Social Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

How long should a marriage go sexless?

Asked by KNOWITALL (14645 points ) August 27th, 2012

My husband is ill and has been on and off for 8 years. I’m getting lonely physically, but I love him and don’t want to be a cheater. What should I do?

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12 Answers

ninja_man's avatar

There are a number of devices you and your husband could employ that would gratify urges, provide a chance for intimacy, and would not be too strenuous (I presume).

anatidaephobiac's avatar

What he said ^^

jca's avatar

He’s ill and can’t do anything for you at all, or he’s ill and can’t get an erection? If it’s just that he can’t get an erection, he still has fingers and a tongue, IMHO.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I want to be very clear, that I would never cheat, and I don’t think anyone else should cheat either. However…

Here is a Youtube video for you to consider.

gailcalled's avatar

The question, poignant as it is, is about your marriage alone and not “a marriage.”

Can you have some physical contact such as spooning or cuddling? Does he feel well enough to hold your hands or caress you a little bit?

Are you comfortable enough with him to have him watch while you pleasure yourself? Can he help in any way?

LuckyGuy's avatar

First let me say, I am sorry for your loss. Unless they are going through it, most people don’t realize that sex in a relationship is like air – It gets really important when you can’t get any.

We cannot answer your question without KnowingItAll, and this is not the right venue to do that. (PM is available for that.)
You need to answer some questions first:
Is this temporary or permanent?
Did he perform and enjoy sex before?
Does he have the desire but not the capability?
Does he have the capability but not the desire?
Did you change too?

There are treatments, and medications that can fix virtually anything. But you both will have to work on it together. this is not something one person fixes alone.
Done right, the results can be pure magic.

JLeslie's avatar

For years and years couples can go without. I saw someone on Oprah who did studies showing there are indeed happy sexless couples, and there doesn’t have to be some sort of hidden problem with the relationship causing the sexlessness. Add illness, and that is a whole other set of circumstances that many couples can and do adjust to.

It really has to do with the two people, and no one else’s opinions. I understand the loss as @LuckyGuy put it. Being robbed of sexual intimacy because of illness is a cruel situation. Some people lose interest in sex without illness, but some want to be sexual and illness prevents it. I know people say other things can be done, like fingers and devices, but it simply is not the same, especially when alternate methods are being used because actual sex is difficult. Moreover, when one person cannot have sex, and they are constantly doing for the other, it begins to feel like a huge chore. It can be a depressing chore at that. Even if the sick person enjoys the other having their pleasure, the sick person also has to be there deprived of what they might desperately want too. People understand when infertile people get saddened by seeing their friends have babies; being in a room having to please someone while you can’t, you can’t because life sucks and is unfair; begins to wear on a person. It also makes the ill partner feel inadequate, guilty, and many other emotions.

For me, psychologically, it seems it has been much harder for me (I am the sick one) than my husband. I am more desperate, I miss it more, I feel the loss more intensely. My husband seems to accept it better as life can hand you crappy situations. I think it is different for everyone this type of situation.

I do agree think physical cntact is extremely important, we know it affects blood pressure, happiness, lowers stress, and adults tend to get their physical contact needs fufilled through sex. My husband and I even when I am not feeling well for extended periods still are very physically close. We are always touching, holding hands, spooning, leaning on each other etc. If I didn’t have that I would go insane.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Due to the nature of the illness he can’t be excited right now (emotionally or physically), I don’t even want to discuss it with him because of the stress it could cause him. His mental state is more fragile now, too, because of some new meds that affect mood/ rage, etc… so I’m loathe to even bring up the situation as I have before.

He is physically fully functional as am I, we’ve been together 13 years.

I’m just longing for my healthy husband back and it makes me feel like a complete jerk for this to even be an issue for me (crying) but it is. I have always been a very sexual person and am paying all the bills, handling all his meds, only one working/ driving, I’m just extremely stressed and possibly am over-reacting to our situation.

Family would tell me to suppress, be a good wife and keep soldiering on alone as I have been. I will try to investigate more options, thanks all.

@JLeslie, thank you, that helped a lot.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL You’re welcome.

Don’t feel like a jerk. It’s a big deal. You both are going through an extremely difficult time. This whole mess with my illness affecting my sexual life greatly impacts my identity. I feel like the person my husband lives with is not the real wife I know I am inside, in my mind. It’s really very complicated.

When it is for a few weeks or months it’s just bump in the road, but when it seems like sex will not be part of the relationship for a very long time, it is like dealing with a chronic illness in and of itself. People have told me that chronically ill patients usually take around 3 months to realize their life might be permanently different, or different for a very long time. It is depressing and an adjustment in identity. A person now has become a diabetic or stricken with MS or blind and that new state of being has all sorts of emotions wound up with the diagnosis. Not being able to have sex, when previously being sexual and sexy felt good and exciting is similar in my opinion. Another example is a pianist losing function in their hand or an ice skater having trouble with their legs.

For women it means fitting into the stereotype that once married your wife stops wanting sex, and for men it means dealing with sex being a very big part of what makes men feel strong I think. I don’t really know exactly how men think about it.

Therapy might help? Talk to someone about your frustrations. Eventually you might have your husband join you in therapy and he can tell you his feelings about it too. It’s a shared loss. Feeling emotionally connected on it might help? I’m no expert though. I don’t have a perfect solution, I wish I did. I don’t feel my husband and I are in sync on the topic. He deals with it differently than I do.

gailcalled's avatar

@KNOWITALL : Tell the family to go stuff themselves. Or come and lend you a hand. And stop apologizing. You are not over-reacting. You feel what you feel and that is legitimate.

(Or let us tell the family to go stuff themselves.)

And as @lLuckyguy asked, is your husband’s situation temporary or permanent or unclear?

@JLeslie‘s suggestion fo therapy is a wonderful idea. It gives you a safe place to vent without busybodies giving you unkind and unhelpful advice.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I wanted to mention one more thing. When we were younger my husband was kind of in the mindset that we are the only young couple going through something like this. I told him everyone who looks at us sees a young happy couple who seem very affectionate and connected, who joke around about sex just like the next guy. The same as within all the couples he looks at every day and assumes everything is “normal” for them and perfect, there are many who have troubles. You are not alone. I felt like my husband idealizing other people’s relationships worked against him.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gailcalled – I’m not sure if the situation is temporary, I hope it is. His health has been declining throughout our marriage, 3 bouts of kidney stones, 3 knee surgeries, now seizures for an unknown reason. He’s only 36 yrs old so it’s tough.

His oldest brother is the only person I’ve told about my frustrations after we three had a very frank & private conversation a few weeks ago, the next day is when my husband had another seizure. Needless to say, I’m hesitant to say anything again.

Therapy does sound nice but my insurance doesn’t cover it and with him not working it’s really not feasible financially. Religious therapy is free but I’m not interested as I know what our local pastors would say, just like the family, repress -supress and soldier on.

@JLeslie – Yes, everyone thinks we’re not struggling as much as we are, I tend to be pretty private about my problems and I’m a control freak. I mean he knows it’s tough but he’s dealing with his health and keeping his spirits up, doctors, etc… Thank you all.

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