|Is it Phase 3 yet?|
It's very difficult to wait for marital intimacy without wanting to throw a great big tantrum sometimes. But the waiting itself is one often misunderstood aspect about NFP in that it helps impart grace and virtue of its own accord.
You see, the joining of spouses is a very good thing, if not the best human thing, in and of itself. It is a glorious part of God's creation, a mystery of the relationship between God and His Church, a perfect unity of masculinity with femininity, a glimpse into the inner life of the Trinity, and all that other cool stuff. (Really. Go read where I cite the Catechism and the Bible and some saints and popes. read Parts Two and Three also.) Plus, married love is just plain amazing.
Yet, as an NFP couple, we delay this awesome love, and frequently at that. Yeah - it's tough. Even though we've been practicing it for years, it's still very difficult waiting for the embrace. But I'm beginning to notice the good in waiting, too.
Waiting for something that is good bears fruit in and of itself in a few different ways:
It makes you appreciate the good all the more. People who live on the beach, in my experience, appreciate it less than people who only visit the beach once or twice a year. The difference is in access. The live-on-the-beach folks have access 24x7 to the beach. The rest of us have to .... wait. I think that this causes us to appreciate the beach that much more, because of the anticipation, of the experience of the new (even though we've been to that same beach before). It's the same in NFP marriages, where the Phase 3 times are appreciated more because they are so eagerly waited for.
It makes it easier to wait for other things (practice makes perfect, right?). When you're used to waiting days, sometimes weeks, for one the highest goods in the known universe, then waiting for something trivial like chickens to grow up is nothing. It seems silly, really, in retrospect (and in the height of phase 2).
It helps direct focus to the totality of marriage. As a teenager, I used to think marriage was awesome because you could have sex any time. (Ha!) Marriage is awesome for a billion other reasons first. I think the overarching reason, that unites all of the others, is in the melding of two lives into one. Yes, there is a oneness of flesh through the sacrament itself. But there is oneness in purpose, in mind and heart, that is achieved through paying attention to all of the other ways to love, too. Sex is like the oh-so delicious cherry that completes and perfects the sundae that is a healthy marriage.
Now, I fully admit that the waiting sucks. It is hard, it's obnoxious, it tries my patience (why, oh why, did I pray for patience that one time!?), and it just plain gets old. But it does make for more appreciation of the good. I guess it's just taken a few years to figure that one out. :P
Now excuse me, I need to go check my