Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

How does one cope with being married to a women they love deeply, but is unable to have sex due to a serious chronic injury?

Some background:
Been together for 14 years.
She was injured on the job 12 years ago, due to complications went from being hurt to being permanently disabled.
We have no kids.
She is unable to work, and receives a disability pension that took us 8 years of fighting to get and is not enough for her to live on.
I make enough for us to live comfortably and without need, however it requires I work 2 jobs (one is home-based, total I work about 50hrs per week)
She is unable to perform daily chores, cannot drive and cannot grocery shop.
I have to do all the cooking cleaning and home maintenance.
We had a healthy and fun sexlife for the first 6 months of being together, then it dwindled down to once every 6 weeks, now down to nothing.

This has been a long struggle for me, and up until May of this year she would not want to talk about it, and finally I had enough, broke down and let it all out. She explained that not only did she not have sexual feelings for me (or anyone else) but now that the pain in her life is so intense and all encompassing she doesn't even want to think about sex. We attempted to try new positions to reduce the discomfort, and I thought we had made progress, but unless I initiate she is not interested. She would rather not have sex as it causes too much pain (not the penetration, but the body movement).

In order for us to have sex with minimal pain for her requires I do not move, cannot be on the bed with her. As well she refuses oral sex both giving and receiving - despite my willingness to perform.

I am overcome with feelings that are not shared by my spouse. I find myself constantly looking at other women, and even went so far as creating a Craigslist add...thankfully there is only scammers on there or I may have done something I cannot take back.

I don't want to leave my wife, and she would be devastated if I was to have an affair.

Thanks for listening!
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

Part of me would say get a divorce and move on and find a women that wants and enjoys sex, regardless of her body.

Part of me thinks it would be really bad to just leave her and that you are doing a great job taking care of her.

Talk to her, ask about an open marriage.

I feel for yah, tricky situation.
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

I always thought marriage was in sickness and in health. It's sad how when it comes time to live up to the vows we take and the promises we make when something actually does happen we suddenly want to find a way to abandon or manipulate them.

I suggest some serious counseling for both of you. You for being a caregiver and husband and her for being a wife and dealing with debilitating injury but most importantly for your marriage.

Sometimes we get crap cards dealt to us in marriage and it's not what we planned but we marry to have that one person we thought will be by our side, hence our vows. This doesn't not sound like something she choose to happen to her. It has to be horrible to go from a productive person to virtually nothing. The mental anguish and physical pain has to take a toll on her also.
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

I agree that marriage counseling would be a good place to start. It's admirable that you are taking care of your wife but she needs to do whatever she can to take care of you too. She needs to at least make an attempt at meeting your needs.

Have you tried explaining that you really miss the affection, intimacy and physical enjoyment of a romantic relationship with her?
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

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Originally Posted by Zookeepertomany View Post
I always thought marriage was in sickness and in health. It's sad how when it comes time to live up to the vows we take and the promises we make when something actually does happen we suddenly want to find a way to abandon or manipulate them.

I suggest some serious counseling for both of you. You for being a caregiver and husband and her for being a wife and dealing with debilitating injury but most importantly for your marriage.

Sometimes we get crap cards dealt to us in marriage and it's not what we planned but we marry to have that one person we thought will be by our side, hence our vows. This doesn't not sound like something she choose to happen to her. It has to be horrible to go from a productive person to virtually nothing. The mental anguish and physical pain has to take a toll on her also.
So she can ignore the vows, and then when she's sick he's expected to live up to them. Sounds fair.
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

I'm saying she is most likely crushed mentally. We can only imagine what it is like for her to go from productive to nothing.

We have no idea what it is like from her side of the story. He says she can't even do daily chores. He also said she had tried different sexual positions. He states her pain "but now that the pain in her life is so intense and all encompassing she doesn't even want to think about sex". If pain is that intense who does want to think about sex, come on really.

It may not be that she is ignoring her vows but honestly can't from pain. It sounds like she has tried. How horrible it must be to have tried and tried and pain of such intensity surely will make you feel like a failure as a person and wife.

"In order for us to have sex with minimal pain for her requires I do not move, cannot be on the bed with her. As well she refuses oral sex both giving and receiving - despite my willingness to perform."

Great he is willing but if the slightest movement hurts her. Holding still during oral is not easy either. I don't think I could willing initiate something that will cause me all encompassing pain.

Again therapy for both of them. Find a way to help each other. Find some kind of pain management if possible. Find something she can do and do it well and keep adding.

