The Shared Responsibility of NFP

What’s even more killer is when the cycle has yet to return. We’re at 10+ months right now and well, it’s rough. We’ve got the alarm set and I make sure the thermometer is right next to the bed… but that’s all I can do. She enters the temps into her app and does observations… and again, that’s all I can do. The only positive is that baby sleeps through the night just fine so there’s nothing wacky about the temps.

But temps mean nothing when you have no idea if the spike is coming in a few days or a few months. Cycles didn’t return last time around until 14 months.

To your point, yeah the best thing a man can do here is be understanding, suck it up and also realize it’s probably no picnic for his wife either. And I don’t just mean the breastfeeding and the previous experience of pregnancy… I mean the less frequent physical intimacy as well! I’ve helped with understanding the methods and pointing out how the basic infertile pattern works and the rules associated, but again, that’s all you can do when cycles have not returned.

I can understand the OP’s frustration… and her husband’s frustration. I think a sober, level-headed talk is in order. And honestly, I think the OP should say “Yes, this is frustrating because I want you too!” I know it doesn’t address the physical needs, but my wife telling me that she “misses” me does help tremendously with my emotional needs. I’m very much a “touch” person and associate physical intimacy, especially sex, with feeling that I’m loved and wanted. So while the frequency is way down in this transition period, I think that upping the “I miss you” type talk and other touching could help. I mean, it could also lead to increased frustration too so your mileage may vary. But I know in my own experience, I can better deal with the physical frustration if I know that my wife still very much desires me, reinforces that our infrequency is beyond her control, and that she’s annoyed by it too.

Yeah, there is a solidarity that forms between the husband and wife when open communication happens as you describe. Husbands need to understand that women are not in control of what their body does, and they need to understand that it is difficult for her to abstain, too (although sometimes she is so "touched out"and exhausted that she doesn’t think about it as often as him). When my husband and I had to use NFP, we checked in with each other every few days. I would ask my husband how he was feeling, we would express our desires for intimacy, and we would substitute something else that would suffice (one of our favorites was cuddling while watching an action movie). My husband was really good at interpreting the charts, too, so I just recorded everything, and he let me know when phase III was expected. I refused, when we learned NFP during our conversion, to play gatekeeper. I never wanted it to be his needs pitted against my “uncooperative” body.
I know some women prefer to do all of the charting themselves, and that works well for them, but every marriage is different. Some of us need the feeling of being a “team player” in order to not feel guilty for what is completely outside of our control.:o

Thanks for that perspective. I actually had a decently long discussion with my wife very recently about “figuring out” what’s going on in this transition stage. I know she can’t control what’s happening. I totally get that. What I want to know is does she care? Literally. Is she trying to get ahold of what’s going on and is she making it a priority because she wants to be physically intimate more?

I’ll admit that it does little more than “take the edge off” when it comes to the physical stuff, but it makes it way, way easier emotionally when I know that a) she’s trying to figure it out b) she asks for my help and c) we’re “in this together” when it comes to frustration with lack of intimacy. That little bit of knowledge goes a long, long way to making me feel wanted, desired and loved.

Setting an alarm is a good idea. Or, some posters have mentioned Marquette, which would be easy to remember. Taking your temperature is a lot easier to forget than using the bathroom in the morning! You actually have a 6 hour window, so plenty of time. It might work better for you, considering your circumstances.

I don’t think your husband is being fair to blame you for forgetting, if he can’t remember either. My husband and I never shared responsibility for NFP though, it didn’t feel necessary. There wasn’t really anything for him to do. But, I also didn’t have two kids, so forgetting wasn’t really an issue. It doesn’t sound like you care if he’s involved, but rather that he’s blaming you and then not helping either.

I think at this point, since neither of you are reliably remembering, the best thing to do is either set an alarm, or try out a new method that doesn’t rely on temperatures.

I think this is very much where my husband is at. I understand his frustration, and I think he sometimes perceives me as being indifferent to the abstinence when I know that I am not.

I am not looking for any help with interpreting my CM or making any observations–that definitely lies on my shoulders and I don’t have any problem with it. I’m really good at keeping up with that. It’s the darn temperature that I keep missing and that I wish he would help me a little more with. Even if he just stops me when I’m walking out of the room to remind me.

Burt Macklin, I completely understand why you would want to stay away from the clinical aspect of mucus interpretation and the like. I don’t want my husband involved in that, either. And, while response doesn’t fully apply to my question, I definitely love the screen name. Burt Macklin: FBI! :slight_smile: (Parks and Recreation is my favorite show.)

