One claim I often come across in the fertility charting world is that "natural family planning benefits marriages". But if you know anything about natural family planning (NFP), you know that it involves *gasp* abstinence. How on earth can a practice that prescribes periodically staying away from each other possibly help your relationship? I'm glad you asked.
In my time training, teaching, and networking with other NFP users and professionals, I've come across many examples of how NFP can benefit relationships. Here are just a few:
1. Increases communication
In order for NFP to be effective (whether you are preventing or achieving pregnancy), it's essential for the couple communicate well about a number of intimate issues. Not only will they be discussing a woman's fertility observations (i.e., mucus!), but it's important for them to be able to talk about their desires, frustrations, shared goals, concerns, and dreams. Whether you are pros at communication, or need to improve in that area, practicing NFP is a great way to get in the habit of discussing important, intimate issues on a consistent basis.
2. Promotes understanding
Women are cyclical creatures, meaning our hormones rise and fall according to a unique monthly pattern. Unfortunately, society has done its best to shroud the female cycle in mystery, which is bad news for husbands everywhere. When a couple tracks a woman's cycle, they can better understand the woman's changing moods, energy levels and desires, making it a lot easier to get along. You may actually find you appreciate the cycle!
3. Supports emotional health
Women have long known that hormonal birth control messes with our moods and lowers libido. Now, a recent study shows that contraceptives are linked to depression. Thankfully, a couple wishing to avoid pregnancy can avoid the Pill and use NFP instead.
4. Encourages courtship
When a couple is avoiding pregnancy, natural family planning requires abstinence during a woman's brief fertile window every month. For a couple used to unlimited sex this might take some adjustment - however, many couples find that periodic abstinence builds a 'courtship and honeymoon' aspect into each cycle. After a week or so without sex, the end of the fertile window is often a time of renewed excitement and romance.
5. Builds intimacy
In addition to the creating an atmosphere of courtship in a relationship, using NFP means that a couple never has to use condoms or any other barrier methods. In addition, there is a special closeness that comes from the teamwork and cooperation that NFP relies on, which brings us to the next point.
6. Shared responsibility
NFP is unique as a form of pregnancy prevention because it requires both the man and the woman to assume responsibility. In order for NFP to be effective, both people have to understand the meaning of the woman's fertility chart and agree to follow the guidelines. It's a method of cooperation in every aspect: if the couple decided to have sex on a 'risky' day (still in the woman's fertile window), it's a mutual decision with both parties accepting the possibility of pregnancy.
While periodic abstinence can have it's own frustrations, natural family planning has the potential to be a wonderful, relationship building practice. Find out how to learn to chart your own cycle today!