Instead of wasting time on writing a craiglist ad he should of written why he loves his wife and the promises he made and kept reminding himself in sickness and in health for better or for worse.
We live in such a throw away society. He admits she tried. Being a caregiver is not easy either.

You divorce her if you can't do your vows but you don't cheat.
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

Doctor J....I take it she has chronic pain....what kind of pain management prograns are available in your area? Is she a candidate for a pain pump or an implant? There are lots of options out there....it sounds like she needs to work on getting her pain management under control....if your pain is to high it will take your will to enjoy anything away. I was injured 20 yrs ago at work and suffered an upper thoracic spinal cord injury. I will always have pain...but I have learned to live with that pain and still enjoy a very full life. Does she have a supprt group or therapy group she goes to for her pain management?
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:32 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

That sounds awful. Honestly, I would look for a discrete relationship on the side with someone in a similar situation. What your wife doesn't know won't hurt her. This is your life too. It sucks but it sounds like you have given up a lot. I don't normally believe in cheating but it sounds like things will not improve sexually and you can't in good conscience leave your wife either. What are you supposed to do? Give up your entire sexual life? That's even worse.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

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Originally Posted by Zookeepertomany View Post
I'm saying she is most likely crushed mentally. We can only imagine what it is like for her to go from productive to nothing.

We have no idea what it is like from her side of the story. He says she can't even do daily chores. He also said she had tried different sexual positions. He states her pain "but now that the pain in her life is so intense and all encompassing she doesn't even want to think about sex". If pain is that intense who does want to think about sex, come on really.

It may not be that she is ignoring her vows but honestly can't from pain. It sounds like she has tried. How horrible it must be to have tried and tried and pain of such intensity surely will make you feel like a failure as a person and wife.

"In order for us to have sex with minimal pain for her requires I do not move, cannot be on the bed with her. As well she refuses oral sex both giving and receiving - despite my willingness to perform."

Great he is willing but if the slightest movement hurts her. Holding still during oral is not easy either. I don't think I could willing initiate something that will cause me all encompassing pain.

Again therapy for both of them. Find a way to help each other. Find some kind of pain management if possible. Find something she can do and do it well and keep adding.

Instead of wasting time on writing a craiglist ad he should of written why he loves his wife and the promises he made and kept reminding himself in sickness and in health for better or for worse.
We live in such a throw away society. He admits she tried. Being a caregiver is not easy either.

You divorce her if you can't do your vows but you don't cheat.
If her sudden (12 years) lack of sex was actually due to her injury, I would agree with you. Seriously, I would.

However:

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Originally Posted by DoctorJ View Post
We had a healthy and fun sexlife for the first 6 months of being together, then it dwindled down to once every 6 weeks, now down to nothing.
This makes me think that things were already on a downhill spiral. It makes me wonder....let's say that a person is not getting along with their spouse. They've only been married a couple years. They're basically sexless and the HD spouse is on the verge of leaving and getting a divorce. Then, before the HD spouse can leave, the LD spouse gets injured. Before the injury, most would say the HD spouse has the moral high ground to leave because the LD spouse isn't keeping up their side of the bargain. But does the HD spouse suddenly lose the high ground because of the injury? Personally I don't think so. And in this case he stuck it out for a dozen torturous years after. But the fact is, she cut off the sex way before getting hurt.
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Old 07-26-2013, 06:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

Doctor J,

Aside from sex, is she affectionate with you? For me, that would be the real deal breaker. As long as I was at least getting physical contact and affection, then I could maybe survive without sex.

I really don't know what I would do in your situation. If I was your wife, and unable to physically have sex, and there was really no hope of recovery, then I would give my partner my blessing to have sex with others. I wouldn't want my spouse to be imprisoned in a sexless marriage for their entire life.

I am confused about something else though. She gets disability but you still have to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet? Either you work for minimum wage only (unlikely for someone who has to be at least 30-40 years old) or you have rather expensive tastes.

Last edited by Theseus; 07-26-2013 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

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Doctor J,

ummm no disability does NOT and I repeat DOES not work this way at all. How do I know? I was/am married to a person with kidney failure who was on dialysis for about six years. It gives you the bare minimum to pay the bills if that. I'm working almost full time and my husband is currently in the process of trying to get employed again. You also have to consider the cost of living, rent, etc etc. High taste? Really?Fat chance. And depending on the disability and the insurance there are those lovely medical bills, doctor visits and of course drug prescriptions.