I like the idea of a special alarm, so thank you for the advice. I will have to give it a try. I wish I could say the baby was on a regular schedule which would make it much easier, but she’s been all over the place lately. Some days, she’ll get up to nurse at 3:00 and then sleep again until 7:00. Other days, she’ll wake to nurse at 5:00 and be up for the day. So maybe I should just have a little alarm that goes off at 3:00 and I can take my temp and go back to sleep at that time.

Well then if I may be so bold as to formally suggest that you just flat-out tell him otherwise. Yes, you are probably tired with the baby and whatnot as well, and I’m sure he knows that. In fact, he may know that too well. He may just assume that you’re “too tired” and that physical intimacy is not on your mind at all. So disabuse him of that assumption! Give him a short “I miss you too” talk and tell him that you want to do all you can to get back on track, if possible. That doesn’t mean you or he won’t be absent-minded at times or that you may discover the pattern too difficult to decipher. That might happen. It’s happened in my own life for sure! But knowing that, despite all the travails of being a mommy, you’re still all about sharing physical intimacy with him might just perk him up.

It’s the darn temperature that I keep missing and that I wish he would help me a little more with. Even if he just stops me when I’m walking out of the room to remind me… So maybe I should just have a little alarm that goes off at 3:00 and I can take my temp and go back to sleep at that time.

Maybe he should set the alarm. Or at least have one too. You don’t need a “full night’s sleep” before taking the BBT. You just need a few consecutive hours. So go to bed at 10pm, wake up at 3am, do the temp and then pray that the baby stays asleep so you can hit the hay again.

I’ve really tried this, and I’ve tried it often, and it seems to make him happy for a moment, but that moment really passes quickly. The next time he feels frustrated, he reverts to saying things like “This will never change, so I’ve given up the idea of ever being intimate again.” or “Well it clearly doesn’t bother you any.” There have been times where he has mentioned that he really hates NFP. I think that when he is frustrated (about anything, not just our intimate situation), he falls back onto some blanket statements and also says things he doesn’t necessarily mean. But I do feel incredibly guilty. When I have any signs worth charting, the thought flashes through my mind that I should maybe lie about them so that I won’t disappoint him again. I wouldn’t do that, I’m just saying that it runs through my mind. I know that taking my temperature won’t change the symptoms I’m experiencing, and it won’t necessarily change our situation any, but it would at least help him to see that I DO care and that I AM eager for things to change.

Maybe I’ll recommend the alarm to him. Although, I’m doubtful he would want to wake up in the middle of the night–that’s my role in the family. I’ll talk to him about it tonight and see if it is something he would be willing to do. If not, then I think it is something I will have to adopt on my own. As long as it’s getting done, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish. :slight_smile:

Ophelia23 said:

““This will never change, so I’ve given up the idea of ever being intimate again.” or “Well it clearly doesn’t bother you any.””

That’s way, way out of line.

I don’t know what you should do about that, but maybe just saying, “Do you really think that’s true?” would be a start.

“There have been times where he has mentioned that he really hates NFP. I think that when he is frustrated (about anything, not just our intimate situation), he falls back onto some blanket statements and also says things he doesn’t necessarily mean.”

That’s not OK.

Again, I think I’d ask him, “Do you really mean that?” and then wait for him to answer. Try to coax him into expressing himself more clearly and temperately.

I would also ask him, “Do you want me to stop breastfeeding? I’m pretty sure that would regularize my cycles within two or three months” and do it if he said yes.

“But I do feel incredibly guilty.”

Don’t.

One thing I tell my kids and husband (and of course the husband gets it said in a more wifely tone of voice) is, “I’d like you to either stop complaining or start trying to improve your situation.” I REALLY don’t like it when people (big or little) complain about things that they have the power to improve. For instance, in my husband’s case, if he complains of some ailment for a week, but makes no move to see the doctor, I’ll tell him to either make plans to see the doctor or stop complaining–if it’s serious enough to complain for a week, it’s serious enough to see the doctor for. (That may sound kind of cold, but I’m from a WASP family–Thou Shalt Not Whine is the 11th commandment in my family of origin.) In your husband’s case, he can improve the situation by 1) helping to remind you to take your temperature (my husband does that) and/or 2) the two of you together can decide to start weaning.

“When I have any signs worth charting, the thought flashes through my mind that I should maybe lie about them so that I won’t disappoint him again. I wouldn’t do that, I’m just saying that it runs through my mind. I know that taking my temperature won’t change the symptoms I’m experiencing, and it won’t necessarily change our situation any, but it would at least help him to see that I DO care and that I AM eager for things to change.”

I’m not so sure. Your guys sounds kind of whiny about this.

Good luck!

