What's in a Name? | Married Names, Maiden Names, and the Decisions We Make

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

As the dust begins to settle around the whirlwind of wedding planning, a new journey begins to unfold. Together, and with time, you and your spouse will grow into your identity as a married couple. In the midst of this exciting season, there is a vital decision to confirm your new family’s identity in choosing your last name.

When it’s time to fill in that blank on the legal documents, couples generally have the option to take either the bride or the groom’s last name, hyphenate both last names, or create a new name. Although the decision surrounding a married couple’s last name is morally neutral, many women are convicted in their beliefs on a wide spectrum between keeping her maiden name and taking his. If you are curious why a woman would willingly abandon her own family name or if you desire to articulate the reasons why you did, understanding the physical and spiritual nature of men and women may help.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   OCULI CORDIS MEDIA

PHOTOGRAPHY: OCULI CORDIS MEDIA

The history of a bride taking her groom’s last name is rooted in English common law. The practice for creating a thread of surname lineage was centered around establishing both a legality of marriage and set boundaries for couples in regards to acquiring property or business. These standards were eventually adopted in practice in the United States. With the onset of “family names” passed from a father to his newborn child or from a groom to his bride, additional laws, norms, traditions, and opinions began to take root throughout growing cultures both nationwide and worldwide.

Of course, from a legalistic point of view, an immediate perspective assumes that the man claims dominance over the woman when she officially takes his last name. This misguided belief has been the origin of women’s oppression, including, for example, a woman’s right to vote. Because we are a world of imperfect humans, a tradition with the potential to celebrate the gift of marriage and family has been twisted into oppression and abuse.

As a reaction to oppression or because of shifts in the secular definition of marriage, women identify several reasons to keep her maiden name, such as convenience, preference, personal identity or equality of power. Other times, academic careers or professional publications are the cause for a woman to maintain her identity through her last name.

Regardless of the history of societal wedding traditions or the secular, modern approaches to marriage, our legal actions cannot be separated from our spiritual being. Because a human being is body and soul, our physical actions and decisions—including changing our name—proclaim what we understand to be true about being a human.

Therefore, when a woman accepts the last name of her new spouse, she emphasizes the dignity of her femininity as she reveals the legal, physical, emotional and spiritual union with her beloved.

This statement may sound like a surprising contrast to the general “feminist movement.” Many feminists through decades past—and present—would argue that a woman should keep her maiden name in order to claim equal rights, stand up for herself, and maintain her independence. But if we carefully define “what is feminine,” we will find empowering support for woman to fulfill part of her femininity by receiving her husband’s last name.

To understand what it means to be woman through a Christian anthropology, we go to the story when woman was created: in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. “So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.”

Eve received life, physically and spiritually, by the rib of Adam and the hand of God. With her first breath, Adam received her as a gift to fulfill his desire for union with another. We hear Adam’s joyful relief when he says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” And as he accepted her, Eve simultaneously received man as a gift for her own fulfillment of self-knowledge. Saint Pope John Paul II explains, ”The exchange is mutual. In it, the reciprocal effects of the sincere gift and of the finding oneself again are revealed and grow.” This cycle of giving of self and receiving the other between man and woman is the epitome of holy, joyful, spousal union as God intended.

Scripture shows us woman’s initial receptivity to life and the love that followed. Although both man and woman are called to give and receive in acts of love, our bodies help define receptivity as a naturally feminine quality. Consider the intimacy of the wedding night and the bride’s physical receptivity of the groom. Or at the moment of conception as the woman receives a child in her womb.

This is not a gender stereotype, but a celebration of what it means to be woman and how we are called to love man: by receiving every part of him as a cherished gift.

Yes, when a wife takes the last name of her husband, she surrenders her maiden name and, perhaps, part of her identity which was secured in that name. The emotional struggle of letting go of a maiden name emphasizes the reality that a name has value to a person’s identity.

For a husband to offer a meaningful gift of his identity—his name—is a beautiful and masculine act of love. When a woman accepts his last name, she is not practicing an outdated, man-driven tradition; she fulfills her femininity in a selfless act of receptive love. In the way only a woman can.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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Creating a Unique Wedding Registry

CLARA DAVISON

 

Wedding registries can be both an exciting and anxious part of wedding planning. Who doesn’t get excited about making the ultimate wish list for their new home? This is an opportunity for you and your fiancé to decide your style as a couple and how your future home will reflect that.

