NaturalGuy and I finally have enough charting experience to use the Doering rule and "last-dry-day" rule, giving us about 12 days of abstinence instead of 21 - thank God! I have long cycles at 37 days, at the shortest. We're definitely still getting a handle on how to deal with this! If your charts are hard to decipher or give many many days of abstinence, it's worth considering your options, whether it's talking to a teacher, addressing nutritional problems that cause cycle irregularities, switching methods, or accepting increased risk of pregnancy in exchange for fewer days of abstinence. But even with great charts, most couples need to abstain for a little under two weeks and those two weeks can be tough!
We've been lucky enough to get some advice on handling those difficult two weeks. My favorite was the advice that abstaining in marriage is not the abstinence we knew before marriage, so no need to avoid making out and "heavy petting" - provided you can avoid going further of course! It's also a great time to plan dates - the exciting type we took early on in our relationship. Picnics, museums, hikes - all the things we normally postpone because there's no time :) And finally, it's a great time to put some extra effort into preparing to have children - whether that's figuring out how to save a little extra, or working on a home improvement project.
We're on day 1 of a new cycle today, so we're headed towards the fertile period. Hopefully it will be shorter and easier this month than past months!