is the testimony of Fletcher Doyle and his wife
Tracy. Fletcher is a sports journalist in Buffalo,
NY, and Tracy is a physical therapist. When Fletcher
converted to the Catholic Church, they were
confronted with the Churchís teachings on birth
control. Their journey of faith led them to Natural
Family Planning. They have two children.
I joined the Catholic Church in March 1997. When I told my
wife I was joining the church into which she was born, it
brought her great joy. But this decision also brought on a
period of searching.
As we devoured information about the faith, one thing we
kept bumping into was the teaching on contraception. I kept
averting my eyes in the hope that the issue would just go
away. We had already been married for seventeen years.
My wife, who had a head start on me in matters of faith,
would not look away. She spotted an advertisement in our
newspaper about a grant being given to our diocesan
department of Natural Family Planning. She called the office
and had a wonderful conversation.
I had been in the church for almost two years when Tracy
told me that she wanted to give up contraception and try NFP.
Letís just say that I suffered a mild shock. I was raised in
the Presbyterian Church, and birth control wasnít an issue.
I was still digesting confession and devotion to Mary;
contraception wasnít even on my radar screen. Besides, I was
forty-five years old. What if this didnít work? Could I
handle another child?
We prayed about it during Lent, after which we went to our
introductory session and learned the science behind NFP.
Some quick figuring in my head as to how much abstaining
this would require triggered another crisis: Can I manage
I scheduled a meeting with a good priest to ask him why the
Church is against artificial methods of birth control. I
went to his residence on May 18, 1999, at 7 p.m. By 10 I had
a lot of answers and another crisis: How could I not follow
the teachings of this Church?
Driving home from that meeting, I tried to gather my
thoughts. Mt wife would, as always, expect me to reconstruct
the eveningís conversation word for word. She was waiting
when I arrived home, surprised that I had been gone so long.
I settled in for a long discussion.
The first thing I told her was that the Church had condemned
contraception from its first days and that the Romans
already had methods of birth control. That was enough for
her; the discussion was over, and so was our use of
This change of behavior brought about others in me. NFP
requires a mental discipline that I lacked. Iíve heard that
you are what you think about, and my mind was filled with
the idols of money, sex and fame. These left me empty and
unsatisfied. I was blessed in all areas of my life, but
often I found myself wanting more.
The things that were going through my head were sins against
chastity, and chastity is required to get through the
periods of abstinence required by NFP. You have to guard
what you look at and what you think about.
I heard someone say that your spouse should be your banquet
table. The reasoning behind this became clear. Checking out
women invites comparisons to your spouse, which is grossly
unfair. I concluded that the idea that you can look at the
menu as long as you donít eat is false.
Chastity is not abstinence only. Rather, it is the proper
ordering of desires toward your state in life. In marriage I
pledge to be faithful to my spouse, and that means in
thought, word and deed.
I also should never do something that reduces the dignity of
someone else. Chastity allows me to refrain from using
others, spouse or stranger, as sex objects, thereby
maintaining their dignity as persons made in the image and
likeness of God.
This has brought about a profound change in the way I look
at my wife, a woman I adored even before we heard of NFP.
She became even more beautiful to me. Now, more than ever
before, I had to consider her in her
entirety as a human person and avoid the trap of thinking of
her as someone to take care of my needs.
In fact, when I see any beautiful woman now, I think of the
benevolence of a God who brought women into the world so
that men would not have to be alone. I see all women as made
in the image of a God who is love, never to be used by me
even in the privacy of my own mind.
My life with my wife became more an act of giving rather
than taking. When we threw out the contraception, I knew she
trusted me to stand by her if she got pregnant again, even
if this meant I would be attending my childís high school
graduation the same year I retired. Knowing this makes every
act of intercourse even more special and leaves me in awe
that this special woman will do this for me.
My appreciation for what I had in life increased
exponentially, and I became fully aware of my blessings.
This has brought me great peace. God really does know best.
Once the wall of separation between Church and the state of
my sex life tumbled, my faith life flourished. I began to
see that the teachings of the Catholic Church were
beneficial and not intrusions. And so I began the ongoing
process of saying yes to them.
My only regret with NFP is that I didnít learn of it sooner.
Then I wouldnít have waited so long to experience the joy I
This testimonial, and 19 others like it can be found in
Fletcher Doyleís recent book, NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
BLESSED OUR MARRIAGE Ė 19 TRUE STORIES (St. Anthony
Messenger Press, 2006).
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB
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