Secrets to happy marriages
The secret to a happy marriage
A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquillity had long been the talk of the town.
“What a peaceful & loving couple!” A local newspaper reporter was inquiring as to the secret of their long and happy marriage.
“Well, it dates back to our honeymoon,” explained the man. “We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom on the canyon by horse. We hadn’t gone too far when my wife’s horse stumbled. My wife quietly said, ‘That’s once’.”
“We proceeded a little further and the horse stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly said, ‘That’s twice.’
“We hadn’t gone a half-mile when the horse stumbled the third time. My wife quietly removed a revolver from her purse and shot the horse dead.” I started an angry protest over her treatment to the horse, while I was shouting; She looked at me, and quietly said, ‘That’s once’.
“And we lived happily ever after.”
The importance of family
Family is important to God. He has a unique plan and purpose for every family. The best way to discover what that plan entails is to put Jesus at the centre of our family life. John Paul II said that “God’s purpose for family is that it be a school of love, it be an environment where different members of the family can love and be loved by another.”
Gary Chapman wrote a book called the 5 love languages. In this book it shows how there are 5 different ways of showing love. Each one of these ways is good in and of itself, but in order for a family to truly grow together, all five of them should be present in some form.These 5 ways are:
1. Quality family time. This is time for full and undivided attention. It can be both serious and fun. It might include meals, prayers and outings.
2. Positive speech such as verbal compliments, affirmations, appreciations are powerful communicators of love. These bring honour, respect and acceptance. Frequent putdowns such as sarcasm can bring pain and self doubt. Forgiveness helps to avoid tension. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ and I forgive you are very useful. Politeness is also very useful and indispensable for making living together easier.
3. Gifts are a visible symbols of love. The thought behind the gift is most important. The gift of faith is the greatest gift we can give one another. It is free and will last an eternity. The Magi bring Jesus gifts at his birth: Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Who knows what Jesus would have done with these gifts? Gifts are not a substitute or replacement for other ways of showing love.
4. Physical touch is a way of communicating emotional love. Hugs, pats on the back, hand on a shoulder or other more imtimate expressions are ways to show that we care for each other.
5. Service. Jesus said that he came to serve and not to be served. He washed the feet of his disciples to show how far he was willing to be a servant. Service is doing something you don’t want to do in order to make life easier for someone else.
God wants to be number one in our families. As a communion of persons, the future of humanity passes by way of the family. Brian Butler, a youth minister in the US once told his fiancée, that he wanted to put God first, her second and himself last in the relationships in his life. She wasn’t too happy to hear this- as she wanted to be number one! But we must ask, “What does Jesus want for our family?” St Paul tells us that we should “fill our minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour, and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise.” (Phil 4:8).
How do I find love?
The call to love is so deeply embedded within us that its expression permeates our very culture. There are hundreds of songs and tunes, dating clubs and jewellery stores selling engagement rings prior to weddings. Not only is this call to love entrenched into our society, it is stamped onto the body.
Our very bodies have been designed as a gift to others: by living not just for ourselves we can give life both physically and spiritually to others. Our bodies are stamped with an itching desire. We might have a desire for greatness, a desire to love and be loved, a desire to be honourable and also a sexual desire. These desires, in and of themselves are good.
Our hearts are a battlefield between love and physical attraction. In the act of the will, decisions are made: what to do, where to go, whom to talk to. These choices create the moral fabric of where good meets evil in our lives. What seems like love can be a distortion or perversion by the enemy of love which is selfishness. We can be tricked into thinking that a selfish act for ourselves is actually a kind and loving act. This battlefield is full the captains of self delusion.
The body speaks a language. A man in a defensive posture gives off the impression that he is not open to what is being spoken about. A woman with skimpy clothes, sends the message that she is available or just wishes to flaunt herself. The hand with the wedding ring communicates a love until death commitment to a beloved. The native language of the human heart is truth. C S Lewis said that “Love is the great conqueror of lust.”
Good communication in relationships
According to Father Father Michael Ryan the positive moments and comments in a relationship such as a marriage should outnumber the negative times by about 5 to 1. Our capacity to tolerate negativity has a very short fuse. In his book, “The last straw: ways to overcome the stumbling blocks in communication towards a stronger and happier marriage,” He states that we must avoid hurting others in every way such as with words or actions. Then we must also foster an atmosphere in which one can express the other what is hurting. Then we must also accept the fact that we can hurt others when we don’t intend to. He states that a happy marriage has the following character traits: the couple spends quality and quantity time together, they know how to express affection for each other, they show commitment to family life, they can discuss in a constructive way and they share spiritual values. Sometimes marriages can break up because of misunderstandings that could have been avoided. To look for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of wisdom.
What build up relationships, and what hinders them?
The Church has consistently implored the world to focus on families as the root and foundation of society. Tightly-knit, faithful, Catholic families (a domestic church in themselves) have the potential to influence whole communities. The building up of patience, unconditional love and forgiveness are indispensable virtues in marriage. Communication and conflict resolution are also essential skills in a marriage. Love is a choice and not just a feeling.
Relationships help you discover your own goodness. Good and satisfying relationships are developed by men and women who have a focus of being a friend. Success in relationships is measured by what you do in them, not by how the other person responds. Relationships are a gift, not a right.
Healthy relationships are built on love, service, honour, acceptance, forgiveness, submission and encouragement. Certain attitudes and behaviours hinder relationships. Mistrust, perceptions, expectations, irritability, blame, self pity, being judgemental and critical, being unreliable, under communicating, jealousy, envy, conditional love and letting your choice to love become a burden can all help create destructive relationships.
Is cohabitation a good way to test your marriage beforehand?
Most studies do not seem to show this. The sociology Department of both Duke University and Michigan University interviewed 30,000 couples who married after living together. The sociologists found that 80% of the marriages arising from cohabitation ended in separation or divorce. Would an 80% failure rate indicate that a cohabiting couple actually does not get to know each other very well? Living together offers little or no guarantee of a happy, successful marriage. [“Cohabitation is a dishonest relationship”, Ed Cunningham, The Courier, 5/2002; Family Foundations, Jan/Feb2003]
Freedom without responsibility is the opposite of love. The greater the sense of commitment, the more a person is willing to give of themselves and this is an indispensable requirement for marriage. The more often and the longer that men and women cohabit, the more likely they are to divorce later.  More than half of all these unions dissolve within five years, according to one study cited by the Vanier Institute of the family. Typically, they last about 18 months. Cohabitants are more likely to be unfaithful. They are also much more likely to suffer from depression than married people.  Children born to cohabitants are far more likely to experience disruptions to their family life with an inevitable mental and psychological upheaval.
Those who think that marriage is some kind of legal contract will be far more willing, when difficulties come, to bail out and emphasize the conditionality of the contract. Living together prior to marriage sets a bad precedent. In reality it is the dissolution of traditional boundaries surrounding marriage. Hebrews 13:4 tells us: “Let marriage be honoured among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.” Living together disregards the sanctity of the marriage bed because it’s already occupied beforehand.