I have a personal pet peeve and that is people throwing in their two scents and not only have no clue what your going through but also have the audacity to tell you how you should feel and how you should keep your vowels, it is so easy to sit up and tell someone oh yeah if that happened to me and all I could do is hug or have physical contact then that would be enough. I shake my head because that is not realistic and not to everyone. I'm so sorry your in this position to be husband, caretaker, doctor, etc etc you have to wear so many different hats it's maddening.

Two things that might help you for me speaking as spouse that hooked my husband up to a dialysis machine every night for about two years... You need a support system some outlet that shows support. I joined another forum specifically for those people are not only ill but also the caretakers can vent without being judged.
The marriage counselor might be an ok idea but if you can try to find someone that might specialize with couples that are dealing with a chronic illness or possibly a support group.

Another thing is you have to be honest with yourself and trust me I know this is hard because I have been there myself, sometimes you just want to throw in the towel and you feel so guilty, but the lack of sleep, lack of intimacy, can be a huge breaking point and trust me there is NOTHING wrong with that. Sometimes you can love someone and love is not enough and that is the hard truth. Better to talk out now if your unhappy and you can't find a middle ground and you cheat on her and you feel so much worse. I think she either needs to give you permission to have other lovers and if not you need to leave, if your not happy and she is unwilling to find some type of compromise. God Bless you. Trust me I have been there. This site is great but the one thing it is weak at is people having the understanding and support of what it is like to be a caregiver. There are a few here that know and understand but it is so much different where there is a community of people that can help be there for you. Please feel free to PM me. I would be happy to help or just listen to you unfiltered.

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Aside from sex, is she affectionate with you? For me, that would be the real deal breaker. As long as I was at least getting physical contact and affection, then I could maybe survive without sex.

I really don't know what I would do in your situation. If I was your wife, and unable to physically have sex, and there was really no hope of recovery, then I would give my partner my blessing to have sex with others. I wouldn't want my spouse to be imprisoned in a sexless marriage for their entire life.

I am confused about something else. She gets disability but you still have to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet? Either you work for minimum wage only (unlikely for someone who has to be at least 30-40 years old) or you have rather expensive tastes.
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Old 07-27-2013, 11:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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WOW! Thanks for the replies everyone, I will try and address the questions
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Originally Posted by justonelife View Post
Have you tried explaining that you really miss the affection, intimacy and physical enjoyment of a romantic relationship with her?
I have recently explained this. And she told me that she does think it is important, just is unable to see through the pain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zookeepertomany View Post
I'm saying she is most likely crushed mentally. We can only imagine what it is like for her to go from productive to nothing. ...
It may not be that she is ignoring her vows but honestly can't from pain. It sounds like she has tried. How horrible it must be to have tried and tried and pain of such intensity surely will make you feel like a failure as a person and wife.
...
Instead of wasting time on writing a craiglist ad he should of written why he loves his wife and the promises he made and kept reminding himself in sickness and in health for better or for worse.
We live in such a throw away society. He admits she tried. Being a caregiver is not easy either.

You divorce her if you can't do your vows but you don't cheat.
Thanks for your insight. You are correct, she feels horrible and worthless not being able contribute to either house work or relationship needs. She was a very active person (more so than me) before the injury and this has caused serious depression. She has tried therapy, and is just not committed to it (yet).
And your right about the CL add, that was a low point for me and woke me up to the severity of my problems with the situation.
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Originally Posted by mineforever View Post
Doctor J....I take it she has chronic pain....what kind of pain management prograns are available in your area? Is she a candidate for a pain pump or an implant? There are lots of options out there....it sounds like she needs to work on getting her pain management under control....if your pain is to high it will take your will to enjoy anything away. I was injured 20 yrs ago at work and suffered an upper thoracic spinal cord injury. I will always have pain...but I have learned to live with that pain and still enjoy a very full life. Does she have a supprt group or therapy group she goes to for her pain management?
Sorry to hear about your pain. Hers is nerve damage which has lead to significant pain, inability to lift anything and is severely affected by cold, wind and barometric pressure. She is on various medications, but they can do nothing for the root of the cause and also add many side-effects. We have no pain clinic near by and she is not supposed to do any massage, physio or other treatments. She is unfortunately adverse to the idea of therapy and is too shy to attend a support group. I am slowly working her into that idea as I know it could be beneficial to meet people in the same situation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WorkingOnMe View Post
This makes me think that things were already on a downhill spiral. It makes me wonder....let's say that a person is not getting along with their spouse. They've only been married a couple years. They're basically sexless and the HD spouse is on the verge of leaving and getting a divorce. Then, before the HD spouse can leave, the LD spouse gets injured. Before the injury, most would say the HD spouse has the moral high ground to leave because the LD spouse isn't keeping up their side of the bargain. But does the HD spouse suddenly lose the high ground because of the injury? Personally I don't think so. And in this case he stuck it out for a dozen torturous years after. But the fact is, she cut off the sex way before getting hurt.
WOW! you are so very correct! At this point it is so blurred as to when the pain began, and when the LD began. Was she not interested before the pain...or did this cause the LD? I myself have aways been co-dependant and low confidence so I am always worried that if the pain was gone...would she suddenly see that it was me, and not the pain? It is a constant battle in my head and it drives me nuts!