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At the same time, it can create an extra level of stress as you scrutinize each item you add to your registry. What does it mean to be a good steward of your friend’s and family’s generosity? How much should you consider the price range of items? Is it wiser to restrict your registry to necessities, or is this an opportunity to include things you would not consider purchasing yourself? What is the balance between kitchen items, larger furniture pieces, linens, and miscellaneous?

A little prayer and confidence in the joyful generosity of your friends and family during this season of engagement can help alleviate these anxious questions.

A wedding registry is an opportunity for those who love you to channel their affection into acts of charity. And there is never another time in your life when you’ll get to create such an exciting wish list!

And so, it can be fun to find ways to veer from the traditional aspects of wedding registries and add some uniqueness to this part of wedding planning. Here are three ways to make your registry more personalized towards your future life as a married couple:

Books

What better way to celebrate your marriage than growing your new family’s library? Though my husband and I accumulated a large number of books during our years as English majors, I wish we had added the missing classics to our wedding registry. This is a wonderful way to infuse your personality into your registry and give your guests the opportunity to add to your book collection. It is also a great way to include your fiancé—who may be apathetic about towel and sheet colors—in the registry selections. Giving your guests the option to purchase books might be a welcome change from the usual selection of linens and kitchen items.

Charities

As you and your fiancé begin creating your registry, this is a wonderful time to discuss how charitable giving will be incorporated into your marriage. In the midst of picking items that you will no doubt enjoy in your future home, it is nice to consider how your upcoming marriage will benefit others. Is there a specific charity that is significant to you or your fiancé? Is there a ministry that has supported you and your beloved’s spiritual growth?

As a couple, you have the opportunity to begin your marriage prioritizing charitable giving and inviting your friends and family to join you. What a beautiful testimony to the life-giving fruit of marriage!

Experiences

One of my favorite developments in wedding registries is the incorporation of experiences. Most registries now have the option for couples to create individual experiences that their guests can choose to help fund. This is a nice way to balance the many physical gifts on a registry with experience gifts that build memories rather than clutter. I used this option to create specific experiences that our guests could gift us for our honeymoon. Tickets to the Vatican Museums and to a play were just two of the options that guests could use to help us celebrate our first few weeks as a married couple.

In the midst of the chaos of wedding planning, the registry can be an opportunity to relax and enjoy dreaming up the trimmings of your future home. Adding a few unique additions to your registry is a fun and refreshing way to incorporate your interests as a couple. What are some unusual items that you have added to your registry?


About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   

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Moments that Matter, Memories that Last

ELIZABETH MAHON

 

On a wedding day, the bride and groom’s carefully selected vendors come together to serve specific roles with a shared objective of making the day a run smoothly. Coordinators keep everyone on schedule as bouquets and floral arrangements are assembled, finishing touches are added to cakes, and priests deliver their homilies. The wedding photographer is there to capture and preserve these memories.

As a wedding photographer, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of one of the most monumental days in people’s lives. This role is unique from other vendors. I remember the pressure I felt the very first time I was charged with the responsibility of photographing a wedding, “These photos could hang on their wall for generations; make sure you don’t miss any of the big moments!” I thought.

While I still feel a certain type of pressure going into wedding days, my outlook on capturing them has changed slightly over the years. This is partly due to my own experience as a bride, but mostly because of seasoned knowledge of how a wedding day will unfold. I have seen enough wedding days to anticipate how they will likely progress; most vendors will tell you the same thing, echoing the words of Julius Caesar, “experience is the best teacher.” Yet, the tangible anticipation of serving a couple as a wedding photographer prevails (even with years of experience) because the intimate moments that matter are fleeting.

In the photography community, there is an emphasis on capturing "moments that matter.” These moments happen between the scheduled events, or they might not be noticed by the bride and groom until they look through their gallery of images long after their wedding day.

It is impossible for the bride and groom to see every aspect of their wedding day when they are in the spotlight. They will miss the look on the father-of-the-bride’s face when his daughter vows her life to her husband, and they might not see the wedding guests in prayer during the dedication to the Blessed Mother. As the day unfolds, I am constantly on the lookout for these moments. It is a more organic approach than simply working from of a shot list or checking items off of a list; there is always a sense of anticipation.