Living together dissolves that important time of discernment and preparation prior to marriage, helping couples decide whether it is healthy and good for them to live together for the rest of their lives. Marriages can’t be ‘test driven’ because one can only enter it in good faith and hope- there can be no dress rehearsal, because a true marriage can’t be undone. Engagement is the time to set solid foundations to help the strength of a marriage, building up trust, co-operation, fidelity and companionship. Cohabitation undermines this trust because both partners are aware that it is perfectly possible for them to bail out at any point. Cohabitation is not good preparation for marriage: it does not involve the building up of the virtues- rather it is an exercise in convenience rather than purity and true love.
JD Unwin, an anthropologist of the 1930s discovered that sexual license is always “the immediate cause of cultural decline.” He found that “In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on premarital and extramarital continence.” In every verifiable case, he found once a group became sexually permissive, “the energy of the society…decreased and finally disappeared.” Essentially- what is at stake over the culture wars over marriage and family is the healthy continuation of our society. He found that societies would collapse if they became too sexually permissive, because fewer and fewer citizens were concerned with the building up of the next generation and the righteousness of society.
 http://www.civitas.org.uk/hwu/cohabitation.pdf, http://www.jennifer-roback-morse.com/articles/cohab_fast_facts.html  Waite, L. and Gallagher, M., The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, New York: Doubleday, 2000, p. 46.  Wellings, K., Field, J., Johnson, and A., Wadsworth, J., Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, London: Penguin Books, 1994, p. 116; Steinhaiser, J., ‘No marriage, no apologies’,New York Times, 6 July 1995.  Mastekaasa, A., ‘Marital status, distress and well-being: an international comparison’, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 25, No. 2, 1994, p. 183; Kurdek, L.A., ‘The relations between reported well-being and divorce history, availability of a proximate adult, and gender’,Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 53, February 1991, pp. 71-78; Robins, L. and Reiger, D., Psychiatric Disorders in America, New York: Free Press, 1990; Horwitz and White, ‘The relationship of cohabitation and mental health’, 1998.
What is the point of marriage?
In his great book, Marriage and the mystery of faithful love, Von Hildebrand discusses the nature of conjugal love. He believes it requires a decision, a risk and self giving. The lover cares more for his beloved than for his own life. A marriage is made in the decision of the two persons. The only authentic reason for this is mutual love and a belief that the commitment will lead to the eternal welfare of both spouses.
Marriage invites us to fight selfishness. Couples are called to save the precious gift of their love by victory over self. He who refuses to commit fools himself. A trial marriage is a stupidity of ‘unspeakable shabbiness.’ But not every single person is called to marriage. There are some who are called to be single. Those who decide to remain virgins are called to fill their hearts with the most intense and vital love. Von Hildebrand applies a warning to them, “Woe to those in this superior status, who instead of becoming more ardent and more sensitive, are affected by a certain hard heartedness which removes from them further from God than they originally approached Him by their renunciation.” (Marriage and the mystery of faithful love, Von Hildebrand, p76).
Dietrich von Hildebrand stated that procreation was the primary end of marriage, while love was its meaning. Wedded love, he says, is what ‘ennobles sex,’ which seems to be saying that, if procreation is the final cause of marriage, married love is its formal cause. To be in a marriage is to be a guardian of the other person’s solitude. When a couple marries they find that, although they may not be aware of them, there is a series of sequential psychological tasks to address together. Achieving these tasks helps the couple to deal with the inevitable major changes – accidental or developmental – that will occur and that have the potential for weakening or re-enforcing the relationship throughout the marriage. Marriage helps us to overcome being selfish, self absorbed hedonists by opening us to others by mutual aid and self giving.
Is sexual desire good or bad?
Sexual desire is a good and natural thing. A desire to be sexually attractive and a good lover are good things. To be a slave to your sexuality is not a good thing. Sexuality is a precious gift, which many of us need to reclaim from the distortion and manipulation of what we have turned it into. The sad reality is, many of us have received our sexual formation from unreliable sources, such as the media, schoolyard gossip or worse still, pornography. Some of us have had our purity and innocence taken away by sexual abuse.
If our sexuality is twisted it will take time to untie the knots, but it is something we must do to offer ourselves fully in a relationship. To give oneself in entirety, our sexual desires need to be in good order. The quest for purity is a battle. Regardless of your past, pornography, masturbation, fantasies, homosexuality, sexual abuse, making out, you can turn around and reclaim your sexuality and your purity through patience and perseverance. The support of other men or women pursuing the same goal is also very helpful.
CS Lewis described sex outside marriage as a monstrosity because it is an attempt to isolate one kin of union (sexual) from all the other types of union. Christianity does not hold anything against sexual pleasure, but one should not isolate the pleasure by itself in the same way that you would not isolate the pleasure of eating from digestion.
Lewis dispelled the notion that falling in love is an event that is entirely out of our control. Books, films and television are responsible for promoting this type of propaganda. Lewis wrote that it is extremely dangerous to take one impulse and set it up as the only thing to follow at all costs.
What hormones are released in sexual activity?
Powerful hormones are released in the brains of men and women that produce lasting bonds with their partner during sexual activity. The most influential hormones are oxytocin and vasopressin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is released during childbirth and nursing that causes the mother to bond with her infant. It is also released during sexual activity and acts like an emotional superglue between partners (The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, M.D., Bantam Press, 2006). Both men and women have oxytocin and release it during sexual activity. Women are more affected by Oxytocin and more by vasopressin. Vasopressin enables a man to bond with his partner and gives him a protective instinct toward his partner and children.
This bonding effect of sex can be compared to duct taping a couple’s arms together. If you can imagine ripping off that tape off, and then using that same tape to apply the tape to a new person’s arm. With switching partners several times, skin and hair left on the tape reduces the adhesiveness of the tape and it does not stick as easily. The same is true of sex. Research shows that the ability to bond and produce oxytocin is damaged by the stress hormones at a break up.
Just like the remains on the duct tape, previous sexual experiences damage the ability to bond correctly. Oxytocin levels can return to normal if sexual activity is stopped and time is given for physical and emotional healing. But what if that duct tape was never removed? The duct tape would begin to feel like a part of the arm and the adhesion would be strong. When a couple waits until marriage to have sex, oxytocin and vasopressin increase the biological bond between husband and wife.
What other chemicals are involved in sexual intercourse?
We have known about the sex hormones, testosterone and oestrogen, for years, but these are responsible for establishing our sexuality, which is quite different from the concept of love. Pheromones, which are olfactory or smelly substances, may be partially responsible for initially attracting a man to a woman or vice versa. That initial giddiness that comes when we’re first falling in love is associated with a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms.
This is due to the release of the chemicals dopamine, noradrenaline and phenylethylamine. Dopamine and phenylethylamine (which is also contained in chocolate) are the “pleasure chemicals,” producing feelings of bliss and well-being. Noradrenaline produces a racing heart and a feeling of excitement. Researchers have used functional MRI scans of the brain to watch what happens when someone looks at a photograph of their loved one.
The scans show increased blood flow to areas of the brain with high concentrations of dopamine receptors which are associated with states of euphoria, craving and also addiction. There is also increased flow to the noradrenaline receptors, which cause heightened attention and short-term memory, hyperactivity and promote goal-oriented behaviour. In other words, couples in this stage of love focus intently on the relationship and often on little else. However, with time, this effect changes, and as I think we all know, as our relationship matures, love deepens and begins to mean other things to us. Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, are also released during sex, and they play a key role in long-term relationships by producing a general sense of well-being, including feeling soothed, peaceful and secure.
What are some different family models?
