Finding Your Sexy Together; Caregivers and Their Partners
Finding Your Sexy Together; Caregivers and Their Partners By Barby Ingle
Before I was able to commit to my wife I had to decide if spending my life with someone who may deteriorate physically to the point of total need was something that I could manage. Not only did I question if I was able to handle the emotional and physical situation but if I could keep the intimacy needs satisfied as well. One of the toughest challenges between a healthy couple is intimacy. Add to that one or both of the partners has a chronic pain condition. The challenges of intimacy double unless you give it attention and cultivate the relationship. Work on those activities that make your partner feel loved and appreciated to keep the love and intimacy between the two of you. Express your attraction and appreciation to the other person. Affections and intimacy don’t always have to equal sex either. Remember sexy is an attitude, thought process and feeling that everyone has the ability to obtain.
Take the time to talk about the illness and challenges but also keep other aspects of importance to each other in focus. If life is all about the illness, that is too much. If it is never discussed, that is not enough. Finding that middle ground will help keep the stress of the illness lowered.
Communication and setting realistic expectations upfront can help a couple cultivate a healthy loving relationship. Being able to effectively communicate helps you work out problems, keeping resentment manageable and keeping you strong as a couple when changes are needed. Simply put, pain changes relationships. If this change is not addressed the bond breaks. The intimate bond doesn’t have to end because of the pain. Being able to effectively communicate helps you work out problems, keeping resentment manageable and keeping you strong as a couple when changes are needed. Having a common goal to keep your communication strong will assist in keeping the love strong.
If you haven’t kept the communication open for a while, focus on new goals. Work to create new roles and redefine your relationship to a point that is beneficial for you. It is also important to keep in mind that some of the medications to combat the depression, stress, and anxiety can also cause a lack of desire, vaginal dryness, or erectile dysfunction. Being conscious that these side effects may occur, you can address them easier if you are open about it. It may not be you, it may be your medication. Many times if the person in pain recognizes that this is the case, they can give themselves time to get into the petting and touching with their partner. They end up with the great benefits of the experience as well. If you think that your sex drive is not normal due to a side effect of a medication you are taking, it is important to speak to your doctor about it.
The more you discuss your concerns and desires the easier it becomes to please each other. Do not let embarrassment be a barrier. If you don’t become comfortable stating your feelings in a manner that is loving and supportive it gets harder to do over time. To get past the worries of pain start by touching one another. Giving each other a massage just to connect your bodies physically. Before you begin, set the mood to be relaxing and romantic. You can use music, lighting, and candles. Take your time and use your imagination to find positions that produce less pain. It does take time to figure out, but the more you practice, the better it becomes and the more fun it is for both of you.
In the beginning as you are getting comfortable and relearning each other in a romantic way, it doesn’t have to lead to actual sex. Let your partner know you are attracted to them and appreciate all that they do to make your life better. It shows them you are open to their affection and willing to give them attention. Keep a healthy lifestyle – don’t just consider what you are eating, drinking, smoking, or if you are using good hygiene. Be sure to add intimacy and romance into your healthy living practices. It is easy it is to forget this aspect with so much else to deal with on a day filled with chronic pain issues.
My top tools for when we need to refocus and connect on an intimate level are simple if you try. Start by being in such good communication that when you have a challenge or situation you want to call your partner first. It feels good knowing that they will be there for you when you call. It shows their commitment is to you and your relationship, over any other relationships the two of you have. Next, set a few goals at a time for intimacy. Start with something like ‘we will have sex at least 1 time every X days’. For my wife having a day to look forward to can be exciting in itself. Remember to touch each other. Intimacy incudes holding hands, sitting next to each other to watch TV, etc. I have found that there are fewer disagreements when we are more affectionate with each other even when it is not a physically sexual moment. Have you noticed, it is harder to argue with someone who is holding your hand? Just touching in a kind way can help your partner know that you are on the same side and you support them. Finally, if there is a consistent issue coming up between you two or your partner is getting frustrated easily, take the time to be proactive. Just like we take the time to stop and ask our providers if the plan we are on is still the correct path. You should take as much stock in your relationship.
Improving your intimate life and learning to connect is like learning a new language, even if you were once very close. The more you practice the more confidence you build. Everything you do is awkward at first and then gets easier to the point of full comfort between you and your partner. It just takes time, love, respect, and encouragement. Fairytales don’t happen without effort. I challenge you to create your own fairytale.
Finding your confidence – actions for people in pain:
- Groom yourself daily
- Keep your sense of humor
- Make your partner feel needed
- Stay in shape as best you can
- Tell yourself that you are sexy (practice until its natural)
- Understand your condition and help your partner understand what you are challenged with and develop ways to overcome it
Finding your confidence – actions to help your partner feel wanted:
- A simple touch brings out their confidence
- Always tell them they are the best at … well, what they are best at
- Find them sexy: even if you aren’t finding them sexy at the moment, but you love them pretend you do find them sexy in the moment
- Flirt with them
- Give them the look that says I want you like never before because each time it’s better and better with our continued love
- Praise and thank them for their accomplishments (even if that days accomplishments are small)
- Show them you want them
Barby Ingle lives with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), migralepsy and endometriosis. Barby is a chronic pain educator, patient advocate, and president of the International Pain Foundation . She is also a motivational speaker and best-selling author on pain topics.