Of course, it cannot be denied that there are parts of a wedding day that require structure. The family formal photos and standard portraits are important. As part of a pre-wedding questionnaire, I have all of my couples list any guests of honor who will be in attendance, and the family photos that they, or their parents, wish to have.

I thrive on looking for unique ways to capture the ceremony, depending on each church--as no two are the same. Parish churches, Cathedrals, and chapels all radiate a different type of beauty, and it is fun to get creative.

Although I have documented many types of wedding ceremonies over the years, a majority of my experiences have been in the context of a Catholic Mass.

The sacrament of matrimony adds an entirely new meaning to the phrase “moments that matter” because of the sacramental graces bestowed upon the couple. While these graces can never be fully captured in a picture, their essence is what I aim to reveal in the photos I take.

I try to focus on moments throughout the day that will last long after the sparkler send-off. While the handcrafted invitations and DIY centerpieces are exquisite and deserve to be remembered, they do not bear the same importance as those intangible moments. I can recognize a bride who values sacramental elements when she is seeking a photographer who is familiar with the  beauty of the Catholic Mass.

It is a gift when I am able to partake in the Mass as a photographer. I have heard homilies that are edifying to my vocation as a wife, joined in prayer for couples alongside the congregation, and gratefully received communion as a part of my work day.

While I want my clients to have an overall enjoyable experience throughout wedding planning, it is most important that they cherish the photographs from their wedding day for years to come. If you are seeking a wedding photographer, look for someone whose work highlights what is most important to you. If you and your photographer value the same aspects of a wedding day, you will capture and cherish those fleeting yet precious “moments that matter” forever.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth is a national wedding + portrait photographer and Spoken Bride vendor. Although based in Maryland, she has traveled the country photographing weddings from California to Maine and everywhere in between. She loves old movies, the Green Bay Packers, and learning any/everything about American history. Elizabeth is married to her college sweetheart, Patrick, and the two are raising their baby boy Theodore just outside of Baltimore, MD.


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3 Options to Create Community at your Reception

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Regardless of the number of people who attend your wedding, the blending of two families and the witness of marriage brings together a joyful crowd. Part of wedding planning involves making decisions about managing this group of people who may or may not know each other. There are options in how you guide wedding guests through the reception not only for smooth transitions, but also to create community among your most beloved family and friends.

Relationships so often begin as strangers share a meal around a table. While considering the flow between seating arrangements and food service options for your reception, I invite you to also consider the possibilities of initiating new relationships among your wedding guests at the dinner table. Here, we list and compare three options for seating assignments and unique considerations for building community.

PHOTOGRAPHY: AVENUE CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Open Seating

Open seating is open-ended. As guests enter your reception venue, they will have the freedom and flexibility to choose what table and chair they will sit at for the evening’s festivities. Will your guests have an opportunity to meet and mingle at a rehearsal dinner or social hour the day before your wedding? If many of your guests will make connections with new people prior to your wedding day, open seating provides former-strangers a chance to continue those organic relationships.  Perhaps your extended families live in the same town but have never met each other; this could be a beautiful invitation for new relationships that can begin and continue beyond your wedding day.

Open seating is the most budget-friendly option because it doesn’t require the purchase of a seating chart or place cards. You may consider providing more place settings than necessary in case guests choose to sit in small groups across several tables, rather than filling every chair at one table.

The most appropriate food service with open seating is a buffet, which parallels the flexibility and flow of the crowd through the reception.

Assigned Tables

Assigning tables can be fun to play with during your wedding planning as you create collisions between groups of people. Weddings bring together the old and the new, childhood friends and college friends, family and “friends who become family.” The reception is a chance for those worlds to mix in a way that strengthens your network of love and support for your new life as a married couple.

There are so many ways to approach assigned tables in order to quietly instigate new relationship among wedding guests: do the bride and groom’s childhood friends all sit at one table? Maybe it’s a chance for your childhood friends to spend time with your college friends. The options are endless, and the process is exciting.

Assigned Tables work well for a limited space because each table can be filled to its capacity. It provides both structure and flexibility for your guests. A large escort board can be placed near the entrance of the reception venue where your guests will see it and can note their table. Alternatively, you can create escort cards labeled with the guest’s name and table assignment, so they can find their table then claim their seat with the place card. If you prefer, couples or families that will sit together can be listed on the same escort card. This option requires a financial investment towards creating or purchasing the escort board or escort cards and table name signs, as well as a commitment to intentionally plan the table assignments.

