He Says: NFP is putting a strain on our marriage

Your Life
Dr. Manuel P. Santos and Karee Santoos
May, 2016

When we went to the training session for natural family planning (NFP), the couple touted how NFP brought couples closer. I feel as if it’s tearing us apart instead. Lisa seems to be interpreting the safe times in such a narrow framework that they’re almost nonexistent.

She says: I’m terrified of getting pregnant right now

Mike is right – this is causing tension. But I am terrified of getting pregnant again any time soon; I had complications in my last pregnancy and my doctor told me to wait at least two years to get pregnant. How can I be absolutely certain I won’t get pregnant right now?

What do they do? 

Our hearts ache for this couple, who are struggling to do the right thing. NFP has many terrific benefits, but it can also have a very steep learning curve.

We would encourage them to seek assistance from a qualified NFP instructor, preferably one with a medical or nursing background. Some couples don’t need anything more than a cycle tracking app on a smartphone, but it sounds like Mike and Lisa need more.

An instructor’s guidance will minimize the chance of error and may also ease Lisa’s anxieties. The instructor will let them know if Lisa is interpreting the safe times too strictly. When the burden of interpreting the charts falls more on the teacher, Mike may feel less like Lisa is the gatekeeper of marital relations. Mike also can take charge of entering the data in the charts. The more Mike becomes involved in charting, the more he will realize “green light days” and “red light days” are dictated by Lisa’s biology, rather than her fears.

In addition, Mike and Lisa may not have chosen the method of NFP that works best with their lifestyle. For example, some methods involve over-the-counter ovulation prediction kits, while some don’t. Switching to a method that’s better for them can make a dramatic difference in a short period of time.

Finally, we urge Mike and Lisa to enjoy their yearning for each other, knowing it will eventually be satisfied. Adults know how to delay gratification, after all. In the “Song of Songs,” the lovers clearly savor the waiting time, as the bride-to-be sighs: “O that his left hand were under my head, and that his right hand embraced me!” (Song 2:6) Expressing that yearning outside the bedroom – through dates, poems, little gifts and enticing looks – is what will give their relationship the renewed romance they desire.

Note: Nothing in this column is meant to provide psychological or medical diagnosis, treatment or opinion.