Natural Family Planning and Communication


Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of marital breakdown. For the NFP-using couple, communication is essential. Procrastination isn’t an option. The NFP couple discusses whether or not they will be avoiding or planning pregnancy. In order to be successful at this, it’s necessary to discuss the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. My husband has often said, “If you can talk about your wife’s cervical mucus, you can discuss anything.”

To briefly review how NFP works: husband and wife chart the wife’s signs of fertility and infertility. (Note: the man is fertile every day of his post-pubescent life, assuming there are no health difficulties). The couple then determines the start and end of the fertile time (we call it Phase II). If they are avoiding pregnancy, they abstain in the fertile time. If they are planning a pregnancy, they engage in relations during this time. Although it sounds simplistic, there are various scenarios, conditions and more complicated issues that arise, so formal NFP classes (either live or online) are recommended.

One of the keys to each couple’s success in using NFP is effective communication. NFP works best when the couple, together, study and observe the woman’s signs of fertility and infertility. Ideally, each month, the NFP couple discusses whether they will be avoiding a pregnancy or achieving a pregnancy. Because NFP can be used both to plan and to avoid, it’s a good idea to have this conversation every month, even if the couple has decided that they will be avoiding pregnancy for a year or more. When internal shifts in emotional attitude are brought to the surface, the couple can unite in their efforts to carry out their plans regarding abstinence.

In over 30 years of using NFP, we have found that frequently one of us was more open to pregnancy and the other still wanted to avoid it for the time being. Sometimes our monthly conversations were long and complicated; other times, short. The important point is that these types of dialogues are meant to take place well beforehand and not in the middle of the marital embrace.

When the NFP couple is discussing intimate topics such as mucus and other fertility signs, it enhances their marital and sexual life, thereby increasing intimacy. This sort of communication should also continue when the couple is postpartum (after having a baby) and in post-menopause (after menopause).

When they are avoiding pregnancy, abstinence can be difficult and challenging. Being able to talk to your spouse and know that you are not alone in the struggles and challenges brings a couple together in love. NFP demands the kind of intimate and deep conversation that a married couple needs to enhance their marriage. Perhaps this is why NFP couples have a lower divorce rate.

For more information on NFP:


About Author

Ellen Gable Hrkach is a freelance writer and award-winning author of three novels. Her new book is entitled "Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship" and it's available on and at the book's website She and her husband are certified NFP teachers for the Couple to Couple League and they create a Catholic cartoon called "Family Life" for Family Foundations Magazine.

  • Terri K

    I’m disappointed that the Marquette Method isn’t referenced here. It is the method my husband and I use and we love it. Taking basal body temp daily proved very difficult for us and my mucus sign has always been ambiguous. Marquette Method uses a protocol built around the Clearblue Fertility Monitor, with rules that are very similar to the other methods we tried. Marquette Method directly measures hormone levels via urine tests versus observations of secondary indicators of changes in hormonal levels (basal body temp, mucus sign, cervical position). It removes a lot of potential for error or confusion. Marquette Method has been a godsend for us. It costs more than the other methods because it requires the monitor and test strips, and the teachers are hard to find (we self-taught with their website), but it’s definitely worth adding to resource lists for NFP.

    • GuitarGramma

      Wow, Terri. I’ve never heard of the Marquette Method. Thank you for posting this. While I am into my “grandparenting” years, I have many younger friends who will be interested in hearing about this. Thank you for this post!

    • Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

      Thank you. That is very helpful information.

  • NFP is a great method of family planning, but couples who think of it as JUST a method of family planning probably aren’t going to have a lot of success with it.

    NFP requires the couples to learn how to communicate. It requires them to learn how to be intimate without intercourse. It requires them to have these discussions. It requires self-control and self-discipline, and that can be difficult.

    Communication, self-discipline, and discernment are essential to be able to use NFP successfully.