Discernment & Family Planning

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I am wrapping up this month of Love with a topic that may be more sensitive to some; discerning family size. 

Why is this a topic of a post on a blog about Fertility Health?

Fertility Awareness is a true method of family planning.  You can choose to either achieve or avoid pregnancy at any time. 

When we get married, we usually have an idea of how many children we would like to have in our family. 

We discuss this with our spouse and hopefully agree.  It could be 2, 4, or even 8 children.

But, as we grow older and are married longer, we change.  Our views, values, dreams and goals may change.  Our life circumstances change.  What we once thought we wanted regarding family size may also change.

That is why I think discerning family size is not a one-time decision.  It should be part of an ongoing conversation that does not close until we have entered into menopause or for whatever reason can no longer have children.

Communication about family planning and family size should be an important part of our married life.  I am not saying we discuss it every day, but it is good to revisit the conversation frequently.

Fertility Awareness allows this conversation to flow naturally because we have to discuss how we are going to use the days of fertility and infertility each cycle.  Bonus with this form of family planning is that we have not made a permanent decision. 

We may feel one way today about our family size but we do not know how we will feel a month, 6 months or even a year from now.  By using Fertility Awareness, we will not have regrets if we change our mind about our family size.

What are the benefits of the Discernment Conversation?

  • Find out if/where you spouse needs help

One or both of the spouses may feel overwhelmed with the number of children in the family.  You may have children that are very young and very dependent.  This can cause stress.  By having this discussion, both spouses may come to learn where and how they can be of more assistance to the other. 

We are called to walk beside our spouse and help carry their burden.  But, we don’t know where we need to help if there is no communication.

I have found having the opportunity to communicate when I am overwhelmed and when I need help makes such a difference.

  • Reevaluate our Motives

We may have legitimate reasons to put off pregnancy during a season or period of our married life due to multiple circumstances.  But, things change and life changes.

We should take some time to come together often to discuss our motives and if we are still in the same place as we were when we made our original decision. 

We should always be ready to challenge ourselves against cultural norms.  Remember, our society does not think fondly of children.  We are all called to a different family size and discerning can help us determine what works best for our family.

  • Reevaluate our Reasons & Season of Life

We all are dealing with different life circumstances.  We may have a lot of little ones in the house.  We may be struggling with health issues. 

We may be dealing with financial troubles or a loss of a job.  We may be stressed to the max because of everything going on in our lives and our family’s life.

There are definitely legitimate reasons to avoid a pregnancy.  What we must remember is that life is constantly changing and so is our life circumstances. 

Little ones grow up and begin to help, we find jobs and work out our finances.  By keeping the conversation open ended, we can discuss if we feel differently about our intentions.

I have found that having these discernment conversations with my husband have really opened up lines of communication about other areas in our marriage.  We learn what the other is struggling with or how we are each handling the stress of everyday life. We learn where we can support and encourage each other so they are not carrying the burden alone.

My motives and reasons for avoiding pregnancy have changed as the seasons of my life have changed.  I appreciate these discussions with my husband to help challenge my reasons and motives.  These discussions can also reaffirm our decision and also to let us know if we are still on the same page.

Some may say, “we have made a final decision regarding our family planning”, why should we continue to have discernment conversations?

We usually don’t make a final decision with regards to other important aspects of our married and family life.  We have ongoing conversations about finances, career and other aspects throughout our married life.

We evaluate how to manage our finances and see if we need to adjust our family budget.  We evaluate our job situation and see if we need to change up our career or seek better employment.  We may even evaluate our living situation and if it is the right fit for our family.

Your family planning decision may not change. But, by continuing to have the discernment conversation, you can continue to be confident in your decision. It is important to keep the communication lines open.

I created a Family Planning Reflection Worksheet years ago for some clients to help get the discernment conversation started.  They found it helpful so I decided to create it into a handy printable for you.  You can find the free printable Family Planning Reflection Worksheet here.

Every couple needs to discern what is right for them and their family.  Only the couple has all the information regarding their present circumstances and therefore can make the best family planning decision for them.