If you are using fertility charting and natural family planning (NFP), you are learning some amazing things about how the female body functions, and about your own cycles in particular. If you’re like me, you are pretty fascinated by the whole thing. And if you are lucky enough to be paired with a science nerd or a guy with a dozen sisters, he's probably totally comfortable with it all.
However, if you are like many women, your man may find the consistency of your cervical mucus, cervical position, and daily temperature readings might be less than exciting. In fact, he may find them slightly freaky. If this is the case, the whole issue of deciding when to be intimate (especially if you are avoiding pregnancy) can feel awkward and decidedly unsexy.
Couples who are equally involved in the charting process often report a sense of shared responsibility, cooperation, and closeness. It’s one of the strengths of natural family planning. But how do you get a squeamist spouse on board?
Every couple has their own style and comfort level, but here are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own!
Learn NFP together.
Whether you’re taking an online course, learning in person, or just reading a book, this is actually one I think everyone should do. It’s crucial for both partners to understand what the guidelines of your chosen method are and why they are there. You’ll both know how to identify the fertile window, and which days to avoid if you’re postponing pregnancy.
Decide on your intentions.
This is vital to practicing natural family planning successfully. Are you avoiding pregnancy? Temporarily postponing? Actively trying to concieve? Not trying, but not avoiding? Have this conversation often; it's important to know where each person is coming from when making day to day decisions about sexual activity.
Keep the chart visible.
If you’re using a paper chart, put in on your bathroom mirror or on your nightstand. Make sure both of you have access to it and can check it any time. It will also serve as a reminder to chart consistently, and a way to prompt conversation.
Let him chart.
This is a bit much for some guys, but others find it extremely helpful to be a more active participant in the charting process. Maybe he can write down your temperature every morning, or perhaps it will be his job at the end of the day to ask about your observations and record them. Involving him in the actual charting process can help you both to stay on task, reducing the likelihood of missing days.
Discuss the chart.
The can be the hardest thing for some people. How to start? “So babe, how’s your mucus today?” “No temp shift yet, maybe tomorrow!” “My fertile window is starting today…” Clear communication is important so you can both adjust your expectations. It might be awkward at first, but if you get in the habit, you’ll soon find it a surprisingly comfortable topic. Perhaps it can even become a ritual. You might bring it up at the same time every day, maybe at lunch, while cleaning up after dinner, or while walking the dog.
If you notice your husband cringe at the terms ‘moist cervix’ or ‘egg-white mucus’, you may be more comfortable sharing this information via text or email, especially at first! You can even send him a picture of your chart accompanied by a cute interpretation. (“Mucus today, boo! Rain check on our hot date...?” or “Third high temp this morning! Can’t wait for tonight <3” )
Connect him with other NFP using guys.
As a woman in today’s post-Pill culture, I definitely feel isolated by my practice of fertility awareness. I can’t even imagine how the guys must feel! Thankfully, there are other NFP savvy dudes out there. Ask your girlfriends if their husbands would be willing to share their experiences with yours. If you don’t know any other NFP users, your local fertility educator may be able to connect you with support groups or other resources for like minded couples. And if all else fails, the internet is abundant with natural family planning-friendly commuities. Hearing about the joys and challenges of NFP from another man’s perspective may boost your guy’s confidence and comfort level with the whole thing.
Have a sense of humor.
Natural family planning can deeply strengthen a couple's relationship, but it’s important not to take yourselves too seriously. Just like sex itself, practicing natural family planning can be joyful, frustrating, clumsy, messy, poignant, and rich. Though natural family planning can bring deeper intimacy, mutual respect, and enjoyment of your sexuality, there are going to be poorly timed fertile windows, miscommunications, embarrassing observations, and more. Learn to laugh at yourselves and enjoy the ride!