I also feel like you need to bring your husband more into the loop with record keeping and decision-making. Have you slipped into a gate-keeper role? That’s not good.

You might want to start doing more regular check-ins with him where you have a look at your charts together and try to make sense of them. And try to get him to do some reading on breastfeeding NFP with you. You’re probably entering (or have already entered) a phase where your body would LOVE to pop an egg, and will do so at the slightest provocation, but can’t quite manage it yet. That’s a tricky time.

Remember, you can always wean and have much clearer fertility within 2-3 months.

My husband did a lot of science as an undergrad, so it’s always been very natural for him to manage our charting. He’s always been into the science fair aspect of NFP. Try to encourage that side of your husband, if he’s got a science interest.

Best wishes!

Yeesh. Um, I’ve definitely said something along those lines a few times, but to be honest, my wife opens up less about her feelings than most men. She just kind of expects me to “get it.” Or to not have feelings. Or something. And it’s very weird because she’s very, very good at picking up on other people. So basically she knows when other people are upset, frustrated, lying, etc… but doesn’t breathe a word about her own emotions.

We read the “love languages” thing and I think it has helped. It made me feel good to know immediately what language she speaks… and then angry at myself for never speaking it! We’re both trying to make an effort to remember that we basically speak opposite languages (I’m a touch and talk guy, she’s a gifts/quality time/doing tasks gal).

Basically, while I’ve said this sort of thing before, she’s never really made an effort to discuss the situation in the past. This is improving. That said, it was very passive-aggressive of me and not right regardless of the circumstances.

Maybe I’ll recommend the alarm to him. Although, I’m doubtful he would want to wake up in the middle of the night–that’s my role in the family. I’ll talk to him about it tonight and see if it is something he would be willing to do. If not, then I think it is something I will have to adopt on my own. As long as it’s getting done, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish. :slight_smile:

I’m not a fan of waking up at 3am. My wife actually is if you can believe that. Or at least not too long thereafter. She goes to bed early and wakes up early because she hits the gym at 5am. Every weekday. So I’ve gotten used to that… and to getting back to sleep immediately.

So I don’t mean to draw unfavorable comparisons or anything like that because Lord knows I’ve got a ton and I mean a ton of my own problems, but I don’t get that. Because to be honest, if you um… want what you want as a guy… you gotta make the effort. I mean, I had to get married! With that in mind, waking up at 3am to help record a temperature is nothing. I can always go back to bed. And I do.

Ophelia,

I don’t want to bash your hubby, I really don’t. But the way he is talking to you is really not good. Please don’t let him talk to you like this. As soon as he says,“Well, it clearly doesn’t bother you any,” or “I’ve given up on ever having intimacy again,” say something along the lines of, “Ouch.” or “That really hurt.” Don’t say anything else after that. Say absolutely NOTHING ELSE. Do not give him anything else to argue with or retaliate against. Let him think about it, mull it over in his own heart. Let his conscience do the talking. Hopefully it will bring about a change in his habit of saying things he doesn’t mean when he’s frustrated. Not meaning to say hurtful things does not justify saying them and hurting those we love, especially the one closest to us - our spouse. Good luck!

And BettyBoop416 stands by her observation.

Being responsible for the observations that NFP requires would ruin intimacy for me.

So would having your wife get fed-up with your hangups and immaturity about the female body. Sorry Burt, but it gets messy sometimes.

I wouldn’t consider someone saying they don’t accompany their spouse into the bathroom as a hangup or immaturity.

Thanks but no thanks, if my husband wants to observe my NFP symptoms. No one regularly checks the position of my cervix but me.

Keeping in mind that the only way to check it is to squat down and put my finger up there or to lay out in a GYN exam position and have him put his finger up there. (Sorry, people, don’t mean to get gross.) Either way, it seems a little clinical for me. And not something I would think normal couples do.

My wife and I have exactly the same issues as the original poster (two kids, 3 and 1, another on the way). I have said and thought things I shouldn’t, we fail to understand each other’s needs or state of mind, our beloved children and our fertility seem like millstones around our relationship’s neck. I was listening to Taylor Marshall recently, and he reminded me about something very important: marriage is a sacrament, and sacraments give grace. NFP is no cake-walk with kids and urges, and it hasn’t turned our marriage into a bed of roses (though it was an amazing source of grace when we first adopted it). But reading Simcha Fischer’s hilarious and honest Sinner’s Guide to NFP taught us that we needed to communicate, to understand each other, to co-operate, and (especially in my case as a man) to master my appetites in the name of love. We are not all the way there yet, but we have been through a very trying emotional time and in my case I have received a lot of grace.

