Can I be honest here for a sec? This is a review about a book about NFP –Natural Family Planning- and in the interest of disclosure, I feel like I need to tell you something up front – I hate NFP. My husband hates NFP.
Oh, but the bluebirds of sunshine say, think of the wonderful things it will do for your marriage and communication, etc…
And they need to stop…because really? No. It might work for other people that way, but we are clearly not other people. We are calendar-ly challenged and incapable of mucus observation. Clearly. We have seven children and thought of having anywhere near that number, so what could a mom of nine tell me about not being able to understand basal body temps that I didn’t already know?
That’s why I didn’t want to read The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning. What else was there to say on the subject?
It turns out that there’s a whole lot to be said. Who knew, right?
It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking NFP might be more trouble than it’s worth, and Mrs. Fisher doesn’t deny that feeling. Instead, she’s the girlfriend who brings you a cup of tea and says “Alright, it can suck, but there are good parts, too.” That’s the thing about this book, the wonderful part: she gets it. There are no wagging fingers or raised eyebrows. She never even hints that you’re going to Hell for hating it all. Instead, you get the feeling that she’s nodding her head in commiseration. This is the voice in the whole Catholic “open to life” discussion that I’ve been waiting to hear, and I didn’t even know it. That non-judgmental, tell-it-like-it-really-is kind of voice.
I’ll just skip to the good stuff here: I loved it. I loved every chapter. I can’t even pick a favorite. I started reading this book while my kids were in karate class, and had to stop because I was laughing so hard my snorts of amusement were distracting people. I pulled it out at bedtime intending to just read a chapter or two, but stayed up until after 2am just so that I could finish it. It’s that good.
I drank this book up. I had no idea how thirsty I was for honest truth and understanding on the subject of sex and NFP until Simcha Fisher handed me a big ol’ glass full of it. Thank goodness she did.
Simcha starts off her book talking about discerning family size, sweeps through Church teachings on sex and marriage, delves into the problems and roadblocks people have and then catches her breath long enough to say “Alright, we’ve acknowledged your issues, now let’s tackle them.” And she does. Using a brilliant mix of humor and brutal honesty, she shows readers that there is a way to live with NFP and not go crazy doing it. She has renewed my hopes that it is possible to live according to the teachings of the Church and not spend the next 10 or so years completely obsessed about what my body is doing every moment of the day.
I needed to read this book, and I suspect there are a lot of Catholic women and couples out there who need to read it as well. There are a lot of us out here who are struggling to live according to God’s laws for marriage and sexuality. We’re exhausted and feel like we’re the only ones who feel this way in a world full of those bluebird of sunshine chirpy happy people.
You’re not alone. We’re not alone. There are more of us out here than you’d imagine, and at last we have a voice. Go get Simcha Fisher’s new book The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning today. You need to hear what she has to say, because you’re not a bad Catholic for hating NFP. You just need a girlfriend to help you figure it out.
[editor’s note: click here for an interview with the the book’s author]