Many social scientists have devised different models for looking at the family. Carle C Zimmerman, author of Family and Civilization, describes three separate understandings of the family: Trustee, domestic and atomistic. The trustee family considers itself immortal, living in union with those who have come before them. The present members are just trustees of the blood, name and position of their kin for their lifetime before they must hand on their heritage. This type of family sees itself as never being extinguished and only societies that have been based on the trustee family have been able to develop into civilizations.
The domestic family is a unit based on the union of husband, wife and children. There are family duties as well as individual rights to consider in this model. In the atomistic family, individuals have more importance than the family ties as it exists for the individual’s pleasure. All three models have a very different understanding of marriage and the family. The trustee family considers it a mystical reality and sacred covenant. The domestic family believes marriage and family is a moral tradition or contract. The atomistic family sees marriage and family as a convenient means of companionship or a cocoon from which to escape from.
Children are for the trustee family a blessing from God, indispensable economic agents or the domestic family and economic liabilities, expenses and obstacles to personal fulfilment for the atomistic family. A father is a patriarch and Priest king for the trustee family, a CEO of society’s fundamental economic unit for the domestic family and for the atomistic family a pathetic figure who must be left behind in order for an individual to grow. Perhaps most strikingly, sexual immorality is for the trustee family a criminal act, an individual sin for the domestic family and a private matter, choice or alternative lifestyle for the atomistic family.
A society which has reached the atomistic family stage has shown signs that it is in its ultimate decline. When individual rights trump the rights of the weakest in society there is potential for grave consequences. The weakest in society will be crushed by the strongest. Zimmerman shows the transition from domestic to atomistic family happens relatively fast as the ties that link to future to the past are severed.
For many, family life in Britain closely resembles the atomistic family. Legal decisions often places individual choices higher than family rights. The legal recognition of civil partnerships, the abolition of a need for a father for IVF treatment and the widespread culture of promiscuity have contributed towards a culture of death. Overwhelming research that shows that the traditional family unit is the healthiest and happiest society in which to be brought up in. A society that continually undermines marriage and the family is one that is bound to self destruct. As a fundamental pillar and bedrock of society, family life must be supported and nurtured for the wellbeing of society.
Preparation for marriage
Many people are willing to spend hundreds of hours in preparing for their own wedding day, but far less time actually preparing for their marriage. The aim of this booklet is to bring about the success of future marriages.
Many people think that the Church is entirely negative about sex. The understood mentality is, “If it feels good, then definitely don’t do it.” Few people think that actually following the ten commandments is actually something that is going to bring them happiness. But God has placed his clues about human sexuality all around so that our joy might be complete.
Marriage can be highly romantic. Couples who pray together have a higher sexual satisfaction. God’s first commandment is the Bible is to have sex. In Genesis 1:28 we read: “Be fruitful and multiply.” The world does not want you to think about sex, only to dream, crave and slaver for it. God intended sex to be the marriage vows made flesh. It is possible to say your wedding vows with your body. These vows a promise to be free (holding nothing back), total (a true gift), faithful (exclusive and permanent) and fruitful (open to life). The world looks to thwart these promises, making sex restricted or forced, temporary, disloyal and sterile. The theology of the Church is not imposed on anyone, but it is the uncovering of God’s original design. When we realise how generous God has been with us that we have a lover, it is time to return the favour of generosity. After all, God can never be outdone in generosity.
Preparation for marriage is not something that happens several months prior to the wedding. Now is the time to build a happy and successful foundation of marriage. The beauty of purity and clarity of mind is something that holds good stead for the rest of one’s life. Trust and self control are things especially needed when both close and far from your wife. Purity with practice is certainly a challenge. To be ready for the huge gift of one’s spouse will not leave you empty handed at the Altar, but will help you to come with a gift to give to Jesus.
Chastity is something caught not taught. Abstinence is the lack of sexual activity. In itself it is not a virtue, but simply abstaining from action. Some people might be abstinent because they have chosen to, others because they cannot get a date. It tells us little about the spiritual state of a person.
Chastity on the other hand is a positive virtue, to be thought only in association with love. Chastity stems from the latin adjective ‘castus’ which means pure. Chastity is about living an integrated and well balanced life. It respects the fact that sex is sacred and a great gift from God. All Christians are called to chastity, whether married, single or celibate. This great virtue gives us purity in mind, heart and conscience and prepares our souls for love. Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love. This virtue gives us self control, spiritual strength and is a certain path to happiness.
Marriage is one the greatest images on earth of God’s love. St Paul states how this union is a mystery how two become one flesh. In the Catholic Church, there are two sacraments where a person becomes a sacrament. In the Eucharist, Christ becomes a sacrament. In marriage the will of two people make a sacrament. St Francis de Sales said that marriage is the greatest form of mortification on earth. But it can be something that will save us from ourselves. But God soaks couples with dollops of grace in order to live out marriage. If we are in a state of sin, we do not receive these graces in order to live out marriage.
Erotic love poetry in the Bible: Song of songs
St Thomas Aquinas asked to have the book of song of songs read to him on his death bed. It is a book which contains erotic love poetry. Many rabbis in years past were not allowed to read the material in fear that it might offend their ears.
The book starts with a yearning for an embrace: “O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!” (1:1). The writing oozes with scintillating analogies, similes and cravings as the author is ‘sick with love.’ (2:5). The imagery of love is vivid and alive as the writer proclaims: “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag,” (2:9) and “Your hair is like a flock of goats, moving down the slopes of Gilead.” (4:1). The author’s heart is ravished (4:9) for the sake of his beloved, whom he also calls a sister and bride. The author lovingly describes his lover’s anatomy in a litany of praise, “Your neck is like an ivory tower, your rounded thighs are like jewels.” (7:4, 1). For those who are reluctant to read the Bible because they perceive it to be boring, this book is the perfect introduction!
The topic of human sexuality is of immense importance and interest to many people. Despite this, there is a great degree of ignorance on the issue. This is partly due to poor teaching and misinformation over many decades. If we spread the truth and meaning of human sexuality to others, the ignorance and misinformation will not last much longer.
Natural fertility awareness is a beautiful gift. It has the ability to educate, empower and enhance marriage and family life. That is why couples that use contraception in their marriage typically have a divorce rate of 40%, while couples from all denominations who use NFP have a divorce rate of 2%.()
There is a wonderful story in the book of Tobit. Tobias prays that he may have nobility in his marriage because it is based on stable foundations. Read this is a wondrous bedtime prayer.
When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobias arose from bed and said to his wife, ‘My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.’ She got up, and they started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. He began with these words: “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen,” (Tobit 8:4-9, NAB).
What is natural fertility awareness?
This booklet is not meant to be a full guide about natural fertility awareness. If you wish to find out more, I thoroughly recommend you to book a relatively inexpensive arrangement with an NFP (natural family planning) practitioner.
NFP is a method of family planning that is highly reliable, medically safe and inexpensive. The understanding of how the body works is a great act of self discovery. NFP understands fertility as not something to be suppressed or manipulated, but as a normal bodily function. NFP encourages a shared responsibility for fertility between husband and wife. This normally leads to a deeper level of care and respect in a relationship. NFP promotes love, respect and communication between husband and wife and prepares them for further children.
