How NFP Has Blessed My Marriage And Strengthened My Walk With God During This Struggle Called Life by Bill Rodda

June 14, 2022 Article by  

“The life of man upon earth is warfare.’ So said Job many centuries ago. There are still some easygoing individuals unaware of this fact” St. Josemaria Escriva

I read a fascinating article a while ago about happiness. It seems the least happy times for most people are in their 40’s—with all the financial pressures of taking care of kids, sometimes parents, and work, work, work. The article says it gets better with time and I hope this is the case, as I am 47 and right in the thick of things.

Life is a struggle. For me the hardest part has not been figuring out the truth, but submitting my will to it. Fortunately our Lord has given us a road map—for most of us it involves marriage. God has given the majority of us a helpmate to be with us on our journey. NFP is one of the main building blocks the church has given us to support marriage.

The reason I start off with the concept of struggling is that I believe very strongly that this is what we are called to do as Christians. Life, simply speaking, is not easy. In our call to imitate Jesus we must get out of our comfort zones and brave the world. As traditional marriage is treated with increasing scorn and NFP not looked upon at all, I believe both to be increasingly important as a witness to the modern world.

As I struggle on a daily basis to subsume my will to that of the Almighty, I look back on my 22 years of marriage and count them as the best of my life. Way back on April 29th of 2000 I said “I do!” to the love of my life Veronica. Nine kids later we are still going very strong. I have one of the best marriages I know and I attribute it mainly to two things. First on the list was letting the Lord pick my wife for me—with me getting my ego out of the way. The second is the Church’s teaching on Natural Family Planning.

My wife Veronica and I met during World Youth Day 1995 under John Paul II. While only 20 at the time, I felt the calling of the Holy Spirit immediately upon meeting her. Within several hours of talking with her my heart started thumping and I thought—“I could marry this girl!”. At 21, however, I was simply not ready to be married. But she was the standard by which all other girls would be measured. I struggled with the distance, her thick language accent, but most of all my perceived lack of freedom in choosing what I wanted to do. We continued to write each other over the next several years—letters, not email. They started slowly but picked up steam.

I dated a few girls in college but none measured up. After dating a hard core feminist for a few months (I was lonely, she was cute!), the good Lord kicked me in the rear end. I made a promise that the next girl I seriously dated I would marry. He put another young woman in my life who wanted to go to mass with me. She was a very good person. While still writing Veronica and feeling increasingly conflicted about seeing this new girl, I had a St. Paul moment where God just said “No!” I immediately stopped the new, but intense, relationship. Five months later, now 23, I got on a plane to the Philippines to go see a girl I had been writing for three years. For good measure she left me at the airport waiting for two hours before picking me up. The Lord does have a good sense of humor! I struggled to let go of my bachelor life when she came to the US on a fiancé visa. I had to learn it wasn’t I and her—it was US! When I finally gave in I gained freedom.

After we got married I didn’t want to hang out with my friends as much. I wanted to spend time with my best friend—my wife! This was quite a revelation for me. In losing control of my social life I gained my true vocation through marriage.

I want, I want, I want! As a red blooded American male with vigorous appetite for all life has to offer, being told no is not something I want to hear—especially when it comes to intimacy. NFP has helped me so much to tame my selfishness with this issue. By committing to the Church’s teaching on contraception, we have been extremely blessed. There have been sacrifices made and desires momentarily unfilled. Praise the Lord for the honeymoon phase every month!

Several years ago my wife and I drove two hours from our home in Sacramento to see noted psychologist Leonard Sax speak. Of all the predictors of happiness in life the greatest one is delayed gratification. It makes sense when you stop and think about it. How many times does the latest advertisement shout, “Get the (fill in the blank) you deserve!”? It is a lie. We don’t deserve anything in life, except perhaps the politicians we elect. We are given, although we don’t deserve it, a shot a redemption through the cross.

Self-denial, reigning in our passions and practicing self-control, make the moments in life when we do get to celebrate that much more enjoyable. Imagine if it were a feast day all year long. I would be dead of a heart attack in two years! The reason I bring up the struggle of self-denial is that it is essential to Christian life. There can be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. Also, it makes feast days that much better. NFP is the “diet” that will truly help us with the conjugal love aspect of our relationships.

NFP has forced me to think about my wife in a way that would never be possible without it. Our sexuality is a great gift from the Almighty and NFP is one of the premier tools in the Church’s toolbox to explain it. It takes into account not only the physical happenings during a woman’s fertility cycle but more importantly reaffirms the idea of God’s design of creation. The female reproductive system is amazing! I never would have thought about it that deeply if we were contracepting.

I am consistently awed and oftentimes incredulous over the changes in my wife’s body over the years. I’ve come to be more attentive and sensitive to her. It is a never ending journey of discovery.

While I have obviously pointed out some struggles of my life I don’t want to say it has been without it’s fruitfulness. Self-sacrifice has paid off handsomely in so many ways. My nine children are a joy. In foregoing marital relations before marriage the bounty of right living has been enormous. I’ve never had to wonder “what if?”. By submitting to God’s will on NFP we have been extremely fortunate to meet people of amazing character who have the same values as we do. Most importantly God has strengthened our marriage and will hopefully lead us to everlasting life.

Bill Rodda, long time CANFP Member/Supporter, is a proud husband and father of nine who sells pottery and fountains for Pottery World, his family business in the Sacramento Region.