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Doctor J,
Aside from sex, is she affectionate with you? For me, that would be the real deal breaker. As long as I was at least getting physical contact and affection, then I could maybe survive without sex.
...
I am confused about something else though. She gets disability but you still have to work 2 jobs just to make ends meet? Either you work for minimum wage only (unlikely for someone who has to be at least 30-40 years old) or you have rather expensive tastes.
She is not affectionate for the past 2 years. She does say she loves me and it feels genuine, but she admitted the other night that when she shows me affection (hugging and cuddling) that she worries I will take it the wrong way, then I initiate sex, then get rejected (which leaves me in a slump).

As to the jobs / disablitity: She had to leave almost 8 years ago. Where we live there is a Work Place Insurance system that is supposed to cover you in the event of a work injury. This system is flawed and corrupt and we have been fighting for her benefits for over 12 years, and up until this January were receiving nothing. As she could not work I needed a second job to cover the bills. Now that she has disability I could quite my second job. However as her pension is not enough for her to live on (and still less than 50% of what she made before injury) I am putting as much money as possible in her future. It is very important for me that if anything was to happen to me (or us) that she would be looked after. As well it is a very real possibility that her condition will progress to the stage of needed full time care in the future. We had a recent visit with a financial adviser and if things go according to plan I should not have to work 2 jobs by the end of next year.

Thanks for reading everyone, it is a daily struggle, and just being able to talk about it makes it easier.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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So she can ignore the vows, and then when she's sick he's expected to live up to them. Sounds fair.
You know... a lot of posters here complain about a spouse who is both physically and mentally able to have sex but doesn't and we all rail against that spouse because yes, they are forsaking their vows.

But when it comes to someone who is disabled and physically in pain and can't have sex, yeah that's when "for better or worse" kicks in.

No, it's not fair. It sucks for the OP. But it is what it is. I'd like to think if I was in his wife's position that I would give my spouse permission to get his sexual needs filled elsewhere, but honestly I'm not sure I could do that.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:23 AM   #14 (permalink)
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You know... a lot of posters here complain about a spouse who is both physically and mentally able to have sex but doesn't and we all rail against that spouse because yes, they are forsaking their vows.

But when it comes to someone who is disabled and physically in pain and can't have sex, yeah that's when "for better or worse" kicks in.

No, it's not fair. It sucks for the OP. But it is what it is. I'd like to think if I was in his wife's position that I would give my spouse permission to get his sexual needs filled elsewhere, but honestly I'm not sure I could do that.
When I mentioned "ignoring her vows" I was talking about before she was injured.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:52 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Sexless Marriage due to Medical problem - how to cope?

I'm gonna call your wife on her Bull Sh!t! I'm no stranger to chronic pain, severe pain, debilitating pain. It doesn't prevent affection, it doesn't prevent sexual arousal, but does make climax tricky. I also say bull sh!t on lack of available alternatives, no physical therapy, no massage, no steroid injections, no nerve blocking agents? Again, there is a whole world of alternatives for those who wish to live a full life, but your wife is clearly content to allow her world to get smaller and smaller every day thinking her pain excuse lets her off the hook.

It Doesn't!

Describe to her what you want your life to be. Give her the choice of working toward your vision or backing out. She is not incapable, nor incapacitated. She has an intact spinal cord, with working limbs, and a functioning brain, which is all she needs to cope, heal, and live a full life! No more excuses! Get your ass up and into life or get your ass to a nursing home where they sit around and wait to die.
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