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Benefits for communication,
understanding, self-mastery

Marital dynamics of using NFP

Coping with abstinence
Coping With Abstinence
By Richard J. Fehring, PhD, RN

All natural methods of family planning require periods of abstinence from genital intercourse and genital contact for couples who are avoiding pregnancy. Periodic abstinence also occurs naturally throughout a couple's life, such as, during illness, business trips or mood swings. Couples often feel challenged by the experience of having to abstain from genital activity and also feel there can be a lack of spontaneity in their sexual life.  However, although couples who use natural methods to avoid pregnancy have to periodically abstain from genital activity, they never have to abstain from a holistic sexuality. Most of human sexuality occurs from the giving and receiving as males and females from the mind and heart. A holistic sexual expression includes spiritual, physical, intellectual, communicative and the emotional dimensions.

Far from harming a marital relationship, periodic abstinence actually engenders upon couples a number of benefits including:

Respect of partner
Favor attention to partner
Role model for children
Sexual satisfaction

Many couples experience what they call the "honey moon" effect, in that sexual expression remains new and exciting when they practice periodic abstinence. Furthermore, planned sexual encounters often bring more satisfaction than uncontrolled "in the heat of passion" responses.

Periodic abstinence can also engender spiritual benefits. The time of abstinence can be a quiet time without sexual tension (expectations). A quiet time to listen to each other and to God. A Holy time in which to decide whether to create new sons and daughters (new images of God).

Experienced couple users of NFP best cope with PA by planning ahead for the fertile time. Users of NFP learn to follow the patterns of their cycles and are able to interpret and predict the rhythms of their fertile and infertile times. Couples who best cope with PA during the fertile time plan ahead to express their sexuality in a non-genital fashion.

Examples of non-genital behaviors are as follows:

SPIRITUAL  - praying together
PHYSICAL -  hugging/holding hands
INTELLECTUAL - reading together
COMMUNICATIVE -  discussing children
EMOTIONAL - sharing feelings

For further ideas on how to cope with periodic abstinence, make an appointment with your certified Natural Family Planning teacher.


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