NFP respects the design of the human body, leads to deeper intimacy and encourages self respect and self worth. In the words of Paul VI, NFP, “favours attention for one’s partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility.” (Humanae Vitae, n.21). NFP couples are less likely to divorce, be more receptive to children and they renew their wedding vows each time they practice the marital act. Most strikingly of all, NFP is more effective than any method of contraception at preventing pregnancy, and is equally as effective as IVF in achieving pregnancy.
Natural Family Planning involves the woman checking her fertility by observing simple signs such as changes in cervical mucus and temperature on waking. As a woman can only conceive for a short time each month, the knowledge of when this phase happens enables the couple to avoid or achieve pregnancy.
The decision not to use contraception can only be good for the couple who make it. Respect for the meaning and purpose of marital sex in God’s plan is usually lavishly rewarded. Couples that use contraception find it harder when they have ‘surprise’ pregnancies. As they have actively tried to stop sex causing conception, they find it harder to welcome unconditionally the child that has been conceived.
Different Methods of NFP
Two different models of NFP are the ovulation method and symptothermal methods.
Ovulation methods: This method is based on the observation and sensation of cervical mucus, which becomes clear, wet and stretchy when the woman reaches ovulation. This is the best indicator of fertility. The Billings method is an example. The Fertilitycare (Creighton) method is based on the Billings method. A woman records her observations on a chart, and is taught patterns that show the fertile and infertile times in her cycle.
Symptothermal methods involve the woman taking her temperature every day, as well as observing cervical mucus and charting her cycle. Instructors of this method may advise observing other changes in the cervix.
There are some new technologies available for checking fertility. These include ladycomp, bioself, safe and persona. These are helpful and vary in success rates.
The Creighton (FertilityCare) Model of NFP
The Creighton model is one of the best models of natural fertility awareness. This model relies on biological indicators that are signs of human fertility. The model helps couples to sees precisely on what days it is possible to become pregnant during a woman’s cycle. This knowledge enhances the ability to achieve or avoid pregnancy. This model is 99.5% effective for avoiding pregnancy (). This makes it the most effective method of avoiding pregnancy, more than the contraceptive bill and barrier methods. When used to achieve pregnancy, the model is 76% effective in the first cycle and 98% within 6 months. The model is the most effective way to pinpoint ovulation.
The model can help couples to discover alternative ways of intimacy other than genital intercourse. Many couples have mentioned a sort of honeymoon effect after short periods of abstinence. Fertility becomes a shared responsibility between men and women and this facilitates deeper communication between couples. This leads to a deeper level of care and respect between couples and a strengthening of their relationship. There are several markers in the Creighton model that help to show the depth of risk of infertility or miscarriage. Early treatment is the best option for combating infertility. The method teaches couples how to care for their fertility, helping them detect and prevent gynaecological problems.
The model helps couples to appreciate and value the mystery of fertility and self knowledge. Many people are coming to realise the significance of protecting and preserving one’s fertility. It has been reported that around one in six couples have infertility problems in the UK. As there are no harmful side effects of NFP from any synthetic hormones, normal fertility is permitted in the way it was designed. A familiarity with the natural rhythms of your body helps to generate self respect and self worth. As the Creighton model requires no medical intervention or monitoring, couples themselves learn how to become their own fertility experts. The model is inexpensive to learn about and certainly substantially cheaper than forms of contraception. As a method of family planning it is not a method of contraception.
The Creighton model can be adapted to every woman. It is able to be used whether a woman has regular, irregular or annovulatory cycles, is pre-menopausal, post pill or breastfeeding. This model can be used for any situation during the reproductive life of a woman. Women are empowered because they learn so much about their fertility. This model is founded upon genuine scientific research. The method is easy to use. Biological markers are observed and tracked. The Creighton model can be combined with Naprotechnology, a new reproductive science in order to monitor and treat infertility, miscarriage, irregular cycles, hormone problems, pre-menstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, unusual bleeding patterns and heavy painful periods.
An explanation of basic biology
NFP is valuable as couples learn the basics of anatomy and physiology. Men who are virile are constantly fertile as they produce sperm every day. The head of the sperm has the genetic material and the tail propels the sperm to try to reach the egg. As sperm are sensitive to heat, male genitalia are located on the outside of the body to help with better temperature regulation.
Women on the other hand, are infertile for most of the month. There is only a limited time in an entire month when women are fertile. Despite this, many women resort to all types of hormones, devices and barriers for the entire month! The main female reproductive organs are the uterus, tubes and ovaries. The uterus is a thick muscle with a uterine cavity inside. The hormones, which regulate the menstrual cycle, are produced in the ovaries. The two fallopian tubes must be open in order for the egg or embryo to pass through. The cervix is at the bottom of the uterus, just above the vagina. This critical organ is where cervical mucus is produced. This is the main sign of a woman’s fertility and must be present for pregnancy to occur. Cervical mucus is similar to nasal mucus.
Most women do not have a textbook cycle of 28 days, with ovulation happening on day 14 of each cycle. Only approximately 13% of women actually ovulate on day 14 of the cycle. Cycles are usually short (less than 23 days), regular (23-38 days) or long (more than 38 days). The phases are the same in every phase. The pre-ovulation phase is when the woman has her menstrual bleed for 3-7 days. This is followed by dry infertile days. After this, a woman has a number of mucus days (these are fertile) leading up to ovulation. Once ovulation has occurred, there is a sudden change in mucus production and the rest of the cycle is usually dry and infertile. The pre-peak phase can vary in length, but the post peak phase is usually stable and last about 13 or 14 days.
The ovulation cycle also happens every month in the ovaries. At the start of the cycle, an egg is selected to grow and develop within a follicle and the hormone oestrogen is produced. The follicle matures until it is ready for the egg to be released at the day of ovulation. Afterwards, the follicle collapses as it is empty. It then begins to produce the hormone progesterone. Ovulation happens on only one day each cycle. If there are multiple ovulations (for example, for non identical twins), these occur in the same 24 hour time period. It is possible to check the day of ovulation by observing changes in the mucus pattern. The ovulation day (or peak day) is the last day of any mucus that is stretchy (one inch or more), clear in colour or lubricative (a sensation felt when wiping). An observational routine and recording system can be taught to women in order to help them accurately observe throughout the month and pinpoint the day of ovulation.
After ovulation, the egg only survives between 12-24 hours if it is not fertilized. Cervical mucus keeps sperm alive and acts like a carrier for the sperm to pass through the cervix and helps to separate out abnormal sperm. Mucus is essential for wholesome fertility. Good mucus influences how long sperm will last: with it sperm can live for 3-5 days, without it, the sperm will die within hours. The cervix works is like a biological valve. For most of the month, there is a thick plug like mucus high in the cervix, but no mucus visible at the opening of the vagina. During ovulation time, the cervix opens up and there is a fertile mucus that exists in the cervix that is visible at the opening of the vagina. The visible mucus indicates fertile days. Fertility is dependant on 3 factors- good sperm, good eggs and good mucus.
FertilityCare practitioners can instruct couples how to chart patterns. If abnormal charting patterns exist, practitioners can use Naprotechnology medical doctors to address and treat problems (such as infertility or reproductive issues). Because early ovulation can occur as a woman nears the menopause, a woman can get pregnant during her period. Women who are charting can detect this because they see the mucus much earlier in the cycle than they normally would. Late ovulation can occur when a woman has acute stress during the mucus build up.
