Updated: Jun 9, 2019
Occasionally, I am asked if Marquette offers us *too much* control over our fertility.
I totally understand why this is a concern someone may have. Because, as a recovering control addict, I have had the same thought!
Consider what happened today. I got a “peak” reading on my monitor. The hormone, LH, was objectively and accurately detected, and this is the hormone associated with ovulation itself.
I can now count three days past my last peak day and confidently assume the days beyond that are infertile. LH only surges once per cycle, meaning there’s not much else to worry about after the detected LH surge. There is no double peak rule in Marquette when using the monitor or a test to confirm LH because we don’t need one. LH doesn’t surge twice.
Even though estrogen naturally rises right before a period, causing the presence of mucus, it does not affect our ability to or our confidence in using those days for marital intimacy-- because the hormones were accurately and objectively detected.
You even have the option to use a progesterone urine test after peak to add an additional objective measurement (or in the event peak is missed on the monitor) to confirm ovulation.
The fertility monitor can often detect estrogen rising early in a cycle where you may ovulate earlier than expected. This can alert the couple to be aware and cautious if their intention is to avoid a pregnancy.
Each of these advancements has given women an extra tool to understand the hormone profile of her body on any given day of her cycle. Additional knowledge gives the couple confidence and control in discerning what Pope St. Paul VI called “responsible parenthood.”
The couple who most recently brought up this concern about “too much control” had previously used a method in which they were only moderately confident. They would make their "best guess" at their fertile days and then just accept a pregnancy when it came because they "must have misunderstood the signs."
This formed their expectation for NFP: make an educated guess, give it over to God, and accept the next pregnancy when they inevitably made a mistake.
The idea that she might now have a more objective understanding of her fertile days, and they could be faced with saying "yes" or "no" with a higher degree of certainty (not 100%; God is still God, afterall.) was foreign and unsettling.
I could have given her a platitude such as “Well, electronics fail. So God will find a way!”
Yes, electronics do fail. (I’d argue that happens way less than human error, though.)
Yes, God can find a way.
But her concern is valid and deserves to be explored— because without digging deep, we miss an opportunity to see the beauty in greater understanding of our fertility.
Why was she so hesitant about “more control”? I suspect it's because she assumed if they could confidently avoid a pregnancy, they would. Perhaps indefinitely.
She was used to accepting a pregnancy as a result of an "NFP mistake." If there was less likelihood of error, she feared they would not choose to have more children. Because that responsibility— of forming an eternal soul— is hella daunting.
An accurate fertile window allows you to say "yes" with intention.
When you are confident in your fertile window of your NFP method, you can find yourself in a position of knowing the Lord wants you to be open to another child. Yet you have the knowledge and tools to continue avoiding pregnancy, for the most part.
I suspect the Lord wants us to be open to another child very soon. And it scares me.
Some reasons are more selfish than others. Like losing all of the baby weight from Jude first. Or a big trip I think we should take next year.
Other reasons are typical fears about how will we incorporate a new person in to our routine? Will we have space? Can I form and educate another child who is entrusted to me—and not to the detriment of the children I already have?
I know we will find a way. it will work out.
Yet, I find myself avoiding asking specifically about another child in prayer because I’d prefer not to say “no“ to the Creator of the universe. Instead, I bail anytime my prayer gets close to this topic.
This is not the holiest response. I’m fully aware of that. #notasaintyet I wrestle with my fear, self-reliance, and lack of trust. I have to struggle through it— with confidence the process will deepen my faith and trust in Our Lord in a new way.
This may sound like it validates the concern. I potentially have too much control. I can say yes or no to what God is asking.
This does not highlight a problem with Marquette or any technologically-advanced method.
No, it brings about a beautiful potential: to be a co-creator with God. Not merely a passive, albeit accepting, recipient.
God wants us to be open to His plan. Absolutely. Receptivity is a key piece of the feminine genius. And how much more powerful is our "yes," when we know we have the option to say "no?"
I do not see couples frivolously forever avoiding pregnancy with Marquette, even with its objective and accurate methods.
No, I see couples who previously avoided sex for a full year out of frustration and fear because they "kept getting pregnant" when they thought they were using their previous NFP method correctly. After just a few months of using Marquette and building confidence in their ability to understand their fertility, they open their hearts to the Lord's plan for their family.
When they don't have to white-knuckle grasp for control anymore, because they have the knowledge and tools to confidently plan their family size (i.e. what can be seen as "too much control"), they can turn their hands over to receive.
God doesn't need us to be confused by NFP so we accidentally get pregnant and simply have to accept the child He's sent. (Of course He blesses our families through those situations, too.) That whole free will thing is kind of how He rolls. He can definitely handle us having the knowledge and tools to say "no."
He trusts us to say yes even when we have the ability to say no. He will work on our hearts and walk with us in the moments we cling to “no” out of fear of what the “yes” to His plan may bring. The opportunity with an NFP method that has a proven typical use efficacy up to 99% is to be able to discern and confidently, selflessly, responsibly co-create with God.