If a wife isn’t yet biologically ready to feel desire again, their intimacy will be depressing for both of them. Being in the midst of kids waking up early and breastfeeding really kills the passions that drove baby-making in the first place. A husband may have to learn this the hard way after making both he and his beloved miserable. Don’t judge us men too harshly! Pray for us.

Men should take up as much responsibility as they feasibly can, which really means giving reminders and helping to interpret the charts. We were useless with the temp charting, I said I would get her on a daily temp check schedule but I forgot the same as her. It is difficult with irregular child wakings, breastfeeding, sleeping in, work schedules etc.

I’m a little late responding. I hope your discussion this evening went well!

I have two kids, one 2.5 and a 6 week old. We use the Dioscese of Harrisburg STM - temps and vaginal mucus. I am VERY forgetful (add/adhd) and my husband’s schedule varies, so sometimes it worked out that he could rouse me enough to take my temp

I’m a little late responding. I hope your discussion this evening went well!

I have two kids, one 2.5 and a 6 week old. We use the Dioscese of Harrisburg STM - temps and vaginal mucus. I am VERY forgetful (add/adhd) and my husband’s schedule varies, so sometimes it worked out that he could rouse me to take my temp when he was getting ready in the AM… usually I was on my own though.

I have two BBT thermometers, one digital and one non-mercury glass thermometer. I keep my thermometers under my pillow, inside my pillowcase. I used the glass one a lot because it holds the temp until I shake it down and it’s silent. Digital is a backup. I also take my temps vaginally which helps if I’m especially groggy and happen to fall asleep mid temp taking (sorry TMI?).

I have the Ovuview Android app and it’s a lifesaver for recording my temps. Otherwise I would text them to my husband… I really NEVER got the hang of putting it on paper. Anyway, the date and temp are recorded in the text and we could just go back later and fill in the blanks on paper or in the app.

Other suggestions I’ve heard are taping your chart with a pencil or pen attached to a wall, cabinet, mirror etc. in your bathroom near the toilet so you can jot your observations down right there. Again, keeping an app capable device close by helps too!

Or how about a neon colored paper with “TAKE YOUR TEMP” taped to your ceiling or bedroom door or wall next to the lightswitch?

This stuff isn’t easy! The hardest part for me is just getting back in the habit of charting! And that is apart from deciphering postpartum and breastfeeding charts! Every couple is different and you guys may handle it differently each time you restart charting post-baby.

I don’t know you or your husband, but it sounds like you guys are both trying hard and struggling and getting frustrated…I mean how hard can it be, right??? It’s not rocket science (HAHAHA. might as well be :wink:

It helps to assume the best of each other and forgive immediately :slight_smile:
NFP is a beautiful thing and I think Satan works really hard to make it difficult and unpleasant.
Sorry for the super long post!

For the OP, would it be possible to switch to Marquette? I don’t use Marquette myself, but I am interested in it.

As I understand, you need to provide a urine sample, and it might not matter what time of day it is taken…

It needs to be concentrated, usually the first of the day, at least a 4 hour hold (like if you get up to feed the baby and pee at 3 am, you can take it at 7 am). You have a 3hr+/- from the time you “usually” test to test.

Your DH can read the results from the machine, either immediately or all day until the next testing window. You can chart online, and there is a forum of people discussing their charting/results.

It’s pretty nifty. I used it before my cycles returned and for my first cycle PP. I decided the sticks were a bit too pricey to continue once I started cycling, but our need to avoid is not so serious.

So, theoretically she could even test in the afternoon, as long as it’s been 4 hours? That sounds cool!

We have tried the Marquette method and I personally really liked it. As someone else mentioned, it’s easy to forget to take your temperature in the morning but it’s not nearly as easy to forget to use the bathroom! :slight_smile: We recently transitioned to a one-income lifestyle and are incredibly strapped, and the test strips were just costing too much money. Especially when we can track my cycle for free with the method we are already familiar with.

We talked again last night about it. There are so many stressful factors at play for us, particularly for my husband. He is the sole provider, his sales have been really poor the last several months, and he’s not really getting what he is needing in this regard at home. I’ve been trying to do things like we did when we were dating–leaving him little love notes, back rubs, things like that. He’s… he’s just really struggling right now. I wish I could make things easier for him.

But I digress.

I set an alarm on my phone to wake me up at 3:00 to take my temp in the mornings. It unfortunately didn’t work last night (I was up with the sick baby from midnight until about 4. Oye!) but it will work going forward. Thank you for all of the advice. It’s interesting to see the dynamics in other couples and to see how similar situations were or are handled. I have to keep it all in perspective, and continue to pray for my husband whom I love so very much.

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