NFP Frustration - I Think


Hello, out there -
I’m new to this and looking for answers, help, support. My wife and I have been married a good long time and have been following NFP for most of it. Until the last few years, we were “there for each other” in between phases and to me, this was and is natural and normal. However, my wife had a friend who enlightened us several years ago that the church says that no sex other than intercourse is allowed outside of phase 3, and certain things are not allowed even then. For us, that limits us to being together once a month if we are lucky. Yes, we could take the chance and have more kids (we have four) and that would be fine with both of us if we could afford it. Doing otherwise then makes us irresponsible to bring children into this world we cannot take care of properly. Yes, we could totally throw it open to trusting God, but my wife gets pregnant easily and we always have thought He expects us to use the brains He gave us.
I read and hear that NFP is supposed to bring us closer together because of a mutual sacrifice, but over time, it has not. Granted, it is but one piece of what has been a number of stressful years - different work hours for both of us, very tough time with teenagers, unhappy at work - but frankly, I am pretty much to the point of “who cares” when phase 3 rolls around. I do not really look forward to it, at times have to talk myself into it so I can be there for my wife, and there is no connection or real intimacy at all in our relationship anymore. I have no drive or desire anymore; “use it or lose it” has become “it’s lost”. It should not be this way. In between phase 3’s, my mind tells me I should be desiring my wife, but I do not much. And trying to get myself so, sends me to the confessional. We do not really get to have sex, so when phase 3 rolls around, it just doesn’t really matter.
So, is this the way NFP is supposed to be over time? Does the church and God want a marriage to be almost sexless? While it is my greatest weakness, it seems I am left with the choice of sinning alone or bringing my wife to sin, which I cannot do. Or does this all fall under “no one guaranteed happiness in this life”? Yes, there is supposed to be more to intimacy than sex, but it helps when I can be close in that way with my wife. I can’t.
I am resentful of my wife, the church, and even God somewhat. Problem is, a part of me says I’m sure everyone is right but me. But I do not understand it at all. It is just another piece of my life I have no control over - the one thing I tend to think God gave to a husband and wife to share is something we almost cannot have.
I’d love to hear from anyone else feeling as I do and especially anyone who has gotten through it with a better relationship. Sorry for the long winded-ness.



Why are you not uniting during the infertile times?


Yes, we could take the chance and have more kids (we have four) and that would be fine with both of us if we could afford it. Doing otherwise then makes us irresponsible to bring children into this world we cannot take care of properly.

Could you say more about what “irresponsible to bring children into this world we cannot take care of properly” means? Will they starve if you have more children? Will you not be able to send all the kids to college if you have more? I need more information here.

I will certainly keep you in my prayers.



NFP is not supposed to be a long term thing.

It’s intended for those short periods in a marriage when it would be more undesirable than normal to have kids - the husband has become unemployed, the wife is very ill, etc. - it’s not supposed to go on for the entire marriage.

Normally, we are supposed to be “open to life” as we say in our marriage vows. NFP is not “substitute contraception” so that our families can look just like so many Protestant families, with 2.4 kids and a dog or cat. (Of course, a lot of Protestants have also discovered the “winging it” method, and it’s beautiful to see flocks and flocks of little Presbyterian children going off to Sunday School, too.)

Of course, in my case, the “winging it” method has revealed that God doesn’t actually want us to have kids, but every time we do it, the possibility is there, and of course hope springs eternal.

But yes, I highly recommend the “winging it” method above any other - it’s much less stressful, all the way around. :smiley:

PS: I can’t remember what “phase 3” is - if I ever knew. Can someone tell me?


The time after the wife has ovulated, when she is quite infertile.


OH, I see. Thanks!


Well, I tried this a minute ago and I was logged off, I think. Is it automatic if you take too long to post?

