Eugene and Trillion have been married for 20 years and have three boys aged between 14 and 18, the fruits of their love and God’s gift to them.
They hadn’t heard about Humanae Vitae (HV) until they became part of the expat church community when living in Shanghai in 2013, and they joined the Marriage Preparation Course (MPC) programme as volunteers. The curriculum was based on Theology of the Body by St Pope John Paul II and HV.
Despite their lack of understanding of HV, they had been practising Natural Family Planning (NFP) anyway, having been introduced to it during their MPC in preparation for their wedding 20 years before. “I was not a Catholic then,” says Trillion, “but NFP sounded like a really good idea as I didn’t want to take the Pill or use other invasive contraception methods for fear of side effects.”
“NFP is a wholesome, loving way of deciding together with our spouse how many children we plan for in the family,” explains Eugene. “At the same time, it allows us to be open to more children if God should kindly bestow them to us as a gift. I see it as God’s way of allowing us to cooperate with Him in building a family together.”
“One challenge is to abstain from sex during my fertile period,” explains Trillion. Working it out involved some discussion, adjustments and time. “We spend time doing non-sexual things and Eugene will try to distract himself by doing more housework and washing the car. Our friends are always amazed at how we can keep our house so clean without a helper. The secret is NFP!”
Jokes aside, the couple reveals that, as a result of NFP, their relationship is much stronger. They feel closer, sex is more meaningful, and because they focus on activities outside of their intimate time, they have grown so much more fulfilled as a couple – so much so that they often now think the same way, say the same things and behave similarly, as if telepathic.
“I’m just so thankful to our Lord for Trillion, and also for NFP as a gift being so instrumental to help me see her for the wonderful person she truly is,” Eugene exclaims. “One day we were driving and I was sharing with Trillion how much I loved her, how I miss her whenever she has to travel for work, how I yearn to be with her when she is not around. And maybe that is what it means to be one in the Sacrament of Marriage. Then it dawned on me that perhaps that is how God feels with us. That He loves us that much. He can’t wait to be with us, that’s why he is always beckoning to us, courting us. And perhaps why there is the Sacrament of Matrimony so that by loving our spouse so much, being called to be so close to each other as to become one, we can be privileged enough to have a glimpse of how much the Father and Son love each other.”
They are now a presenting couple at MPC and use the power of storytelling to share authentically about their experience practising NFP with engaged couples, sharing the challenges as well as the positive effect it has had on their marriage.
“It’s easy to learn,” promises Trillion, “and for the ladies, you will get to know when you are fertile and when you are not. This helps you, as it did me, when you are trying to conceive, space out your children or prevent a pregnancy.”
“Both Trillion and I are work in progress,” says Eugene. “We have much to learn and to progress through in our spiritual life. But through the practice of NFP, what we have found is a glimpse of true freedom. A freedom not shackled by or rooted in our personal cravings or desires, but a freedom to love.”