Another added benefit is that there are no negative health risks associated
with natural family planning.
For Kathryn, she acknowledged that her first real knowledge of NFP came in
marriage preparation classes. They were wed at the Basilica of Notre Dame so
they had to follow the requirements of the Diocese of Joliet. That diocese
required couples take an actual NFP course at the hospital.
"I went to a public high school and in sex education class I never once
heard about a woman's true cycle - the indicators of a fertile cycle," she
said. "It's a normal thing, but you never hear about it."
One of the main signs of fertility - mucas - was never mentioned. She
recalled how as a child she and her friends all thought they had something wrong
Forde noted that in a society that is so obsessed with sex, he finds it
incredible that most people are ignorant about women's fertility cycles. Prior
to NFP education, he put himself in that same category.
Kathryn pointed out that in the marriage prep training in the Diocese of
Joliet they learned the Billings method of NFP, but after moving to the Diocese
of Sioux City they took refresher courses in the Creighton model through the
Fertility Care Practitioners at Mercy Medical Center.
For the first two years of their marriage, the couple practiced NFP to avoid
pregnancy, but in recent years they used it to help plan and conceive a child.
After three miscarriages, the Fairchilds welcomed Marygrace into the world on
May 12 this year.
They plan to continue to use NFP. She pointed out that they are presently
moving into uncharted waters with the method as she is nursing their newborn.
They have sought the guidance of the NFP practitioners at Mercy. It is a
blessing for the couple to have access to experts in this field.
Ideally, the couple would like to wait a while - a year or so - before they
have their next child.
It is the Fairchilds' wish that more people would investigate the benefits
and effectiveness of NFP.
"I think NFP is looked down upon as ineffective, old-fashioned and
unnecessary," said Forde.
In reality, statistics show that NFP is 99 percent effective when used to
prevent or postpone pregnancy when used by an instructed and motivated couple.
"NFP can't just be a way to not have kids. You have to use it working
with creation." He added, "NFP has been good for us and I think we are
closer because of it."
Among their Catholic friends, openness to NFP is mixed, but Kathryn believes
that in the secular world as a whole, people appear to look down upon it.
"People tend to not see fertility as a gift," she said.
Forde added, "Don't dismiss NFP because you don't want to be told what
to do. Look into it and consider it and know that there is one couple - who is
very private and embarrassed to talk about this - feel that it is such an
important invitation to intimacy in a relationship that we think it is worth
Vera Ludwig, family programs director for the diocese, affirmed many of the
advantages that the Fairchilds addressed such as increased communication in the
She stressed the fact that while it is in line with the teachings of the
church, they would like couples to use this method because ultimately it
benefits the couple and their marriages.
One of the biggest struggles right now is the availability of instructors.
The Office of Adult and Family Ministries will work with couples to help them
secure the proper instruction necessary to become teaching couples. That office
works with the Office of Hispanic Ministry for couples seeking NFP instruction
If you wish to receive more information about NFP contact Ludwig at (712)