Using natural methods of fertility regulation (aka, "NFP", e.g., "Creighton") makes marriages stronger. You've probably even heard some people go so far as to say it's one way to "divorce proof" your marriage. That's a pretty extreme statement but statistically couples that use NFP do have a significantly lower divorce rate than the general population. It should follow then, that if you're using NFP, your marriage should be thriving, right? Dandy? Amazing? Passionate? Better than ever!? GAH! So why are you struggling? Why do you feel at odds with your husband? Frustrated. He's frustrated. Half the time it feels like you "can't have sex" and then when you miraculously "can", you have out of town guests staying with you or the baby is sick or you're too exhausted. Or infertility is taking a serious toll on both of you and honestly sex just feels like a chore at this point. If the most enjoyable date night activity you can think of right now is lighting your Creighton chart on fire and watching it burn... well, you're not alone. While long term using NFP can (and does) strengthen your marriage... wow. It can be Really. Dang. Hard. If you're in a season like this... I've been there. So many couples have been there. Below are some ways to help you not only survive this season but maybe come out the other side with an even better marriage - and hopefully sort out your chart in the meantime!
Use all of your available resources. Your FertilityCare Practitioner (FCP) If you're in a tricky time with you're chart, be sure that your in very good communication with your FCP and attending follow ups on whatever schedule they recommend. To work out really tricky situations, this might mean meeting weekly or biweekly for a period of time. If financial reasons make this challenging, please be forthright with your practitioner about this. No one in our center has ever turned away a client due to inability to pay. We want to help you and will figure out a way to do so. In addition to meeting with your practitioner, be sure you are following all of her recommendations and instructions. Poor observations and charting make challenging situations even trickier and more frustrating. Sometimes we get stumped as practitioners as well and that's why we love working in a group. We can always get second (and third and fourth!) opinions and input from other experienced practitioners. Each of us has different areas of expertise and we never hesitate to weigh in on other tricky cases. Your doctor Your Creighton chart is a window into what is going on with your fertility and very often (especially in challenging situations), it reveals health issues that need to be addressed. Napro trained physicians have specific, effective protocols that can help with a variety of situations. The decision to make the leap and be evaluated by a Napro physician could be really beneficial! And if you're hitting a wall with a doctor that you're working with, maybe it's time to seek a second opinion. Your FCP can help you talk this through and see if a second medical opinion could benefit your situation. Other health care professionals If your marriage is really struggling, it might be time to get additional help. A counselor or therapist can be massively beneficial in challenging situations. Even if your spouse is resistant, individual counseling can still help give you the tools you need to get through some really hard times. Your FCP can help connect you with professionals that align with your values. Additionally, are there any other health care professionals that might be helpful in your situation? A holistic or naturopathic doctor? A pelvic floor physical therapist? Challenging situations often require a multifaceted approach. Be sure that you're using all the resources available to help you to help you achieve your best health and best marriage possible.
Get started (or keep going) with the SPICE activities! You might be doing all of the above things to work on your tricky chart but all of that, unfortunately, can take time. Support your marriage in the meantime. You'll hear your FCP talk about "SPICE" - an acronym that stands for the spiritual, physical, intellectual, creative / communicative and emotional aspects of your relationship. Build these up! Everyone is unique as to how they feel loved and fulfilled in these ways. Challenge each other to make a list of 1-2 ways they feel loved and cherished for each of the 5 categories of SPICE. Exchange lists and commit to doing at least 2 of the things off your spouse's list in the next week! A marriage with no (or very little) sex (for now) or a marriage going through health issues or infertility are serious crosses. Try hard to keep encouraging each other that this is a season. And in the meantime, you can build up your marriage to become even stronger, more resilient and intimate than it was before.
Find comradery. Is there anyone in your life or circle that can relate to your fertility struggles or current situation? If you feel comfortable leaning on them a little - do so. We all need support, especially in difficult seasons! And if you have even just one friend you can talk to about this stuff, it can really help. Sure, you talk to your practitioner, your doctor, your spouse, but often those conversations are intense and difficult and heavy. I've found that having a friend I can confide in and can relate to the struggle often can help give perspective and even lighten the situation with a little humor. Of course, be sure that your spouse is comfortable with you chatting about these topics outside of your marriage. Adhere to boundaries you're both comfortable with.
Above all, remember this: You're on the same team. Difficult charts can = LOTS of marital frustration. This can very easily turn into frustration AT each other instead of the situation itself. This is your spouse. The person you love most in the entire world. Your person. You are on the same team. You WILL get through this time but it'll be a lot better to get through it together. Some gentle reminders along these lines: Husbands, it's not fair to have your wife attend follow ups alone, report back on what was said and then get frustrated with her. Sit in on follow ups. Ask your questions. Ask the hard questions. Express your frustration. I promise we can take it. Let's figure it out together! Your wife is reading the objective biological signs of her body and recording them on a chart. She has NO control over what those signs are. So its totally ok to be frustrated with the chart but remember - you're frustrated at the chart together. Not frustrated at your wife or her body. Learn the system. Understand it as well (or even better!) than your wife so you guys can do this crazy journey together.