I had a great interview with the witty and insightful Scott Eric Alt of Logos & Muse yesterday, and he incorporated parts of our conversation into his review, Seven Reasons to Read Simcha Fisher’s Book on NFP. This question came up:
Why should we trust this mother of nine to make the case for NFP? That’s a fecundity beyond all reason! Either she’s not using NFP at all (oh the deceit!) or it does not really work. Nancy Pelosi infamously said that you call NFP-users “mama” and “dada,” and Simcha Fisher is exhibit A.
He’s not the first one to delicately inquire how I presume to write about NFP, when I’ve had so many kids in such a short time. The short answer is that even exclusive breastfeeding is no match for my incredible, invincible, almost inexplicable fertility. I’m not kidding. You will just have to take my word for it that I do know what I’m talking about when I talk about abstinence.
The other answer is that this book is not based solely on my own experience. I was lucky enough to belong to a message board of NFP-users for many years, where men and women felt free to complain and console each other through the trials of NFP. Not only did I learn about other people’s experiences, I learned that one’s own experience is not necessarily The Experience.
Check out the rest of the interview here. We also talked about how God’s will works with free will; how NFP is not another kind of contraception, but another kind of life; and why I chose to write around NFP, rather than writing about NFP.
Next, Peter of Lightly Salted has written a really nice review in which he appreciates various points I made . . .
… but all these things do not make the book as valuable as the main thread of her argument that runs through each chapter.
Fisher’s main point is this: sex is for grownups. So if you want fantastic sex, you need to grow up! When we are childish, petulant, selfish and lazy in our approach to sex, it will be disappointing to say the least. So the struggles with married life are a gift in that, learning to be a grownup in our most intimate relationship not only makes that relationship much more fun, frolicsome and fulfilling, it teaches us to be grownups in every other aspect of our lives. In short, marriage helps us grow in holiness.
I can hardly fault Simcha for writing from a woman’s perspective. After all, she writes as a woman who has listened carefully to men and seems to understand the basics. But I wanted a chapter for men! A chapter from a man’s perspective might have rounded off the book as an even more excellent resource for couples than it already is. I don’t mean that she is hard on men. I think she is too soft in places. Sometimes it takes a man to tell other men to ‘man up’, and give some practical tips on how to go about it.
The book has a lot of chapters which are addressed equally to men and women, and then several which are addressed to women, encouraging them to understand, express themselves to, and encourage communication from their husbands. This was deliberate.
The first reason I addressed women more directly is that women are more likely than men to buy and read a book about relationships, so I designed the book for women to read and then share with their husbands. I did paint in broad strokes when describing how men and women usually think, and what most men and most women need. (My editor made me take out a lot of tedious “of course, this may not apply to you”s and “naturally, there is a lot of variation”s.) The goal of the book was not to tell men and women what women and men are thinking, respectively, but to encourage them to find out what their particular spouses are thinking. In general, women are more motivated to broach that territory.
The second reason is that the book was already extremely personal, and I really didn’t want to write a chapter that would inevitably come across as “10 Things Simcha Wishes Her Husband Would Understand; Sheesh, What Do I Gotta Do, Write a Book?” or “Mistakes that Husbands Such as Damien T. Fisher, 39, of Southern NH, Make When Dealing with Their Wives.”
Okay, three reasons: my plan original plan was to sell maybe 250 copies of a self-published ebook and that would be the end of it, so I wasn’t really attempting to put together the definitive compendium of NFP-related issues. But I fervently hope that my book will be the first of many about NFP, and I would love to hear more from and about men.