Me: “So how has your chart been looking?”
Denise: “Well, something funny happened that wasn’t funny at the time.”
Me: “Really? What’s that?”
Denise: (holding up her chart) “Somebody ripped the chart, and it wasn’t me.”
I looked at her husband, Ben. He was smiling.
Ben: “At least I taped it back together!”
Denise and Ben wanted me to share this with you. They even wanted me to use to use their real names. Why? They thought there might be a lesson in this for one – or more – of you out there.
Let me tell you that I’ve never had one of my client husbands rip a chart in half until today. But it’s a good thing it happened because it was a form of communication that spoke to Denise and made her realize that something needed to change in their marriage.
This was the most fulfilling follow-up appointment I’ve ever had. And I absolutely love this couple because they are so real and so honest.
I’ve been meeting with Denise and Ben for over 6 months. They have been married for 16 years and have 4 beautiful children. Denise called me because she wanted to stop using the condom. She was looking for a natural way of avoiding pregnancy and knew deep down that barrier methods were interfering with the dynamic of their marriage. She often felt objectified, and sensed that something was missing – a dimension of intimacy that she and Ben could not reach while the condom was literally standing in the way of their truly connecting with each other. Ben was completely resistant to the idea of having Denise chart her cycles. He didn’t think it would work. He was stubborn. But so was she.
Attending the Introductory Session alone, Denise was determined to prove to her husband that she could learn the Creighton Model. Within a couple of follow-up appointments, she was a pro. Ben eventually came around and realized that CrMS was awesome. He even shared the information he learned with his teenage sons, telling them that there’s a MUCH better way to plan their families when they get married.
So why the ripped chart?
After a while, Ben got frustrated. He understood that there were going to be some days in Denise’s cycle when they would abstain from intercourse since they were using CrMS to avoid pregnancy. The problems arose when he felt rejected by his wife on the days he would try to be intimate with her. Denise, on the other hand, wanted more SPICE to prepare for the time they would share together. Ben thought he was doing enough to show how much he loved her, and Denise felt short-changed.
What in the world is “SPICE”?
It’s a multidimensional, whole-person view of sexuality that challenges us to discover and appreciate the true meaning of sex in the context of total respect and love. SPICE is an acronym for Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative/Communicative, and Emotional. The Creighton Model User Manual includes an entire chapter devoted to SPICE in order to teach our clients the importance of valuing their spouses and developing new patterns of sexual interaction – especially when they are choosing to avoid intercourse during days of fertility. We also give our couples a SPICE Index for each of them to fill out and discuss so they can communicate to one another the areas of strength and improvement as they use CrMS together.
When a couple using the Creighton Model is able to integrate SPICE into their marriage, they can freely exercise the principle of “selective intercourse” without resentment, frustration, and anger. But this was incredibly difficult for Denise and Ben because they had been contracepting for so long. Having never used any form of natural family planning, they were not used to periodic abstinence. And they sure never had anyone work with them to evaluate these different areas of their marriage in order to improve their overall sexual relationship.
What business is this of mine as their Practitioner?
If I am going to teach a couple how to use the Creighton Model effectively, it is my responsibility to help them overcome any struggles they might be having. Denise did not have trouble learning how to observe and chart, despite the fact that she had continuous mucus. She was able to identify her days of fertility and infertility very clearly. Ben and Denise asked me specifically to give them direction with SPICE because it was a huge issue for them.
So we spent a couple of hours talking, listening, and asking questions. I let Denise vent her qualms about her husband; then I let Ben have his say about what he needed from his wife. It was very healing and empowering for both of them, since neither of them could discuss this topic without fighting at home. I broke down each area of SPICE and asked each of them to list 1-2 things that they would like the other to do for them. That would give them a total of 10 options to choose from. Ben was to keep Denise’s list and work on fulfilling at least one of her needs before the next follow-up appointment, and Denise was to do the same for Ben.
Here’s what they came up with.
Obviously, much of Denise and Ben’s SPICE comes from their religion and family life. And that’s the beauty of it! It’s different for each couple, springing from their unique, personal, loving relationship. I had a lot of fun doing this with them. They both left optimistic and very relieved.
I went home incredibly excited for Denise and Ben because I knew this was only going to get better. I mean, like Ben said, at least he taped the chart back together. That was a pretty powerful statement.
To be continued… because I know you’re going to want to find out what happens to them…
(as originally posted on 1FLESH.ORG)