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Warning, this is long, but I needed to write. I never seem to hear talk of that 800 pound gorilla in the room. Most conversation is about caring for moms and dads/the elderly with dementia/Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc, issues which I also had to deal with. Dad struggled with Alzheimer’s for 10 years before he passed. What a nightmare that was. I can’t, nor can anyone imagine what he went through. During that time, mom was diagnosed with cancer, she passed away some months after dad. My sister had came up from San Diego and stayed with mom during her last few months. Thank god I have the sister that I do, it was so stressful a time. The more stories I hear from people about how family issues have been, the more blessed I think my sister and I are for the relationship we have. Turned out that it was the time my sister and brother in law were also closing their business, and I was going to be a part of that. I was a full time caregiver for my wife and arranged for my wife’s sister and mother, and a caregiver to work out times they could be there during this time, when I wasn’t. I would shop and prepare days of food for them when I was home for a couple days each week. So, I was traveling the 45+ minutes in LA traffic, (which I really hate) from my house to mom's place. I’d help my sister and mom as much as I could. Then I’d drive to San Diego and help with the closing of the business. Then back to my wife. This was a stressful triangle of travel that couldn’t be helped and I forget how long it went on for. I know it was months. I couldn’t be as involved in mom's personal hygiene issues as I was with my wife, so my sis did that along with organizing everything mom needed. We took turns sleeping with mom while I was there. The gorilla in the room for me is the following. I’m married. My wife is going on 4 years now in assistive care due to MS. The quadriplegia, cognitive issues (very dementia like) and everything that goes along with it, like bowel issues, severe osteoporosis, eating and drinking disorders, infections etc. I’ve been her full time caregiver since 1998. She was diagnosed 1983, 3 years after we were married in 1980. We weren’t old then, I was 29, my wife was 30. Now we’re early 60’s. What comes after this? I hate being alone. It’s depressing, and lonely. My time was so occupied with caregiving for her, and now find that I have no motivation or life of my own doing. Our 29 year old daughter, along with family and friends, wants me to get out and have a female friend for the companionship and purpose in life after caregiving. Someone to be intimate with, not only sexually, but more importantly, emotionally. I too want this. But I can’t help but think about this in depth. I’m not going to divorce my wife. It’s just not a thought for me. She’s lost so much and I know how devastating divorce would be to her, and I won’t do that to her. Yet how does a relationship at this age manage to work, within this issue? I meet women, but in the sense I describe, they really can’t relate to me nor I to them. Even the occasional female acquaintance will say, why don’t you have a girlfriend? Well what woman is willing to be in a relationship under such circumstances? Certainly not the one in front of me making that statement. The rules we all grew up with work for most, but not for me, or the very few who are in a similar situation. We have all thought that the rules of companionship are all encompassing by way of social standards. Not so anymore for me, and it’s awkward. I bristle at the self righteous who have no clue whatsoever when they say how wrong it is to have a relationship outside of marriage. Or someone without the experiences, who says, I don’t see a problem...just get out there. Don’t get me wrong, circumstances change and I’m aware of that. Things happen that are outside the scope of what society sees as the norm. I don’t feel those, norms, always apply. So what do we do? The only people who can truly relate and truly understand are those who have gone through similar circumstances. I don’t want to openly have constant conversation of just caregiving issues and problems, and I don’t think that would be the issue. It’s just knowing where we’ve been, what we’ve been through and are going through. Some don’t see it, that’s ok for them, but others do. Where are these people? Are we all hidden away in our homes feeling trapped and miserable after giving ourselves to the care we have given, waiting, for what? A knock on our door? I’m a caring healthy person who wants a life. I want to join in the promise of not having to live alone anymore. It’s not that I was alone all those years with my wife, and mother in law who had come to live with us after her husband passed away. Although I cared for her as well for about 16 years, she tried to help as she could. A sweet elderly woman with mild dementia. Although I didn’t like what I was doing, I loved my family. It’s just that I’ve been lonely all these years and want to be happy. I don’t want to try to twist myself away from the happy I want, so I can accept the lonely I no longer want. It’s enough to know that the happy life my wife and I had is long gone and won’t come back. The woman I married is lost and the years between then and now are in the rear view mirror and it has been a tough journey for us both. The question is in my writing. I don’t want to live a lonely life without a companion to go through it with and have the opportunity to be happy. I’m trying to find out how to do something about this. I don’t have a road map for it. Where do I go?