Let’s see, first, we unite at phase 3 when we can, which amounts to once a month. My wife works nights, I work days; we’re genuinely lucky if we see each other awake other than from Friday evening to Sunday evening when she goes back to work. In between, there area kids’ activities, church, RE, busines sometimes, etc. There is flat out very little time we get to see each other.
Which dovetails nicely to the responsibility side. It unfortunately takes both of us working to make ends meet. As much as we would happily have more kids, it is not financially practical to do so, and has not been for a long time. We have always believed “God would provide” and not in 2.5 kids. But is it not irresponsible to bring children into the world if we cannot afford to do so? College is not the issue, normal expenses for the next 20 years is an issue, multiplied by the number of children we may have.
I have never heard of NFP being a short term solution; I may have to ask some good Catholic, NFP friends their view of that. But if we did wing it and had more childrem, would it not be the same as now where we need to use NFP because we cannot financially afford more children?
I know I had more than this when I tried posting a minute ago, but oh, well…
And we will humbly accept any and all prayers.



Just to let you know, NFP can be used for long periods of time and still be a licit use… ie the health of the wife is at risk if she were to become pregnant again. Also, if your wife and you through prayer and discussion discern that another child would place a financial burden on your family as it is, that is a legitimate reason to avoid pregnancy. Financial burdens do not include things like money for a top line car, vacationing, ect and I do not believe this is the reason you and your wife are abstaining. You have normal expenses and believe that another child might place risk on your current financial balance. Ultimately, the Church gives guidelines, not strict yes here no here because each situation is different. A couple must use these guidelines and discern before God who is the ultimate judge, not we posters who know little of your situation (though a spiritual director might be good to consult if unsure).
Finally with your feelings of it being sexless, I think couples must remember that anticipation of the marital embrace demands actions and signs that show that highest and greatest love and sacrifice… namely that a couple throughout their marriage is making loving sacrifices for the other in little ways… ie chores, helping with kids… affection towards one another (keep love notes, holding hands, cuddling, and massages alive!) and growth in faith that culminates in marital embrace. I like to think of marraige as a life which one prepares for the marital embrace between each embrace in anticipation of when husband and wife come together (of course limiting very strong sexually stimulating activity to when the couple actually embraces). Gift of self is the same whether in chores or in the marital embrace and the small selfless gifts of self prepare for the highest and greatest gift of self in marriage, the marital embrace. If we keep that alive between sexual relations, the couple will come together in a more loving, selfless and satisfying embrace then if they spend time in between being indifferent in love and than when “phase 3” comes around trying to psych oneself up. If you want to look forward more to it, do not use imagery, use selfless acts of love and then you will create the environment that draws you to your wife and her to you!


I’m still a little fuzzy here. Why is it that your time is so limited again? I mean, why are you not uniting the other 20+ days a month? Maybe you just need to find some extra “crossover” time to meet up during the infertile times. It would seem that you’d only have one weekend a month to worry about (maybe two). Besides that, there’s Friday night, Saturday day and night and time on Sunday. That all equals more than once a month.


I’d like to step away a bit and add the first thing that came to my mind as I read your original post - and it is something you alluded to when you said…“I Think” in the subject line.

AND…although this will sound very blunt - it isn’t meant to be - but couching this in long, flowerly language won’t do any good either. SOOO…here is my point - you have A LOT of stuff going on in your life. I’m thinking that the “NFP Excuse” may just be something you are “conveniently” trying to pin this on. I’m betting that even if your spouse was available to satisfy your physical needs 24x7 (with no chance of new little ones running around) it still may not be enough - given all the other pressures you are under.

If you just realized that - and realized that unbridled sex won’t cure the money woes, won’t cure the “not at home at the same time” woes, and won’t cure most of the other pressures you are under - you may stop pinning the problem on NFP - and start to look for ways to clear up some of the other hassles.

While I do not share all the outside influences you are having - for a time I also “hated” NFP - and thought that it was the root of all my problems. But - it wasn’t - and the time I realized that is the time I appreciated NFP more - and was able to address some of the other issues.

