4. It is a shared responsibility – Couple becomes a fertility team.
The husband is fertile all the time while the wife is fertile only a few days of her menstrual cycle. NFP teaches the couple to daily recognize and consider their combined fertility – their ability to conceive new life together. In practicing NFP, each spouse accepts their significant role and responsibility for the effectiveness of the method. Recognizing their combined fertility, husbands and wives team-up in planning their family and discerning God’s will for them.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a helper as his partner….”
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept;
then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman
and brought her to the man.
Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife,
and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18, 21-24)
This passage from scripture reminds us that males and females are both similar (“bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh), as well as different (“this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken”). St. John Paul II reminds us in his writings that even though each individual male and female is complete in the biological, psycho-affective, social and spiritual elements of which they are composed, they are incomplete when they come together as a couple in marriage. He writes, “Womanhood and manhood are complementary not only from the physical and psychological points of view, but also from the ontological. It is only through the duality of the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’ that the ‘human’ finds full realization.” The masculine and feminine, he argues, complement each other to create “unity of the two.”
Theologians, Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, summarize the Church’s teaching on affective complementarity in this way: the “affective (biological, psycho-affective, social, and spiritual) elements are strictly divided according to gender, and comprise essential male and female human natures; only when they are brought together in marriage and sexual acts is the human couple complete.”
Because a couple brings both their similarities and differences to Natural Family Planning, to the extent that they understand how they complement each other to that extent, they can make NFP as effective as possible in their given situation. NFP is a team effort that enables a couple to be responsible parents.
Fehring, Lawrence, D. (2004). Majority of couples experience improved relationships with use of NFP. Current Medical Research Supplement, 15. Retrieved from http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/CMR042004.pdf
Fehring, Lawrence, D., (1994). Spiritual well-being, self-esteem and intimacy. Catholic Medical Association. Retrieved from http://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1024&context=nursing_fac