We Share Your Joy!

by Therese Maes
Summer 2023

This joyous time of preparation for your marriage may seem too full, too fast, too frenzied with “to-do” lists. But this time, this respite while you are concentrating just on your relationship with each other and with God, will be a true time of refreshment, light, and peace, if you allow it. At this time, we invite you to look at each other with new eyes, and new hearts, open to all the graces God has in store just for you.

Did you ever reflect on how blessed you are to be marrying at this time? So much more is known abut marriage and what goes into making a good marriage great!

Oh yes, I know the statistics that show many marriages end in divorce, but there are many more marriages that are lasting “until death do us part” whether that be 30, 40, 50, even 60 years. The key, of course, is love.

Not the kind of love that Hollywood and the TV networks promote, but the kind of love that says, “I am willing to give my life for you. I am willing to die for you.”

If you think about it, the sexual fulfillment experienced in marital intercourse is a dying to self for the other. The wife gives so fully of herself and husband gives so fully of himself that they become not two different people but one complete whole. They enter into an embrace that steps out of time, place and body into ecstasy that goes beyond the physical into a nothingness that is all feeling and floating, like a Chagall painting. There is no self, only other. The paradox, of course, is that as one dies to self and gives all to the other, the two become a greater whole: one in being, one in grace and one in the image of God.

Is every marital embrace like this? No. The humdrum of daily life—work, friends and hobbies—can put barriers in the way of your marital embrace. Contraceptives like condoms and diaphragms, interrupt the total gift of self, obviously, but even the “pill” is psychologically and physically divisive because it requires the woman to change her self. What the “pill” says to you, the wife, is that you are not worthy of being accepted as you are. Instead, you must be placed in a state of pseudo pregnancy (with its attendant physical anomalies) in order to be available for sex on demand. Is this what both of you wish for each other?

Don’t most husbands want the best for their wives? This is true in the early stages of marriage and deepens as they grow to know each other, body and soul. A husband giving himself unreservedly finds the deepest joy and fulfillment when his wife is able to give herself equally unreservedly. Again, the paradox, as the husband gives himself completely to his wife, and she to him, each becomes more complete as individuals. Why would any couple want less?

Just like you, every couple enters into marriage with dreams. And that is only right. Every good coach teaches the players to “image” what they seek to attain, to think through all the motions and visualize the exact outcome they want. Isn’t that what you are doing, as you plan for the future— imaging outcomes, dreaming dreams?

The best way to attain the marriage of our dreams is one you’ve probably not even thought about or even heard of. It is the church’s best kept secret—
natural family planning. The good news of NFP is that it is the method of family planning tailored just for you, the couple who is sensitive, committed, into health and fitness, and concerned with ecological well-being. And it’s a “couple thing”—using natural methods of family planning means both of you working together.

But what is natural family planning? You probably already know that a man who is fertile, is fertile always, whereas a woman who is fertile is fertile only cyclically. The art of graphing these cyclical changes is the science of natural family planning. Basically, every fertile woman experiences a characteristic mucus discharge that changes during her cycle. She can soon recognize and chart these changes, learning when ovulation is approaching and when it is complete.

As she notices the mucus discharge, there are also temperature changes in her body. These can be charted as well and soon the couple has a complete picture of their mutual fertility. When the couple decides to have a baby, they make love during the fertile time. When they know it is best to postpone having a baby, they make love during the other parts of the cycle.

It’s that simple, and that complex. Because every cycle is unique just as every couple is unique, be sure you seek excellent instruction. A teacher recommended by CANFP will help you understand your bodily signs, chart the graph and define your particular times of fertility and infertility. Just go to the CANFP Directory of Professionals at Find an Expert at canfp.org.

Natural methods of family planning deepen your love and commitment to each other. You become aware of your tremendous power to bring new life into the world. As you learn to be open to life, you learn to be open to the Giver of Life, until God’s graces permeate your being in a way that makes burdens light and joys profound. We wish that joy for you and ask the Lord to bless you.

May all your dreams come true!

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About The Author

Therese Maes
Terry Maes was the founding President of CANFP, while serving the Diocese of San Jose as the Director of Marriage and Family Life, and continues to serve on the Advisory Board. She and her husband Jose live in the San Jose region, have celebrated 55+ years of marriage, and have four children, and five grandchildren.
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