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Good ideas from many. I am certainly not in your situation, however having been through a not so nice divorce (he continued to make my existence somewhat miserable by telling lies, trying to subvert the children, refusing to pay, etc....) I can relate to some of your concern.

Where this is leading to is your concern about discussing your wife and care-giving with a new person or people you meet. Most certainly there are people who don't want to hear anything at all. There are others who will listen and have sympathy, but only for so long. They tire of hearing about it and will likely drift away. The best/most likely companions are those who have a shared situation. These people might most likely be found in a support group. I would recommend both social groups in activities or areas that interest you (you could still find that special someone AND have a shared interest in other aspects) AND a support group.  One allows you to thrive and grow apart from the care-giving (which will continue), the other allows you a safe place to perhaps share your situation and find others who have common interests as well.

You would still have to proceed cautiously to get a good feel for how these others are coping. If you (in general social groups) or both of you in a support group are spending too much time commiserating, it will stilt any relationship you build. You do not want to build it on that part of your lives. Yes, it IS part of your life and always will be, but it should not form the foundation of any new friendships and relationships. It will be easier to talk about your situation with others who share a similar situation, during those times you need to "get it out", but any good relationship would be built on other shared interests and activities - at some point your wife (and their husband) will likely pass away from these awful conditions and then what is left of the relationship?

So yes - get out and try to enjoy life. Even when your wife and others were healthier, there must have been times you did a few things on your own (even if it was working - you build some relationships at work too.) You can STILL care for and about your wife while she is still here, visiting with her, talking to her, whatever you can, whenever you can while pursuing some socialization outside the care-giving. Just getting out among others is good for you and once you can really delve into whatever the activity is, you can have some moments (or even extended periods) of time where those care-giving pains take a back seat and perhaps can be forgotten in the moment and you can learn to enjoy yourself and life again. Don't focus on finding that special someone - focus on reintroducing yourself to life and the world! 

Getting across that threshold, into the "normal" world, is the first step. If it eventually leads to finding that special person, all the better. You will likely at a minimum form new bonds with a circle of friends, perhaps from different walks of life. Life is/should be a series of circles with you at the center.  Circle of family.  Circle of loved ones.  Circle of friends.  Circle of co-workers.  Some of these circles overlap and intersect.  Others may only touch slightly, but you are currently stuck in that one circle.  You need to develop some of the others while retaining this one.  There is no sense in shutting yourself off from life - you are still young enough to participate in and enjoy life, without forgetting everything leading up to and beyond today. You have given up many years, sacrificing for those you love, it is time to make some time for YOU as well as those you love.
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This is a very tough situation. I gather that your wife is the "shell" of her former self, stolen away by the MS. This is similar to any spouse that has been afflicted by a chronic, progressive disease - ALS, Parkinson's, dementia.

I see nothing wrong with your having a "companion." But there needs to be full disclosure from the beginning. Who knows, there may be a woman out there who is in exactly the same situation - a husband in a NH who is a forever invalid.

While I'm sure there is not a 100% correlation, it seems that men are more likely to associate "intimacy" with sexual activity. Women are more likely to consider intimacy as something in the "emotional" realm. However, intimacy is NOT the same as sexual activity - nor is it the same as emotional connection. (Plenty of people engage in sexual activity without intimacy or emotional connection.)

So, I recommend doing some soul-searching to figure out which you are actually seeking from an outside relationship. Maybe it's not really sexual activity you want - maybe what you really are seeking is some type of "emotional connection" with another human being who understands you well. This can be achieved with a close friend who knows much of our history, such as a college classmate.
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Two comments: the first is that an internet dating site gives you the opportunity to make your situation clear anonymously and without embarrassment, from your very first post. Some sites let you clarify your education, religion, interests, and any hangups you have. Even being a very short man can make you feel pretty awful! That’s only one of the many issues that are easier with an anonymous approach to a large pool of people. You can start contact with letters or phone calls, to check out even more – even if you just talk about your problem with someone who is interested. It’s another approach to what you have just done on this site, but doing more than just venting.

The second comment is that many other cultures would deal with this situation by taking a second wife without divorcing the first. There might be ways with ceremonies and legal arrangements to make a second relationship seem more respectable than just ‘taking a mistress’. But first find a friend who might be any sort of helpful partner.

