Couples using Natural Family Planning are accustomed to communicating deeply and frequently. According to researchers at Marquette University College of Nursing, use of NFP improves a couple’s overall relationship, but specifically focuses on communication. One couple said, “Since we speak about our fertility on a daily basis (my husband charts and asks my observations daily), NFP has helped our level of communication remain very deep and intimate and always above-board, open and honest.”
Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of marital breakdown. For the NFP-using couple, honest communication is essential. Procrastination isn’t an option. Each month, the NFP couple discusses whether or not they will be avoiding or planning pregnancy. In order to be successful at this, it’s necessary to discuss the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. My husband has often said, “If you can talk about your wife’s cervical mucus, you can discuss anything.”
To briefly review how NFP works: husband and wife chart the wife’s signs of fertility and infertility. (Note: the man is fertile every day of his post-pubescent life, assuming there are no health difficulties). The couple then determines the start and end of the fertile time (we call it Phase II). If they are avoiding pregnancy, they abstain during the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during this time. Although it sounds simplistic, there are various scenarios, conditions and more complicated issues that arise, so formal NFP classes (either live or online) are recommended.
One of the keys to each couple’s success in using NFP is effective communication. NFP works best when the couple together study and observe the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. Ideally, each month, the NFP couple discusses whether they will be avoiding a pregnancy or achieving a pregnancy. Because NFP can be used both to plan and to avoid pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have this conversation every month, even if the couple has decided that they will be avoiding pregnancy for a year or more. When internal shifts in emotional attitude are brought to the surface, the couple can unite in their efforts to carry out their plans regarding abstinence.
In over 30 years of using NFP, often one of us was more open to pregnancy than the other. Sometimes our monthly conversations were long and complicated; other times, short. The important point is that these types of dialogues are meant to take place well before -- and not in the middle of -- the marital embrace.
When the NFP couple is discussing intimate topics such as mucus and other fertility signs, it enhances their marital and sexual life, thereby increasing intimacy. This sort of communication should also continue when the couple is postpartum (after having a baby) and in post-menopause (after menopause).
When they are avoiding pregnancy, abstinence can be difficult and challenging. Being able to freely talk to your spouse helps you to understand that you are not alone in the struggles and challenges of NFP. This can help to bring a couple closer together and can promote marital stability. NFP demands the kind of intimate and deep conversations that allow the couple to grow closer.
Natural Family Planning has many benefits. One of its most significant benefits is that it promotes deep, honest and frequent marital communication.
Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo by Tim Baklinski of Two Trees Photography. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ellen and her husband, James, have been certified NFP teachers for the Couple to Couple League since 1984 and teach Theology of the Body to teens. She’s also an award-winning, bestselling author of ten books, an editor, a publisher and a self-publishing book coach. Her newest novel is Ella's Promise. The mother of five adult sons and grandmother of one precious grandson, Ellen lives in Pakenham, Ontario with her husband. Contact her at Full Quiver Publishing.