Either a buffet or table service works well with assigned tables. Note that caterers may need to be aware of the tables with guests who have dietary restrictions.

Assigned Seats

Assigned seats are the most structured method for guiding your guests to a place at the reception. Both an escort board at the front of the venue and escort cards at the table are used to help guests find their way.

Similar to seating chart, assigned seats offer a more structured invitation for new relationships or dynamics among guests. If you plan to mix bride and groom’s guests at the same table, assigned seats can offer both diversity and structure for these encounters. Sometimes, assigned seats are helpful in creating a positive environment among guests who have a negative history by organizing people among the space.

Assigned seats are the best option for your reception if your guests select an entree and food will be delivered in courses. Name cards can be marked in a specific way to communicate dietary needs and/or entree selections to the catering staff.

Planning these parts of your wedding is not all about logistics and details. It is about building relationships and connections and bonds between you and your fiance by bridging your families and friends together.

True love is fruitful. The relationships that take root and grow beyond your wedding day is an irrefutable fruit from the celebration of love between you and your spouse.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the options in planning a wedding, it may be helpful to work backwards. What kinds of words do you want your guests to use when they describe your wedding and reception? How do you want to remember the atmosphere at your celebration of marriage? Once you and your fiance determine a vision together, it may be easier to make decisions about the social environment for your big day.

Check out the way this Spoken Bride couple incorporated their favorite saints through table names.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. Stephanie’s perfect day would consist of a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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3 Tangible Ways to Include the Saints in Your Wedding Day

CLARA DAVISON

 

For as long as I can remember, saints and their stories have played a huge part in my spiritual life.

As a child, I loved learning about Saint Fransisco, Blessed Imelda, and other children who achieved holiness at a young age. In my teenage years, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Saint Dominic Savio, and Blessed Chiara Badano began inspiring me. Learning about holy men and women who related to my current stage in life strengthened and encouraged me on my spiritual journey.

Once engaged, I began considering ways to incorporate the saints into my wedding. They have been alongside me through every part of my life, and I wanted to include them as I entered this vocation. Here, three ways I have seen the saints’ intercession incorporated in Catholic weddings:

Wedding bouquet medals

During my engagement, I asked friends and family to pray for us in the weeks leading up to the wedding. I may have tentatively suggested--or not so tentatively, as my siblings tell me--that they ask the intercession of specific saints on my husband’s and my behalf. I then invited my prayer warriors to bring a medal of their specific saint to the wedding and tie it onto my bouquet before I walked down the aisle.

I can’t tell you how touching it was to receive so many medals on my wedding day and to feel the weight of my bouquet carrying the symbols of many prayers. Since the bouquet was too large to preserve, it became especially significant to have those medals long after the flowers and greenery faded.

Stories of married saints

As I planned my wedding, I began seeking out saints who were called to the vocation of marriage: Saints Gianna Molla, Elizabeth Ann Seton, and Jane Frances de Chantal just scratch the surface of many amazing married women. I found it incredibly powerful to study the lives of Catholic wives who lived out their vocation with such holiness.

I also learned of many married couples who are both saints! While Joseph and Mary are the epitome of a holy marriage, there are a variety of others to learn from: Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, Joachim and Anne, and Blessed Charles of Austria and his wife, Servant of God Zita, are just a few from whom I drew inspiration. Learning about these holy relationships is a great way to reflect on your hopes for your own marriage.

Litany of the Saints

When picking Mass music, my friend chose the Litany of the Saints to be sung while grandparents, parents, and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. She and her fiancé were able to pick some of their favorite saints to include in the litany, making it particularly personal. While not a traditional piece for a wedding, I found it a beautiful testimony to watch the couple’s closest friends and family escorted down the aisle as their closest friends in Heaven were called on to intercede.

Our brothers and sisters in heaven are such a wonderful aspect of the Catholic faith. What are ways you have seen them included in weddings?


About the Author: Clara Davison has worked as a whitewater raft guide, sex trafficking researcher, U.K. Parliament researcher, swim coach, and freelance writer. She currently works in independent school advancement and lives with her husband in North Carolina.   

