Introducing! The one (or is it the two…?), the only, the amazing, Jen and Logan!!!
Okay, I’ll calm down, but I’m just really excited that Jen and Logan took a moment to share their NFP experience. I “internet met” Jen back in November, and I’m so thankful I did. She and her husband, Logan, run one of my favorite marriage blogs, Surprised by Marriage. I 100% recommend everything I’ve heard from them so far, and I’m really excited to see where this project takes them.
They’ve been married for 9 years this spring and they have 3 boys 5 and under. Logan is a valet driver by day (mostly) and videographer by night, and Jen is an RN who is currently a stay-at-home-mom to the boys. They learned the Symptothermal method while they were engaged but now use Creighton in conjunction with Symptothermal cross-checks.
What was your longest period of abstinence when TTA (trying to abstain)?
We abstained for 3 months after we lost our first baby because my doctor wanted my body (and mind) to heal before trying to get pregnant again. Since I didn’t ovulate at all during our engagement (while we were first learning NFP), I didn’t know when we conceived and we didn’t want to take any chances while I attempted charting again. After our second living son was born, we had many times we abstained for a month at a time while I tried to figure out my postpartum charting (and we really should have abstained more than that, but we took many “chances” just assuming I wasn’t actually fertile – thankfully we were right).
Was there anything that helped you avoid temptation and frustration while TTA?
No. Haha. Well, maybe being intimate spiritually and emotionally instead of physically. But it was still frustrating!
What made you decide to keep charting instead of switching to artificial birth control or complete abstinence?
Our faith! Birth control was not an option, never was and never will be. We realized the Symptothermal method was not working for us, and even though Creighton had quite the learning curve, we kept with it. We have to abstain completely during our pregnancies, so complete abstinence while not pregnant was not an option for us!
Do you have any final advice for couples considering or using NFP?
NFP is not as easy as it seems and you won’t always see the fruits of it in the midst of the struggles, but if you use it prayerfully and are in constant dialogue together because of it, your marriage will grow stronger. If a certain method is causing too much frustration or too little “safe days”, try a new method. Use a combination of two. But make sure you’re learning from a professional! It took us years to figure out what worked for us and my body but it was well worth it.
They already said it, but I’m going to say it again: Get an instructor. Not every method is for everyone. It might take a few tries before you find a method that works for you, and it could even take a few instructors before you find a good fit. But if you’re dealing with difficulties and confusions using your current method, get a trained set of eyes on your chart, and if that doesn’t work, try a different method before you start to think about throwing in the towel.
Personally, I stopped using Symptothermal fairly quickly and switched to Billings, which fits my life much better. Post-partum, I get really interested in the Marquette method and probably am going to actually learn it one of these days in the likely occasion that I find myself post-baby in the near future.
The cost of instructors and materials, especially for the Creighton and Marquette methods, can be a little steep at the beginning, and when you end up learning multiple methods that can definitely add up, but having an instructor formally teach you a method is indispensable. As Fertility Awareness Methods become more mainstream and get more scientific backing, some of those costs are beginning to be covered by health insurance. Some commentators have suggested that dioceses create a slush fund for low-income families to learn NFP, and some dioceses already do, so it is worth asking.
Jen and Logan have a lot more to say about all thing marriage. Please do check out their website, Surprised by Marriage. I hope you’ll find it as inspiring as I do.
Check out the previous posts in the “NFP in the Trenches” series, and stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come!