If couples want to avoid pregnancy, instructions are given on about using the many dry infertile days in the cycle. If couples desire to achieve pregnancy, they focus intercourse during the fertile mucus days. So this approach can be used very effectively to avoid, identify and monitor fertility.
If used to avoid pregnancy, the Creighton Model is 99.5% effective. This is more effective than both the pill and condoms. () If used to achieve pregnancy, effectiveness is 76% for the first attempted cycle, and 98% for 6 attempted cycles. () This information is empowering for couples as they know whether they are fertile or infertile on any given day. Professional instruction is essential for a proper use of the method. This model, through its educative and insightful methods, enables couples to begin to appreciate their fertility and the children that may result from its use. It also enables women and couples to be active participants in monitoring, preserving and protecting their fertility and reproductive health for the future.
Comparing natural fertility awareness with contraception
The oral contraceptive pill is a chemical that interferes with normal healthy fertility. Janet Smith mentions in her CD, ‘Contraception, Why not?’ the history of research into contraception. It was discovered that an early contraceptive prototype for men physically shrunk the testes. These tests were stopped immediately. Some tests were performed on women with some forms of the pill. Several women died in the process, so they just lowered the dosage and put the drug on the mass market.
Truth and lies with the language of the body
The pill tricks the female body into thinking that it is pregnant. This is a form of lying with the body. Its aim is to alter and change the female menstrual cycle. One woman recently said that if she knew that it would take 5 years for her cycle to return to normal after using the pill, she would never have taken it in the first place. Confucius said, “If words lose meaning society will lose itself.” If you buy contraceptives from the pharmacy, often the receipt will not state exactly what you are purchasing, rather a euphemism is used. When an X rated “adult” film is paid for in a hotel, it is not normally shown on the receipt so that you company does not fire you for misuse of expenses. Non Government Organisations campaign for the promotion of contraception and abortion under the agenda and pseudo language of reproductive rights and services. There is no such thing as an ‘unwanted’ pregnancy. A pregnancy is wanted in the language of the body in the act of sexual intercourse, as there is always a possibility of conception. When things can’t be called what they actually are, we can lose touch with reality and can a true bearing on reality.
Nicole Parker, a fertilitycare practioner says, “When a woman chemically withholds her fertility in the act of love-making, she psychologically and spiritually makes the act sterile. Since her fertility is part of the essence of what makes her female, she is withholding an integral part of her femininity.” It is normal principle of surgery never to disturb the function of a normal structure except as may be necessary for the effective treatment of a related disorder.
The Holy See’s charter of the rights of the family in 1983 reiterated the right for families to decide on the spacing of births and the number of children to be born. This right is seen in light of the objective moral order that excludes recourse to sterilization, contraception or abortion. Planned parenthood and the Holy See agree that on the right of families to decide on the number of children and the spacing of births. So why is there such divergence on the practice of family planning between these two institutions?
The answer is that contraception causes a division between babies and bonding the two purposes of sex. Such a rupture damages the integrity of the union of two persons and leaves one open to use rather than love your partner.
Rather than giving oneself fully, contraception is a lie that is a step back from the total gift of self and the intimacy of the marital act. In a word, contraception is a lie with the body. Contraception damages the intimacy between husband and wife, invites selfish behaviour into the marital act and opens the door to greater infidelity. Christopher West writes that the real problem behind women’s oppression is the failure of men to treat them properly and therefore contraception is a sure way to keep women in chains. If a women is constantly sexually available, for many men, she becomes less attractive.
At a pre-wedding party, a book was laid out for the guests to write down their thoughts on marriage. Typical to our age, the majority of comments were negative. One guest had written that marriage is, “Institutionalized prostitution.” Saint Augustine, in his work against the Manichees (who denied procreation), he said they made the “Bridal chamber a brothel.”() Perhaps this is what can happen when chastity within marriage is totally ignored.
Contraception is not deemed immoral because it is artificial. After all, the Church approves of many artificial drugs and inventions that man has invented. There has been no papal pronouncements against the use of paracetamol or vitamin tablets. Contraception prevents the natural functioning of the body and denies the purpose God designed the act to have. No method of contraception is 100% effective to date. Contraception interrupts, sterilizes and works against conception whereas NFP respects the body as God designed it and works with this plan.
The saints and early Church fathers were opposed to contraception. St John Chrysostom regarded marriage as for “companionship and procreation.”() St Jerome said a marital act was lustful unless open for the possibility of procreation. St Augustine said “What food is to the health of man, intercourse is to the health of the race” and “the procreation of children is the first and natural and lawful reason for marriage” St Albert said that “Every act frustrated in it is essential and natural end is vain and evil. St Francis de Sales saw procreation as the “primary and principal end of marriage.”
At a Catholic marriage, couples make a vow before God and the witnesses that they will welcome children lovingly from God, and they give themselves completely to their spouse. Contraception contradicts these vows because the language of the body is not living these vows in the flesh. Couples that withhold their fertility from each other, leave sterile acts that have negative influences on marriage. In the book of Acts (chapter 5:1-11), Ananias and Saphira go through the motions of a giving act but defraud it of its meaning.
To use an analogy, contraception is like bulimia whereas NFP is like dieting. Contraception binges on the act and then purges out the effects. NFP abstains at certain times to avoid the outcome and is far healthier. The end never justifies the means. Using NFP does not mean you have to have 25 children. Many people still think that NFP is only the rhythm method. This method was not successful at preventing pregnancy.
Some contraceptives are abortifacients.
The pill has mechanisms that can cause a woman to have an abortion before she even knows that she has conceived. One of the ways the pill acts is by the thinning of the uterus. The prevention of implantation means that the pill is both a contraceptive and an abortifacient. Randy Alcorn has written a booklet entitled: Does the birth control pill cause abortions?
The pill is damaging to the body
Let us consider how ‘safe’ the oral contraceptive pill is. The pill affects the blood clotting ability of the body, leading to a significant increase in risk of heart disease. Women on the pill are up to five times more likely to have a stroke than non pill users and three times more likely to have a heart attack.()
According to PDRhealth.com, the side effects are “Depression, loss of menstrual periods, migraine, nausea, vomiting, water retention, weight gain, yeast infection…. Chest pain, coughing up blood, or shortness of breath (indicating a possible blood clot in the lung)… Crushing chest pain or heaviness (indicating a possible heart attack)… Sudden partial or complete loss of vision (indicating a possible blood clot in the eye); Breast lumps (indicating possible breast cancer or fibrocystic breast disease); Severe pain or tenderness in the stomach (indicating a possible liver tumor)….”
The pill increases the risk of cancer in women of childbearing age. When taking hormonal contraceptives, “teenagers are especially vulnerable to breast cancer risk because their breasts are growing,” says the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.
According to the Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain(), some versions of the pill increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis by 5 times.
The birth control pill increases a woman’s chance of having breast cancer, cervical cancer and liver cancer. Twenty one of twenty three studies of women who took the pill before their first child showed increased risk of breast cancer. Birth control pills meddle with a woman’s immune system, making her more likely to contract certain STDs.
The pill can cause more than 150 biological changes in a woman according to the textbook of contraceptive practice. This can include gallbladder disease, headache, bleeding irregularities, ectopic pregnancy, yeast infection, changes to the curvature of the eye, excessive hair growth in unusual places, acne, and partial or complete loss of vision.() There are many effects of the pill that are yet to be fully understood in the way they damage and upset the delicate yet beautiful aspects of womanhood.