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Newlywed Life | 10 Ways to Feel Grounded in Your First Months of Marriage

SINIKKA ROHRER

 

You’ve walked down the aisle, finally united in Christ and ready to begin your life together. After your wedding day, however, there is no more premarital counseling or assigned mentors to help you navigate your first year of marriage.

If your experience is anything like mine, the newlywed season can feel isolating and confusing. Here, from my husband and I, 10 tips for the first months of your marriage, and beyond.

Set up household responsibilities.

It might seem obvious, but someone needs to do the dishes. If you don’t decide who will complete which chores, it’s likely they either won’t get done or will foster resentment. To bypass frustration, start fresh by setting up what works best for your daily routines--whether that’s you doing the laundry and dishes and your husband waxing the car and making dinner, or the other way around.

Create a family routine.

Consider when you’ll work out, have dinner, go to bed, and have some quiet time with the Lord, either alone or together. Your days now include another person, so establishing routines will not only make your house feel more like home, but give you a sense of community and unity.

Determine your family values.

When you wake up each morning, what three things do you prioritize no matter what your day will look like? My husband and I decided to write down our family values shortly after we were married to help keep us accountable to our priorities. Our three values are faith, family, and fun. Every year, we talk through how the year looked through the lens of each of our values.

Talk about your expectations.

To me, the most important virtue in a relationship is communication. From the most difficult circumstances to the easiest of days, communication is what will make or break a marriage. When you first start out on your journey together, you might find communication is hard and be tempted to not talk through frustrations you are feeling toward your spouse. But it’s during these exact times that it’s imperative to communicate, creating a foundation of honesty and unity.

During our newlywed days, my husband and I found that I expected he would be exactly like my dad, with dinner to be on the table every night at 5 PM. While I tried my hardest, it was almost impossible for me to do as a working wife. It was only after months of internalized pressure and silent anger that I learned my husband’s expectations were totally different than what my father had of my mother; it was only then that I could finally relax into what our relationship would truly be like.

Join a parish and, if possible, a couples’ ministry.

Marriage allows you to truly set foot into community together. That looks like finding a parish you can consistently attend and feel connected to. Consider also joining a married couple’s small group--or start one--and begin forming foundational relationships with other newlyweds and married couples. God willing, these friends can help and mentor you through the journey of married life.

Set boundaries with family.

The changes of marriage can be especially hard if you’re very close to your family members and highly regard their opinions. Scripture says a man will leave his family and become one with his spouse, and this is no less true for women. Instead of turning to your mother or sister during difficult times, as might’ve been your habit in the past, marriage marks a turning to your husband, and your family should be aware of that. To ensure no feelings are hurt, I recommend open conversation about boundaries with your family, such as where you’ll be spending the holidays and how often you’ll be calling your mom.

Explore intimacy together consistently.

During the beginning of marriage, physical intimacy may not come naturally or easily. You might even desire to not be intimate with your spouse after the wedding night if it was not initially a pleasant experience. While all relationships are different, the Lord has designed man and woman to be together in marriage, and intimacy is a critical part of your relationship with your spouse. With this in mind, my husband and I challenge you to continue learning, growing, and exploring intimacy together consistently in order to arrive at a place of comfort for both of you.

Open a joint bank account.

Marriage unites you not only spiritually, but practically--that includes finances. I recommend opening a joint bank account and start paying your bills. Money is one a hot-button topic when couples experience conflict, so I highly encourage you to start your marriage with setting a budget and identifying financial goals you can work toward together.

Invite your neighbors over for dinner.

The Lord has made marriage in the image of his love for the Church, which means your love is made to impact those around you. Boldly reach out to whomever your neighbor is in your new home, and invite him or her to dinner. Get to know those who live around you and become part of your community, so that you can be the hands and feet of Jesus, right where you live!

Volunteer together.

Make the effort to serve your church or community together. This is another way that as a married couple you’re able to be Jesus’ hands and feet and share the testimony of his love with others--so get out and volunteer together!

Your first year of marriage is a foundational time for you and your spouse. This means every day, every week, and every month that passes will include both moments of hardships and good growth in your relationship. We hope these tips offer you guidance as you navigate this sacred ground, and we wish you the best as you begin your journey to Christ together.


About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is a Christian wedding photographer and Spoken Bride vendor on mission to encourage brides with practical and spiritual encouragement on the way to the aisle. She is a lover of all things healthy, early morning spiritual reads, and anything outdoors.

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NFP = Nervous Family Planning? The Joys and Struggles.

