I have been married for almost nine years now, but I have a number of close friends who are single. One challenge some of my close friends face is the normal and natural drive to have sex but choosing not to be sexually active outside of marriage. Some people may think that being married means I can’t relate to my single friends on the topic of sex, but actually I can. My husband and I practice Natural Family Planning (also called Fertility Awareness Method) in our marriage and as someone who is currently using it to postpone pregnancy, I find that I can offer my single friends a unique perspective.
With Natural Family Planning (NFP), a couple uses the knowledge of a woman’s fertility cycle in order to achieve or space pregnancy naturally. A woman is fertile about 100 hours a cycle, and if a couple chooses to postpone pregnancy, they abstain from sex during her fertile phase; if they wish to conceive then they take advantage of that time. This means, when single friends are struggling with their commitment to not have sex before marriage, I can be more than the sympathetic ear of someone who remembers those days long ago. Even now in marriage, I can offer the understanding of someone who also experiences and lives the challenges of holding off on sex.
Sex is often thought of as a right for anyone, and perhaps most especially for married couples, but I disagree. I believe that sex is meant to communicate the life-long respect and care that a married couple should have for one another. I feel that being intentional about when we have sex encourages my husband and me to love this way and to examine our motives regularly. A few questions it raises are:
- Is our love for one another selfless?
- Are we using each other for the physical pleasure found in sex, but separating it from the honor and respect due to one another? It might be easy to deceive ourselves and to think that we are completely loving one another wholly and wholesomely, but NFP provides a reality check.
- Does our love for one another extend beyond our sexual relationship? Making the effort to show acts of love—like simple kisses or notes of affection—outside the bedroom is also very important.
- Do we love one another enough to say “no” when having sex right at this moment might not be the best thing for our relationship or our family?
- Is our respect for one another greater than our sexual urges?
Of course our sexual urges aren’t bad. They’re good. They call us out of ourselves to give a gift of ourselves to one another. And this can be said of both single and married people. But to be a true gift, it must be given freely, and to be given freely I must choose it and not just be giving in to natural urges. As others have said, if we cannot say “no”, our “yes” means nothing.
So that’s the advice I offer my single friends and remind myself when we’re struggling to hold off on sex. When we choose to say “no” —because we don’t want to get pregnant or we don’t want to get too serious too soon in a dating relationship—we are making our ultimate “yes” all the more meaningful.
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