Hormonal contraceptives are not medication but steroids intended to disrupt a normal, functioning reproductive system. The World Health Organization recognizes estrogen in combined oral contraceptive pills (COCs) as carcinogenic. Women who took COCs before age 20 increased their risk of dying from breast cancer by 820%. Pharmaceutical companies do not want people to know about these effects because it would seriously dent their profits.
Research shows how pill ages cervix
Research by Professor Erik Odeblad shows that the pill ages a woman’s cervix twice as quickly. In other words, a 24-year-old woman who has been on the Pill since she was 12 (as is not uncommon) and is now married and wants to have children may be shocked to find that she has the cervix of a 36-year-old woman!
Prof. Erik Odeblad is Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Medical Biophysics, University of Umeå, Sweden, and he has done a lot of research () into the cervix and he has described the progressive aging of the cervix, ascending squamous metaplasia with diminution of crypt bearing areas, with use of the oral contraceptive pill.
Professor Erik Odeblad said: “Complications arising from the use of the Pill are very frequent. Infertility after its use for 7-15 years is a very serious problem. S crypts are very sensitive to normal and cyclical stimulation by natural oestrogens, and the Pill causes atrophy of these crypts. Fertility is impaired since the movement of sperm cells up the canal is reduced. Treatment is difficult.” He also wrote: “After 3 to 15 months of contraceptive pill use, there is a greater loss of the S crypt cells than can be replaced … A pregnancy rejuvenates the cervix by 2-3 years, but for each year the Pill is taken, the cervix ages by an extra year.”
Science that points towards the beauty of faith.
There are medical signs of the beauty of natural fertility awareness. The British Medical Journal () reported on the efficacy of Natural Family Planning. According to the World Health Organisation, 93% of women everywhere can identify with the symptoms of NFP, that distinguish between the fertile and the infertile stages of the menstrual cycle. Pregnancy rates depend on the motivation of couples. A study of 19,843 poor women in India had a pregnancy rate approaching zero. NFP is cheap, effective and without side effects. (BMJ 1993;307:723-726 (18 September), “Natural family planning”: effective birth control supported by the Catholic Church).
A man’s semen offers protection against preeclampsia. This is the third leading cause of woman dying during childbirth. Pre-eclampsia affects about 7% of pregnant women. Women who are not exposed to a partner’s sperm prior to pregnancy because the couple used condoms risk this problem. When the uterus is repeatedly exposed to sperm, a woman’s immune system gets used to this “foreign” genetic material. Women can have an immune reaction if they do not have prior exposure.
Women who used barrier methods who had been having sex with their partners for less than 4 months prior to getting pregnant had a 6.5 fold increased risk of getting pre-eclampsia (), compared with those who did not use barrier methods and who had been in a sexual relationship for more than 12 months.
Jesus said in the Gospel that in marriage the two become on flesh (Mark 10:6-9). Hormones from the man can be detected in a woman’s blood stream within hours of intercourse (Archives of sexual behaviour, Volume 31, Number 3, pp 289-293, by G.G. Gallup Jr: R.L. Burch; S.M. Patek).
According to Reuters in London (2002),() hormones in semen have been shown to make women feel good. Women whose partners don’t use condoms are less likely to feel down. Hormones in semen may help to ease female depression. Scientists at the State University of New York suspect that the mood altering hormones are absorbed through the vagina and make women feel good.
Sperm is good for a woman’s body. Man’s seminal fluid has at least two dozen ingredients, such as estrogens, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, transforming growth beta-factor, and several different prostaglandins. During intercourse, the woman’s body absorbs these. Researchers have shown how they help the health of the woman, help mature her uterus and even protect the mammary gland from cancer. A woman’s body becomes used to the man’s sperm.
Contraception does not deliver what it promises
The Guttmacher Institute (research arm of planned parenthood) states that there is no correlation between better access to contraception and lower abortion rates. The British medical journal showed in 10 studies worldwide that widespread availability of contraception and abortion made no appreciable difference to pregnancy or abortion rates. Even Alfred Kinsey, a lynchpin of the sexual revolution, realised that “At the risk of sounding repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortion in the group which, in general, most frequently used contraceptives.”
Last year, there was a 17.4% pregnancy rate for condom users over a 12 month period. But that includes pregnancies for women in their late 30s and 40s- teenagers are another story. 23.2% who rely on condoms will become pregnant in a year.
Condom failure rates for STDs are worse. An article in the journal of sexually transmitted diseases by Fitch and al. said that none of the studies they showed any STD risk reduction for condom users, not even for those who always used condoms.
The pill damages the environment
The contraceptive pill is a major cause of male infertility in the West and is also polluting the environment. According to a recent document by the international federation of Catholic Doctors, “an essential issue that is becoming increasingly urgent is the presence of hormones in drinking water, mainly caused by the pill. We have to take notice of the fact that over the last fifty years spermatozoa levels in men have dropped by 50%. The pill also causes metabolic changes, psychiatric disturbances and disturbances in sexual behaviour. The possibility of malformations in children during or after use of the pill should also be taken into consideration.”()
According to Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, President of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, the Pill “has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature through female urine”.
Environmental groups have yet to fully realise the damage that oral contraceptives may be doing to our ecosystem. The unintended consequences of synthetic, anabolic, carcinogenic, nonbiodegradable sex steroids drugs are still being studied (these steroids are also known as the pill).
The myth of overpopulation
The overpopulation myth has been around for quite a long time. It has never been true. Malthus recommended killing the poor to save resources for the rich. He blamed medical advances for causing a surplus of humanity.
Malthus said, “All the children born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons. . . To act consistently therefore, we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavouring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations.”()
Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University wrote the population bomb in 1968, perpetuating the myth that human reproduction has doomed us all. Ehrlich predicted famines the decade after publication of his book:
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”()
The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) receives hundreds of millions of dollars every year to reduce the number of people in developing nations.
Jacqueline Kasun in her book, The war against population, successfully debunks the population myth with considerable style. She shows the economics and ideology of population control that has been generated. Mark Steyn has argued, once populations lose the primal instinct to reproduce, they also lose the will to defend themselves, create wealth and generally improve society.
The biologist Francis P. Felice has shown that all the people in the world could be put into the state of Texas, forming one giant city with a population density less than that of many existing cities, and leaving the rest of the world empty. Each man, woman and child in the 1984 world population could be given more than 1,500 square feet of land space in such a city (the average home in the US ranges between 1400 and 1800 square feet). If one third of the space of this city were devoted to parks and one third to industry, each family could still occupy a single story dwelling of average U.S. size.
In a similar vein, R.L. Sassone has calculated that there would be standing room for the entire population of the world within one quarter of the area of Jacksonville, Florida. ()
So if overpopulation is not happening, then what about the scourge of AIDS, surely we need contraception in order to combat that deadly disease? Why doesn’t the Catholic Church help with this issue?