KATE THIBODEAU

 

You’re newly engaged; glowing with happiness, showing off your glimmering left hand and so excited to start this new journey with your fiancé. You’ve met with your priest, set the date, and expect marriage preparation will be a wonderful experience. One in which you’ll grow as a couple on this adventure to heaven together. Everything sounds like the fairy tale you’d always dreamed of.

You’re set to take your Natural Family Planning course, eager to prepare for becoming a responsible and pro-life Catholic family. You can totally tackle NFP! A mix of science, faith, and marital self-sacrifice: what could be a more simple, practical, and generous method in which to grow a fine and faithful Catholic family?

Those feelings and emotions are all good, beautiful, and true. NFP is an enormous gift to the families who desire to be prudent and selfless, cooperating with God to bring children into the world.

However, after taking my NFP course during engagement, and then after actually following it as a married woman, I found that the glamorous reports of success I’d heard took me by surprise. Instead,I found myself struggling--failing, even--to learn and practice it..

 Thanks to my mother, I grew up well aware of my body’s fertility signs and familiar with NFP since I was a little girl. When trying to learn it four months prior to my upcoming wedding, I started with typical complaints, particularly taking my temperature each morning at 6 A.M, even on days when I could have slept in. Early wakeups became a daily cross. I became aware of my  daily routines that needed to be changed. I quickly realized the inconveniences of this new, constant awareness of my own body and of sharing my findings with my husband.

Conversations before marriage about NFP don’t always illuminate the little mistakes and troubles found along the way: forgetting to take your temperature, inconsistencies rooted in  stress, an inability to understand your fertility symptoms and record them correctly, a lack of full understanding. I realized there was a myriad of ways in which I personally could fail in the practice, not just the idea, of NFP--ways I was unaware of in the past, when my knowledge was more limited.

I found myself disheartened, especially when listening to other couples tell me of their great successes. I felt like a failure for being unable to clearly read my fertility signs, and felt the weight of guilt when I opted to switch to a different method. I doubted my ability to enter into a self-giving marriage with my husband, where we would be responsible in the task given to us as future parents.

It took several months, a loving and supportive husband, and God’s severest of mercies on my beginner’s errors to find peace in my mostly complicated relationship with the amazing gift of Natural Family Planning. Here are my takeaways, from much trial and error:

Be patient with yourself!

NFP is not supposed to a one time victory, but many monthly victories that allow you to know your body and your spouse better with each cycle. Don’t allow stress or fear of failure to dampen your resolve. I found the stress of learning NFP greatly affected my fertility, which made it all the more difficult to track. Had I more patience and forgiveness with myself, my learning curve might have been more even-keeled.

Comparison is the greatest fiend of self confidence, and I found it took a toll on my process.

I was too busy shaming myself for my struggles and comparing them with my peers’ successes to see the benefits of NFP. The method you choose and your discernment is dependent on you, your spouse, and God. Ask--and trust in--Christ to guide  your instincts.

Every woman’s body is different, just as every couple expresses love in different ways. Allow your couple friends to empower and encourage you in your quest, but do not succumb to self-doubt from comparison. I found sharing in vulnerability allowed me to see how pointless my tendency to compare really was. 

NFP is ultimately a blessing and a sacrifice.

NFP is truly a fruitful way to work with God and your spouse to determine when you are called to bring forth children. It is difficult in practice, but its fruits include a more valued intimacy and understanding with my husband, a sacrificial death to desire, and a dependence on God’s timing. We are grateful for the work and frustration, as well as the unity we have found through this journey together. We’ve been able to love each other better, knowing we’re in support of God’s will for our future family.

 I’ll continue to sing the praises of NFP even in my vulnerability and perceived failures. To all brides who are struggling, know you are not alone!

 Have patience with yourself, seek out support, and ultimately trust in God’s mercy. Natural Family Planning should not be a cause for anxiety or stress concerning perfection, but a gift to you and your husband as holy and responsible parents. You--with God--have got this!


About the Author: Recently married to her best friend and partner towards salvation, Kate Thibodeau is learning how to best serve her vocation as a wife while using her God-given talents. With an English degree from Benedictine College, she strives to live in the Benedictine motto: that in all things, God may be glorified. Kate loves literature, romance, beautiful music, pretty things, wedding planning, and building a community of strong Catholic women.

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