Sex in Health and Sickness

What do you do when long-term sickness or injury makes sex difficult, or impossible, or leaves one spouse with no desire for sex?

Doctor © Idea go |

I see several relevant points here:

  • Our responsibility to have sex with our spouse has nothing to do with our desire.
  • Being unwilling or unable does not change our spouse’s needs and desires.
  • Expecting something our spouse can’t do, or expecting something that will result in pain for them, is wrong.
  • Sexual intimacy is important for a marriage.
  • Sex means, or should mean, a great deal more than intercourse.

If you and your spouse both accept the points above, you should be able to arrive at a working solution if you can talk openly about sex. If one of you rejects one or more of those points, it will become a roadblock. I know no way to prove any of these, especially to someone who doesn’t want them to be true. The best approach calm conversations. Don’t argue until your spouse agrees or leaves in anger, nudge the issue along and give her time to think and pray about the issues. Being able to communicate about sex is a common problem, and can be a significant roadblock. Sex is important to marriage, so work past your difficulties discussing it. Choice of words and tone can make discussing sex easier or more difficult, so pay attention to these. Whatever language is most comfortable is fine, as long as you both understand what euphemisms mean.

If you get past the roadblocks, it’s time to discuss what can and can’t be done sexually. An act of sex need not result in orgasm for both of you if one of you is unable or doesn’t feel like it. If pain or other problems makes prolonged intercourse difficult but you both want to have intercourse, do it for a short time then move to other activities. Experiment with different potions, and make use of pillows for comfort or to change positions slightly. Don’t think a lack of erection means no sexual desire, and realise that an unerect penis can be stimulated to orgasm by hand, mouth, or vibrator (more on dealing with erection problems). If nothing else is possible, you can lie together and snuggle and talk while the one who feels desire self stimulates to climax. Even better, their partner can start the process, or wait until climax is close and finish it.

A few other thoughts:

  • Orgasm can provide significant pain relief.
  • Orgasm is a natural sleep aid.
  • Some people with chronic illness or disability find it very fulfilling to satisfy their spouse sexually. Don’t assume it’s loving to stop asking or to say no to an offer. Your spouse may need to be sexual even if they don’t climax or find what they do a bit uncomfortable.

One final word: If you’re the one who’s ill or disabled, please don’t ignore the fact your wife still has a need to be intimate with you, and still has sexual urges. Put your pride, shame, fear, and whatever else aside and do all you can to be there for her in every way possible. She needs to talk, she needs non-sexual touch, and she needs sex in any way you can provide it for her. 

A link about this for women: Sheila over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum posted When Health Problems Make Intercourse Impossible a couple of days ago – might be a good place to start this discussion with your wife.

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