Paul VI in Humanae Vitae called for responsible parenthood. A baby is the physical embodiment of a couple’s love. For couples, their love is so strong, that after 9 months, they gave it a name. The gift of sexual love and procreation and the ability to co-create an eternal, immortal soul is something the angels do not possess. To be able to co-create somebody that was not there before is truly incredible. But, as Spiderman knows, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Fertility is not a disease that needs to be suppressed or feared. It is a normal aspect of health which ought to be understood, treasured and respected by men and women. It is good to be fertile, normal and healthy. At present, many have been lied to about what ‘reproductive health’ actually means. This phrase has been used to promote poor choices that are destructive personally and culturally. Such practices as sterilisation, artificial reproduction, contraception, cohabitation, pre marital sex are part of the culture of death and encourage single parenthood, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, family domestic violence and social disintegration.
Father Frank Pavone once stated that the quest for ethical medical practice is in fact a spiritual battle between life and death. Christ gave us his body that others might live. Abortion supporters cling to their bodies that others might die. Abortion teaches one to sacrifice the other person that I might live. But Jesus’ life was given up in self giving, life giving love. Einstein said that there were two ways to live your life: either nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. St Paul is more inclined to favour the latter proposition because God “by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20). For this we should give God glory for ever and ever. The safe and ethical transition from generation to generation will help us to keep singing his praises so that he might find faith on earth when he comes again.
In his Letter to Artists John Paul II wrote, “All men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life. In a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.” You may not be a fine artist or performer, but you are the artist of your soul, working under a great Master. With this great Master, you can co-create to bring more souls into the world.
Nine tasks of marriage:
1. To detach emotionally from the families of childhood, commit to the relationship, and build new connections with the extended families.
2. To build togetherness through intimacy and to expand the sense of self to include the other, while each individual carves out an area of autonomy. Identification with the other provides the basis for bonding but within the new unity, there must be room for autonomy; otherwise there is no true equality.
3. To expand the circle to include children, taking on the roles of parenthood from infancy to adulthood, while maintaining the emotional richness of the marriage and keeping a balance between raising the children and nurturing the couple’s relationship.
4. To confront the inevitable developmental challenges and the unpredictable adversities of life, including illness, death, and natural disasters, in ways that enhance the relationship despite stress and suffering. Every crisis carries within it the seeds of destruction as well as the possibility of renewed strength.
5. To make the relationship safe for expressing difference, anger and conflict, all of which are inevitable in any marriage. All marriages involve love and anger, connectedness and disruption. The task is to find ways to resolve the differences without exploiting each other, being violent, or giving away one’s heart’s desire.
6. To establish an imaginative and pleasurable sex life. Creating a sexual relationship that meets the needs and fantasies of both people requires time and love and sensitivity. The stresses of work and family life, changes in sexual desire over time, mean that this aspect of the marriage requires special protection in order to flourish.
7. To share laughter and humour and to keep interests outside the marriage alive in the relationship. A good marriage is alternately playful and serious, sometimes flirtatious, sometimes difficult and cranky, but always full of life.
8. To provide the emotional nurturance and encouragement that all adults need throughout their lives, love, sympathy, restoration of battered self-esteem, especially in today’s isolating urban communities and high-pressure workplaces, is hugely important to the relationship.
9. To sustain the innermost core of the relationship by holding on to the early idealisations while realising one is growing older, remembering the images and fantasies of courtship and early marriage and maintaining that joyful glow over a lifetime.
From ‘The Good Marriage’ by Judith Wallerstein.
What are some of the questions you might ask before getting married?
1. Have we discussed whether we would like a large family or not?
2. Do we have a clear idea of each other’s financial obligations and goals, and do we communicate about spending and saving?
3. Have we discussed our expectations for how the household will be maintained, and are we in agreement how will manage the chores?
4. Have we fully disclosed our health histories, both physical and mental?
5. Is my partner affectionate to the degree I expect?
6. Can we comfortably and openly discuss our sexual needs, preferences and fears?
7. Will there be a television in the bedroom?
8. Do we truly listen to each other and fairly consider one another’s ideas and complaints?
9.Have we reached a clear understanding of each other’s spiritual beliefs and needs, and have we discussed when and how our children will be exposed to religious/moral education?
10. Do we like and respect each other’s friends?
11. Do we value and respect each other’s parents, and is either of us concerned about whether the parents will interfere with the relationship?
12. What does my family do that annoys you?
13. Are there some things that you and I are NOT prepared to give up in the marriage?
14. If one of us were to be offered a career opportunity in a location far from the others’ family, are we prepared to move?
15. Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we face?
Thomas More’s advice to those married or engaged
Here Thomas More provides some excellent advice and guidance for holiness in love and marriage:
More instructs on how to love one’s wife:
“Saint Paul here exhorteth men to love their wives, so tenderly that they should be of the mind, that to bring them to heaven they could find in their hearts to die for them, as Christ hath died for Christian people to bring them to heaven, and that men, to that intent that they may bring their wives to the glorious bliss of heaven, should here bring them well up in faith, in hope, and charity, and in good works, like as God hath washed his Church of all Christian people.” (Complete works of St Thomas More, New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1973, bk, 8, pp 851-52).
More tells us some advice for those interested in marriage:
“And so, my friend, if you desire to marry, first observe what kind of parents the lady has. See to it that her mother is revered for the excellence of her character which is sucked in and expressed by her tender and impressionable little girl. Next, see to this: what sort of personality she has: how agreeable she is. Let her maidenly countenance be calm and without severity. But let her modesty bring blushes to her cheeks… Let her glances be restrained; let her have no roving eye… Let her be either just finishing her education or ready to begin it immediately… Armed with this learning, she would not yield to pride in prosperity, nor to grief in distress – even though misfortune strike her down.” (To Candidus: how to choose a wife, poem number 143. Complete works of St Thomas More, 3/2:185-7).
What can the government do to support marriage?
Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, has suggested the following proposals for the government to support marriage:
Recognise the importance of marriage within the tax and benefit system, and allow transferable tax allowances between husbands and wives.
Reverse policies designed to encourage dual income couples and value the role of those who wish to stay at home to care for young and elderly.
Abandon the pretence that all types of relationship are of equal value to society, and be honest about the benefits of marriage.
Recognise that the family exists as a foundational institution of society, and not as an agency of the state.
Respect the authority of parents to bring up their children, and view children as members of a family, rather than autonomous individuals.
What are some different definitions of love?
Sophocles, the great Greek playwright wrote “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love”.
Mark Twain, “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired”.
Margaret Walker, the mould-breaking black American poet, “Love stretches your heart and makes you big inside”.
Romeo, standing beneath Juliet’s balcony just before she has seen him:
“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, who is already sick and pale with grief”.
Tosca, jumps to her death from the ramparts of the Castel Sant’Angelo after her lover Mario has been shot by Scarpia’s troops.
Nicholas Sparks, the American author, wrote
“Love is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other every day”
Woody Allen was a little more cynical: “To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But, then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer, to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love, to be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy, therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness.”
Erica Jong, the American writer and feminist: “Love is everything that it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it…..It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more”!
Ogden Nash: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup whenever you’re wrong, admit it whenever you’re right, shut up.”
Marriage quotes from the saints
Husbands and wives should live peacefully in their union of marriage; they should be mutually edifying to each other, pray for one another, bear patiently with one another’s faults, encourage virtue in one another by good example, and follow the holy and sacred rules of their state, remembering that they are the children of the saints and that, consequently, they ought not to behave like pagans, who have not the happiness of knowing the one true God.
– John Baptiste marie Vianney, sermon
The wife must love her husband as if there were no other man in the world, in much the same way as the husband should love her as if no other woman existed.