Best wishes
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Salisbury, I am with you. It's not ideal, but it sparkles and makes my time at home with my husband tolerable. Because I am happier, I can be calmer and more supportive. My husband too is happier because I'm not often morose and depressed. Does he know? I don't know, but he knows I'm there for him and doing my best to be a pleasant partner. None of this is ideal, but it is what it is, and each person has to find their own way. Thank you, Istuscany, for bringing up this sensitive subject. May we all be supportive and non-judgmental, helping to preserve dignity and kindness.
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You cannot nor should not start dating women. This will make you feel worse not to mention the situation you will put the women in. What you can do is to join support groups as suggested here by others.
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I know a woman, who was part of 2 couples who were best friends. Both spouses got cancer. The two without supported each other through the entire thing,,, and a few months after the spouses passed,, got married and lived happily for about 20 years. It was a wonderful thing for both of them, they had shared memoirs and their spouses would have been happy for them. I agree with those who said look for others in your boat, either in a support group or at the home. Best wishes to you on this journey
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Going out on a limb here. I understand that lonely feeling, different reasons, but I understand. I like the idea of getting out and doing things in group type settings. If I had time, I think I would do that. It does a lot for you. If it's volunteering, then it's helping while keeping active. If it's weekly nights at the local Variety Club, then it's catching up with old friends and interacting with people socially, and it's also meeting new people. Hobbies are nice to occupy your time. But, I'm going to tell you something my therapist told me.

She said, "sometimes it's not being lonely for intimate companionship, but for just the breath of the living around you." In other words, go out and find a group of people you like that like you and take it from there. Don't try to cram a square peg into a round hole. Instead search for things and people that interest you. Who knows where it leads? In doing this you get to actually get the lay of the land, so to speak. You'll find a lot of things and ways have changed, even among your peers. It will help you adjust to life outside of all of the responsibility, and when the time is right, if ever, you will be better prepared for a relationship that will be understanding instead of assuming. I think you should do what is right for you, but be cautious, and accept that it may be a few times of hope dashed before your finally get a win. So be prepared for that. Then again, you may find you freedom has suddenly become too valuable to risk on one person (sorry for the bluntness). Now is the time to do the things that you wouldn't or couldn't do before because you gave up those things for your love. And you can always love your wife no matter what and still love and take care of yourself. I don't know if it's right or wrong in this situation. Honestly, I think many people keep themselves from discovering what they truly like because of this. They become robots to the wheel of fate, and get crushed under it.

