Last week I started a 2-part series, where I am sharing our journey with birth control and contraceptives.
I talked about why couples have a choice when it comes to the “when” of starting a family, the various birth control options available and what my husband and I use.
I also shared two of the five things I have learned in eight years of marriage about birth control and contraceptives. If you missed the post, make sure you read it here
Today we pick up at #3 of the five things I have learned about contraceptives and birth control;
3. People might have an opinion.
Birth control is one of those areas where things can heat up pretty fast; people feel strongly about their methods they forget others have a right to their own.
While it’s true some birth control methods have more side effects than others; starting an argument about it won’t win over any hearts. Trying to make someone feel un-spiritual isn’t a good plan either.
It’s important to remember that every couple has a story, and the story influences the choices they make. It is rash to draw conclusions and prescribe remedies based on our view from the outside.
It is absolutely okay to share facts and information and your personal experience. However, we need to appreciate that other couples have the same access to God we have; He can lead them equally.
It took a long time for my husband and me to change our method of birth control.
In that time, I appreciated women who shared truth and personal experiences with respect and love. I welcomed candor but mostly when it was wrapped with understanding and respect for where I am coming from.
I appreciated it when they understood that every woman has a story and as long as she keeps seeking God, she would find Him.
Share your views yes, if you have permission, but do so with respect, recognizing that there’s a reason a couple chose their method.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes couples have differing opinions; one person may be leaning in one direction while the other has serious reservations.
If you are invited/stumble into that discussion, temper your words, so you don’t sow division into that marriage.
4. Wives carry the burden, but they must share it
When it comes to a couple’s fertility, the woman is much closer to the action than the man.
I am the one who felt strongly about changing our method of birth control. As I did my research and we started talking, I realized my husband’s level of interest was much lower than mine.
He was curious, yes, but not nearly as interested or into the details as I was.
I struggled with that.
And I was right about him not feeling me; he was not feeling my mood swings and cravings and popping the pill every night.
As wives, it is natural to feel frustrated when our husbands fail to extend the support we hope for.
But most husbands don’t “get” periods and hormones. It has nothing to do with how much they love us, it’s just that they don’t menstruate or have changing hormones through the month; they are not women!
It is, therefore, our responsibility to bridge that gap through supplying the information he needs so we can get on the same page as a couple. And stay on the same page.
So instead of feeling annoyed about his “roughness” in bed (which you have no problem with other times), why not take the time to explain PMS – PreMenstrual Syndrome and how your breasts are a lot more sensitive right before and during your periods?
Instead of feeling frustrated that he didn’t keep his promise to fix dinner, tell him why you are feeling a little more let down because you are feeling exhausted.
These simple discussions provide an opportunity for your husband to serve you and walk with you; in that way, you also nurture your one-flesh-ness
My husband does not track my cycle symptoms ( I tried adding him to my App, but he does not understand all the woman speak) and it’s up to me to keep him in the loop. He tries to remember but again, he doesn’t have the App, I do.
Some things he will pick up for himself – like he says my breath becomes a bit metallic/garlic-y nearer my periods (sorry TMI!)
To tie things up – Don’t be upset if your spouse doesn’t exhibit the same level of urgency or clarity as you, especially if you want to change your method of birth control.
If fertility and birth control is not part of your normal marriage discussions, break him in.
5. You can’t tell him what’s going on if you don’t know
You can’t keep your husband in the loop if you are not in the loop yourself.
I’ve been tracking my periods most of my adult life. I used to use a simple calendar method. When we started the pill, I stopped using calendars because my periods were like clockwork.
Once we switched from the pill to natural, I downloaded a periods and fertility tracking phone App called Glow.
So this is what I do and how my month looks like;
I track my fertility signs with a goal of identifying two things
- My fertile window – so we can use condoms.
- My periods – because I don’t want to be caught off guard
The fabulous thing about using a phone App is that it provides predictions based on the information I have provided. I don’t have to put it all together myself; I check my signs, update the App, and it puts the information together for me.
Obviously, it is not always 100 percent accurate, since it’s a machine and my periods are irregular, but it is always pretty close.
The first day of periods is the first day of the cycle; that is when I start tracking. By tracking I mean updating info on the App, which has different options, depending on the type of birth control (if at all) you are using.
To be honest, I don’t utilize all the App’s functions and tools #becausedatamining lol. I just input what I consider essential for the proper functioning of the App.
Different family planning methods track different symptoms or a combination of symptoms, e.g., cervical mucus, temperature, physical symptoms e.t.c.
Typically I track my cervical mucus and physical signs (nausea, tiredness, headache, lower abdomen pain, irritation)
There are also calendar methods, where all you do is count your days. So depending on the type of method you use, some Apps provide options where you can update your particular signs, and it provides the charts and predictions at a glance.
So let us look at the cycle itself.
Typically ovulation takes place in the middle of a woman’s cycle. That means for a regular 28-day cycle; ovulation will occur on the 14th day of the cycle.
If you are not a regular girl (I am not), that doesn’t help at all. That is why I love the idea of the “fertile window.”
Pregnancy is technically only possible during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle and reflect the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the ovum (24 hours). source
If your periods are regular, you simply count your days, and you are all set! Just abstain from intimacy (or use backup method) 5 days before ovulation and on your ovulation day.
However, if your cycles are irregular, you need a little more smarts. And this is where correct use of your natural family planning method comes into play!
I found this neat website which can help you predict your ovulation day and fertile window, complete with a little chart! All you have to do is insert the length of your cycle.
How to calculate the length of a cycle; the first day of your period is the first day of your cycle. If your periods start today, that is the first day of your cycle, and you count that day till the first day of your next cycle. If December 5th was the first day of your cycle and your next period starts on January 2nd – your cycle length is 28 days.
Again, these are predictions meant to give you an idea; you have to listen to your body, record other symptoms like temperature or cervical mucus. And use back-up when you are really close!
Tying it up – You can’t keep your husband in the loop if you don’t know what is going on. Personal education is important for every form of birth control and contraception, not just natural.
In this series, I focused on more natural methods because that is what we use, but no regardless of you methods, try and educate yourself and then bring your husband in.
When you are ready to stop birth control, and your spouse isn’t (or vice versa)
Finally a question some couples wrestle with; what happens when one person is ready to stop using birth control and start a family and the other isn’t?
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if one person is ready to have children and the other is not, then that couple is not ready to have kids yet.
I agree there are many layers to that discussion, but I think that is the bottom line. But what is the spouse who wants to move to the next level do?
– Realize that fussing or having a breakdown will not inspire the connection and agreement you want.
–Recognize that God has (much better) access to your spouse’s heart. If God is speaking to you, pray, and then trust that He will speak to your spouse as well.
– Try and get into your spouse’s world. Genuinely seek to understand their reasons. Realize that it’s okay to feel disappointed, especially if you had agreed on time frames.
But also accept that circumstances change; people change their minds, situations outside their control influence their thinking, previously-unknown worries or hurts come to the surface. You cannot hurry these things along; ask for the grace to wait.
Remember children are a gift, God holds your seasons, not your husband. If children are part of your legacy, and He’s given you the desire, He will bless you in His time, style and season.
And that’s our story, and the lessons I have learned about contraceptives and birth control in the last eight years. I hope the 2-part series has been helpful! I have enjoyed writing it, even with all the TMI : )
I loved the discussion on the blog last week, be sure to check out the comments if you have a minute! I would love to hear your thoughts about today’s post; anything you can add? What has been your experience with contraceptives and birth control/family planning? What method are you using and how did you decide on it? Lets talk on the blog!