– Robert Bellarmine, letter to his niece, 1614
Your wife is God’s creation. If you reproach her, you are not condemning her but Him who made her.
– John Chrysostom, homily
But one’s partner for life, the mother of one’s children, the source of one’s every joy, should never be fettered with fear and threats, but with love and patience. What kid of marriage can there be when the wife is afraid of her husband? What sort of satisfaction could a husband himself have if he lives with his wife as if she were a slave, and not with a woman by her own free will?
– John Chrysostom, homily
As long as the wedding cake lasts the man will be infatuated. But afterwards he will come to himself and say: “That foolish woman wishes to be the master.” And then the squabbling will begin at home.
-Vincent Ferrer, sermon
Marriage is the key to the control of the desires; it is the seal of unshakeable friendship; it is drink from a hidden spring; strangers cannot taste it; it bubbles up yet cannot be drawn from the outside. Those who are united in the flesh form one soul and purify their religion by their reciprocal love.
– Gregory of Nazianzus, First poem.
Let married people remain on their cross of obedience, which is in marriage. It is the best and most practical cross of them and one of the most demanding, in that there is almost continual activity – and occasions of suffering are more frequent in this state than in any other. Do not desire, therefore, to descend from this cross under any pretext whatever. Since God has placed you there, remain there always.
– Francis de Sales, Oeuvres
If two pieces of wood are carefully glued together, their union will be so close that it is easier to break them in some fresh place than where they were joined; and God so united man and wife, that it is easier to sever soul and body than those two.
– Francis de Sales, the Devout Life.
For since the bringing of children into the world is the principal end of marriage, to do anything in order to prevent the accomplishment of this end is always mortal sin.
– Francis de Sales, the Devout Life
There is no union so precious and so fruitful between husband and wife as that of holy devotion, in which they should mutually lead and sustain each other.
– Francis de Sales, the Devout Life
Natural Family Planning Resources
Free NFP Manual at http://www.nfpandmore.org/
The Fertility Care Centre London http://www.fertilitycarecentre.co.uk/
Promotes the Creighton method of NFP – 02074370892
Billings ovulation method: http://www.boma-usa.org/
This is a simple, scientific method of NFP, in use for over 50 years.
NFP Outreach: http://nfpoutreach.org/
Useful NFP information
One more soul: http://www.omsoul.com/
Non profit organization committed to spreading the news about the blessings of children and the harms of contraception.
Pope Paul VI institute http://www.popepaulvi.com/
Promoting morally and professionally acceptable reproductive health services.
Family of the Americas: http://www.familyplanning.net
Useful organization promoting family life and NFP
Couple to couple league http://www.ccli.org
Building healthy marriages through NFP since 1971.
www.woomb.org Billings observation method of Natural Family Planning
www.billingsnaomi.org National Association of Ovulation Method Instructors (Billings).
www.lifefertility.org.uk LIFE FertilityCare program (UK).
http://28daysonthepill.com/ – ‘Super Size me’ version of the pill
LIFE health centre 01512280353
Linacre centre for healthcare ethics.
Good counsel network- 02077231760 firstname.lastname@example.org
Books, CDs and Leaflets:
The art of Natural Family Planning by John and Sheila Kippley, (Couple to Couple League, Cincinnati, 1989).
The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? By Alexandra Pope and Jane Bennet (ORION, 2009)
Does the birth control pill cause abortions? By Randy Alcorn, 1997.
Why NFP? Practicing Chastity within Marriage by Jason Evert, CD available from www.catholic.com
Donum Vitae, Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, Pope John Paul II.
Evangelium Vitae, Encyclical Letter, Pope John Paul II.
Contraception: Why not? A CD by Janet Smith.
What Pope John Paul II actually said about contraception
Contraception is wrong because it is a denial of God. Here is what John Paul Said about the issue:
“At the origin of every human person there is a creative act of God. No man comes into existence by chance; he is always the object of God’s creative love. From this fundamental truth of faith and reason it follows that the procreative capacity, inscribed in human sexuality is – in its deepest truth – a cooperation with God’s creative power. And it also follows that man and woman are not arbiters, are not the masters of this same capacity, called as they are, in it and through it, to be participants in God’s creative decision. When, therefore, through contraception, married couples remove from the exercise of their conjugal sexuality its potential procreative capacity, they claim a power which belongs solely to God: the power to decide in a final analysis the coming into existence of a human person. They assume the qualification of not being co-operators in God’s creative power, but the ultimate depositaries of the source of human life. In this perspective, contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly unlawful, as never to be, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.”
The rejection of Contraception, according to JP2,
●“is equivalent to refusing God himself the obedience of our intelligence.” (November 12, 1988), “equivalent to denying the Catholic concept of revelation.” (April 10, 1986).
●To hold out for exceptions on contraception is as if God’s grace were not sufficient is a form of atheism (September 17, 1983).
●“What is being questioned by rejecting that teaching… is the very idea of the holiness of God.” (November 12, 1988)
 What’s Wrong with Contraception? (Cincinnati, Ohio: The Couple to Couple League International); Mercedes Arzú Wilson, “The Practice of Natural Family Planning Versus the Use of Artificial Birth Control: Family, Sexual, and Moral Issues,” Catholic Social Science Review 7 (November 2002).  Creighton Model NaProEducation Technology for avoiding pregnancy: use effectiveness; J Reprod Med 1998; 43: 495-502  Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 1998. Effectiveness of Family Planning System, Contraceptive Failure Rates: Family Planning Perspectives. 1999.  For couples with normal fertility. Hilgers TW, Daly KD, Prebil AM, and Hilgers SK. Cummulative Pregnancy Rates in Patients with Apparently Normal Fertility and Fertility-Focussed Intercourse J. Reprod. Med. 37:864, 1992
 Against Faustus, 15.7 CSEL 25:430.  Homily 5 on 1 Thess, PG 62:426.  On Galatians, 5, PL 26:443.  Augustine, The good of marriage 16.18, CSEL 41: 210-211.  Adulterous marriages 2.12.12 CSEL 41:396.  On the sentences 4.31.27 obj. 3.  Introduction to the devout life, chapter 39.  Bruce Stadel “Oral Contraceptives and the occurrence of disease” in Contraceptive Steroids: Pharmacology and Safety, ed A.T. Gregoire and Richard Blye (NY and London: Plenum Press, 1986, p14-5).  (Maureen Gardner, Facts about oral contraceptives, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 1984, p8, p12).  Guardian 6th March 2009.  Contem. Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 1988; 19: 315-26.  http://www.billings-ovulation-method.org.au/act/cervix/ageing.shtml  http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/307/6906/723  http://www.medkb.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/aids/2598/Condom-Use-Linked-to-Risk-of-Preeclampsia  http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/706504/posts  A Glasier, ‘Emergency Contraception’, BMJ, 333:560–561.  Mary S. Calderone, ed. Abortion in the United States: A conference sponsored by the PPFa and the New York Academy of Medicine, Arden House (New York, Harper and Row, 1958), p157.  http://frblin.club.fr/fiamc/04texts/ehmann/HumanaeEng04R.pdf  Malthus, Book IV, Chap. V – Essay on the Principle of Population.  Paul R Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (New York: Ballantine Books, 1968).  Kasun, War against population, p38.
 L’Osservatore Romano, Oct. 10, 1983.