Good luck to you.
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I am in my late 50's. I was diagnosed with dementia/early onset Alz, two years ago. My DW and I have taken care of settling our finances and all other legal matters. I have discussed with her what I want for her in the future and have told our two adult children and their much older brother from previous marriage, in no uncertain terms I want my DW to get on with her life and don't given Mom any grief. We do have one child still only in elementary school, who I believe is much too young for this discussion.
My symptoms seem to be getting significantly worse since Christmas. I have told my DW, that my wish is when I can no longer be cared for at home to put me in MC hopefully more than 100 miles from where we live. I don't want her to spend the rest of my life feeling like she has to visit me everyday. Especially, when I can't remember the life we have shared. I want her to be able to develop a friendship and love for another man that is as special as what we've enjoyed. My DW is in her very early 50's and is in good health and has a lot to offer someone else.
We have been faithful to each other since we were married. I was was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy in my early 40's and now Dementia, and she has never wavered in caring for me. As far as I'm concerned, she has done everything I've asked when I've needed help. Now, the time is closely approaching where she needs to think about having a life for herself.
I have given up all legal interest in our property and finances so that hopefully she will not be financially wiped out by my illness. I know I've been devotedly loved by her for over 25 years and when she is ready, I want her to share her love with someone who can enjoy their time with her, as I have enjoyed my time with her. I've had a perfect wife for well over 20 years. When she feels the time is right I want her to proceed on the next part of her journey. I've been greatly blessed.
Istuscany, I wish the best for you. I am lucky that I had to foresight and presence of mind to share my wishes with my family, for my family, while still of sound mind. Hopefully others will read this and perhaps it will help them do what they see as best for their own families.
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When my husband had his accident 20 years ago, one of his doctors told me I would go through the same feelings a woman who divorces has but different. I thought of those I knew who had divorced, U did experience much the same. But he also said I would have feelings as when someone's spouse passes away & I have a widow friend. Yes, it seems I experienced much of those feelings but the Doctor also said, it will still be that & more-very different. Yes, All of those & Very different. Even with all the hell & advice, even I who is living this without any real understanding so obviously others can't totally understand, try, as they may. Gos Bless
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I have been in similar situation going on 21 years now. My husband was in an explosion & in the hospital 8 months & 2 & 1/2 years to walk again. We are Blessed in so many ways & he is an amazing man able to do more than most. He has a 'can do' attitude to life. We both saw psychologists , Doctors & others to understand our situation. As for intimacy, I cringe if he even touches me yet can hug anyone & everyone else. Psychiatrist described it as a mother/ son relationship yet obviously still very different. I want more for him & for me yet he does not want a divorce I have suggested many times. NO ONE can understand anyone's situation unless they experience themselves. There are many good things but we All need touch, to hold & be held. I am very honest but never flaunt. I wish I had a real & clear answer but it IS difficult. I have had a couple outside relationships over the years, lasting years with his Blessings. They would even come & help in our couple acres at times. I want for my husband to have a complete Relationship just as I want that. He encourage me but it never seems completely right or moral yet I know I am a good & honest lady. I don't tell everything but if asked, always honest. His sole purpose in life seems to make me happy. Our finances in our 60's is nearly impossible to live apart & I worry how he would be on his own. It is very complicated, especially to those who don't or can't understand. Very lonely as our kids & friends try to understand but I know they are not comfortable when I try to explain... We have many good times but without others to enjoy with, the 2 of us, while we are a couple.. We aren't. So much guilt & longing to just hug, hold hands, cuddle & more. I, too, have sought answers from professionals. A Psychiatrist suggested buying 2 homes next door to one another. I could deal with no sex if only we could touch. It is only on my side, not his, which gives me more guilt. We are a rarely spoken or understood part of society & everyone's situation is different.
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I absolutely feel for you. One observation: I don't think you give women enough credit. There are likely women out there within the appropriate age range who could be supportive and understanding and don't "need" to be married. You know your wife best to know what she would want for you, but if I were in her place, I wouldn't want you to be lonely and sad. You are still loving and respectful to your wife, but you don't and can't have a physical/emotional relationship and companionship. It may be hard to find the right person, but she's out there.
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Hello Istuscany, I was where you are for 23 years! My husband started his MS symptoms the day after our wedding. We were in the hospital before the honeymoon. He became total care by the 3rd year which meant all the ADLs were up to me alone. For the first 12 years I was completely on my own to care for him. I promised him I'd never put him in a nursing home. I kept that promise and he died very young at 46.
I want you to know that I get exactly where you are and that I decided to do something different. I stayed with my beloved, we got on with living together. We did everything that non wheelchair people do but from the wheelchair. It was work for me, hard work and I know you understand how very hard that is. He stopped talking at around year 13 and was not able to move his own body (not even his head). For the time he could move better he did many things from the wheelchair and we were happy! Feeling lonely and alone is a natural response. For me, it wasn't that often because he was with me. I wonder, if you could stay home and care for your beloved wife and become her main care giver with respite help if that would be a surprising wonderful thing. Care giving is not for the faint of heart. I know I was called to care for my Davey, and He was worth every day I gave to his care and as his care giver wife. I am not saying it was easy by any stretch, but when he died, I held my head up knowing that his quality of life was excellent. He laughed all the time, mumbled thank you too many times to count, and gave himself to me in ways that only someone in the same situation could understand. I know, if I had the choice of putting him in a care facility, going on with life without him and thinking about my own happiness alone, I would become even more unhappy. We all make our choices, but I pray you will step back and look at the opportunity you are missing out on by having your wife by your side, no matter what her body and brain are doing. I sure wish I could meet you face to face and tell you my life story with Davey, it was the hardest, most rewarding and best decision I ever made. Time creeps on when you focus on self too much, and it flies by when you are focusing on someone else. I never thought I would have a happy life with my spouse having MS, but all things considered, I really did!