Here’s what worked for me - get to a church that has Eucharistic Adoration - and try to carve out an hour a week to just sit before the Blessed Sacrament. Pour out your heart to God in the Eucharist - and ask for understanding. My favorite prayer was “Lord - Help My Unbelief”. I am truly AMAZED at how that prayer was answered. I found more and more that my heart was convinced of the truth of the Church - and I turned from some of the ways that were truly harming me. It was sin - not NFP that was causing my problems :frowning:

God Bless…I’ll add my prayers for you as well!


Try to make some times for yourselves. Drop an evening activity, class, club or whatever. If you chart, pencil in a “date”, when she is likely to be infertile, clear your calendar, swop shifts-whatever it takes.
An awful lot of couples are working too hard and too long to have any sort of sex life, this has nothing to do with NFP.
Are you being called to be more open to life?


If, due to scheduling, you’re only able to unite once a month or less, why do you even need birth control at all? Would not using NFP change the fact that your schedules are incompatible with marital relations? How is it NFP’s fault that you work days and your wife works night and you never spend time together?


I agree with “scheduling it in”… PLAN for it! Work your schedules out…
Sometimes anticipating intimacy by planning can actually spark up your love life! Intimacy doesn’t always have to be “on a whim”… there’s nothing wrong with planning a little love in your life…

Just like you’d plan ahead for a date night… there’s nothing wrong with “planning ahead” a little on intimacy! :slight_smile:


I kind of got the same feeling as Dadof11. The conflicting work schedules, the exhausting hours, the stresses of raising teenagers… are probably taking a much greater toll on your intimacy than the period of time you abstain to avoid pregnancy by using NFP.

If you ONLY connect intimately at the times you intend to have intercourse, it’s just not going to be what you’re hoping for, especially for the woman. I would look for some stress management techniques, plan times to be intimate without being sexual, and of course as Dadof11 says, lay it all down at the foot of the cross.


In some methods, such as the Creighton model, you are not always limited to phase 3. Plus it includes some ideas called SPICE to help you with your relationship. You might check in out and see if this method of NFP might work better for you, or if some of the ideas could be incorporated into your current method.



If our four kids were not all under the age of seven I would think you were my husband. I do not know how to answer you but I have an idea that your wife feels as I do. She misses the intamacy too but also is under stress from taking care of her family, her job etc. There is no way one person can do it all. I wish I had an answer for you but I know that my husband and I are going to try a Retrouvaille weekend coming up in January to try and help us get the communication in our marriage on track along with everything else. I will add you and your wife along with my prayers for me and my husband.


My wife and I have never attended one of these - but without a doubt - 100% of the people I know who have gone to a Retrouvaille weekend have loved it. I hope you have a similiar experience!!!

God Bless,



Thanks. I hope we have a miraculous experience at Retrouvaille. I think it is great you have such a large family. I am number 14 of 15 children we had such a fun time growing up and us brothers and sisters are still very close and the baby of the family will be 36 in October. MNMOM


Excuse my ignorance but what “other sex” is there besides intercourse?

My wife and i are in your shoes, we are extremely fertile people and have to basically avoid Phase 1 & 2 completely. Although like the previous people have said here, we plan Phase 3 days. We’ll have date nights, or just look foward to them. Little things can go a long way. I can desire my wife in Phase 2 but know that “we’re gonna have that date in a week or so”. It just take discipline and a little creativeness which I think can make things even more intimate and sexy.


Also what about the beinnging of Phase 1? Depending on your wife’s mentral cycle there are days there where you can have relations. Some people are against have relations during this time, but others are not, so there are some extra days you can possible squeeze out of the cycle.


But I know how you feel, both my wife and I work too to afford our living expenses. You are in my prayers.


I never studied the cycle in depth but I thought there were only a few days where you could become pregnant. Could someone point me to a site that explains the phases simply?

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