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Arleeda, I loved your optimistic response and road map!
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I agree with SueC1957. Having helped care for my mom these last few years, I learned I would NOT want to put my SO through this. Please try with all your heart to enjoy what you can in your life. Please don't bow to the sanctimonious. They are only that way to hurt others.
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I'm going to respond before I read the other comments. Your letter hits home and I am very sympathetic to you because you have spent so very much of your life looking after the needs of others in your extended family who have leaned on you. I feel so sad for equal loss of life for your wife and the life you should have had together. I am also in my 60s and wondering when it is my turn. My burden is less than yours and it is my choice out of love; nonetheless, it is also time that I will not get back. It seems unfair. I have friends, but as my life has become more restricted due to care-giving, many of them have disappeared or aged to the point where they are also health-bound/health-focused and self-centered. I miss normal conversation and wonder if I will ever feel free again or go straight into a life restricted by future physical ailments. I'm female, and while I would lend an ear to a male friend undergoing a difficult time, I would never consider being intimate or jeopardizing a marriage under any circumstances. I have faith that God plays a hand in this and this is my assignment. I'll do my best. Meanwhile, there are things I could be doing to increase my network of friends and I am entitled to some help and respite. This is just the way I choose for my self.
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I understand where you’re coming from. In part. I’m not looking to start a relationship w someone. But I understand the loneliness you feel and the burden MS has placed on you. My husband has had MS for 36 years. 15 full care. I say do whatever you feel is right without hurting anyone. No guilt just regret. No one knows what this journey is like until they actually do it. The emotional toll that caring for someone with MS is unique. I get it. At the end of the day it’s your life to live. Good luck
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Why not start a meetup group? You can determine the description- “for caregivers who want to meet others to enjoy social activities and companionship”, for example. I could have written your story. And now that I’ve told you that, I am going to set up my own group! You inspired me. I lost a lot of “couple friends” along the journey and now find that my “new friends” are all widows. My husband passed away in 2009. I “inherited my Mom and Dad but they were not living with me. Mom passed away 3 years ago and Dad came to live with me 4 years ago. For nearly 20 years I have been caring for someone else and I need a break-desperately. But, I agree, the people I want to be with have to do what I like- movies, theatre, short travel trips (unless they want to go to Hawaii!! LOL!), books, lectures and eating out- not necessarily expensive restaurants, just somewhere where food is casual and has a nice view. Local cruises (I live on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean and a major river. I do not want to sit on the beach, bake in the sun at a baseball game, go where there are huge crowds, but I do like concerts. Maybe some others will want the same thing. I do not want to ruminate about caregiving. I want to live and thrive and flourish. It’s time. And I don’t think you are doing anything “wrong”. People need people. And I don’t believe your wife would be at peace if she knew you were not happy. Go for it. I am going to do it as well. You may also see that there are other meetup groups that offer some of the social activities you enjoy and check out local senior centers-so have some fabulous programs. Good luck
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My husband had vascular dementia for 8 years before he died of major stroke. I was 76 at the time he died. I thought I was way too old for computer dating, but I joined My Time just to look, and was surprisingly contacted by several men, one of whom (2 yrs my senior) I am still in a relationship with 4 years later. I said in my profile that I was not interested in marriage, but in companionship. As for sex, yes in the first year, but then it got to be more trouble than it was worth with all our various aches and pains! We travel together as well as attend symphony, movies, or eat out 2-3 X week. I am financially pretty well off, and I do pay my own way--and when traveling pay part of his too--so I guess that increases my charm! Marriage is out because I have two children, two grandchildren and a niece who are set to inherit my estate. His house is falling apart, but I haven't offered any money to fix it. I have found that living alone isn't half bad if you have other friends and activities. In your 60s you should have a long dating life ahead of you. There are women our there who don't wish to remarry because of financial/family reasons. Try computer dating for seniors, you might be surprised. But be honest.
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So sorry you are in this dilemma. First of all, take a deep breath. Don't put so much on yourself. Then look up some old friends you and your wife made throughout the years and ask to join them on outings. There's nothing wrong with female companionship but if you're so concerned about falling for someone, maybe do things in a group setting. Find a hobby you used to like to and join a group. Another bigger help: join a support group. You're not the first nor the last person dealing with these issues/feelings. Being in a group setting with other going through the same thing and even making new friends can be a great stress reliever. What about your daughter? Does she help with her mom? Maybe designate more duties to her. Say no from time to time. You don't have to do everything. It's not selfish to want a break (or to be with people other than the patient).
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Well said !!
perhaps find a place like Galeray92 did?
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You have written quite an interesting writing and so different than all those I have read. Its a matter of morals and consciousness and my heart truly goes out to you. All I can say is put it in God's hands.
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Go one step at a time - it might be best to join a support group that focuses on the caregiver not the care receiver -

You live in a large area so there must be something that would meet your needs - you would meet other 'lonelys' & learn from them how to proceed with getting on with improving YOUR quality of life - they will be a good resource for making a new road map of your future - you may have to try more than one group to get the right fit
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Your story is truly heart wrenching, for both what you and your wife have been through. I’d like to thank you from a wife’s perspective for being a loving and caring husband. She’s been blessed to have you.
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I was in the same situation. I spent nine years caregiving for my husband with dementia. I was very lonely, depressed and extremely stressed. I was diagnosed with MS in 2009. His dementia progressed and got worse and my MS and depression worsened. Finally I had to put him in a nursing facility. I met a man on a dating site who's wife has MS and is in a nursing home.
We "get" each other and understand the loneliness. We provide companionship both physical and emotional for each other without any expectations and it works out well.
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Dear lstuscany, although this may not be exactly what you are looking for, from what you have written you seem to be an honorable man. You have spent a large part of your life caring for others - not what you wanted; however, you chose to provide in whatever ways you needed. This is a difficult path.

A couple of thoughts, I would suggest you see your primary caregiver (or one who specializes in caregiver stress, burnout, etc.) for a full physical. I agree with another, consider seeking the assistance of a counselor/support group.

Finally, have you considered finding ways to have an intimate relationship with your wife? It seems clear that a sexual relationship may not be possible, however intimacy with another can come in many forms. I could be wrong, but although I read you are lonely and want companionship, I feel an underlying sense that you really don't want it from outside of your marriage. A movie called The Notebook comes to mind.

Another thought, are you involved with a church? If so, there may be some resources available through the church, such as pastoral care, Faith Community Nurse, support groups, etc.

Here's to jumping on this gorilla and bringing it down to size.
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Lstuscany, you have been given lots of good advice here. I hope you take it.

I registered astonishment at this topic because this is just where I am. My husband is not in a home. He is AT home.  But between his hearing loss and his dementia, I am alone and have been for a very long time. Years. Years and years.

I have a male friend. OK, more than a friend. We are trying to "wait." Tough. We are not getting younger and this could go on for a very long time.

I thought I would lose my mom almost ten years ago because her memory loss/dementia was so bad. Guess what? She is now in memory care but still with us.

So, this can go on for a long, long time.

And as far as "waiting" goes, it puts me in the awkward but very real position of "waiting" for my poor husband to die. I find myself feeling slightly relieved if he oversleeps from a nap or in the morning. A voice in my head says, "Is this it, God?"

This is not right. I know that.

At the same time...

My more-than-a-friendship has brought a sparkle and energy into my life that I would never want to live without.

So, there you are, for what it is worth.
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There are many women who'd be friends with a man in your situation. You'd undoubtedly meet many people in support groups, hiking and meetup.com groups. You've already said that you'd be upfront about your situation and that you will not divorce your ill wife, so if you start out as just friends with the women you meet and take things slowly you'll almost certainly meet someone nice.
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I am assuming you visit your wife in Assisted Care - have you ever asked the person in charge about other spouses that are in the same position? You can't be the only one - lonely is lonely and it sucks.

I think if it were me, I would look to see if there is anyone else that comes to visit and seems to be 'alone' all the time. Start with, "can we share a table for lunch?" and see where it goes. As lonely as you are, you really can't know if you will even be able to "be" with another woman while you are married. No one can know until and unless the situation arises.

While my wedding vows are sacred to me - I do believe that God understands and we're not designed to be alone. We too are "pack" animals and want to be with others.

I would say, talk to the administer of your wife's assistive living and then take it one day at a time. I will pray for you to find your answers and if it is in your 'cards' I pray you find a companion.
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Itstuscany,
What a devoted husband you have been in such sad and lengthy circumstances.

All I can do is think what I'd want for my husband if I were incapacitated. I'd want him to go on and live his life to the fullest. I would feel like I had taken up a huge amount of his time and effort and stunted his social interactions. He should grow and be able to socialize and find happiness. If that includes finding a female friend that may turn into an emotional and/or physical relationship, then so be it. He should not have to suffer loneliness because I can no longer think clearly, walk or move myself or communicate with him.
The only thing I would not want is for him to forget me in the facility (so visit me once or twice a week) and please don't talk about your new friend to me. Not that I don't want hubby to have her, it's that I would feel bad because I CAN'T be the wife I would want to be for him. But I would be happy to see him happy.

In some folks, there can be a guilt component to this (of going against biblical teaching) but, in the 6 years I studied the bible, I don't ever recall a situation like this. You would not be divorcing your wife nor leaving her destitute. You would not be abandoning her nor stop loving her.

You just need to be nurtured and have a close relationship. Men and women are naturally attracted to each other for a reason. Close relationships (friends) of the same sex are great but it doesn't fulfill the inner need of man-woman companionship.

I would not judge you for whatever your choice would be. Yours was a huge sacrifice and you can't be told you can not seek out what the rest of us already have.

I hope you find your dreams.
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lstuscany, I've been in the room with that 800 pound gorilla. It is one (of several) aspects of caregiving that is different when caregiving a spouse instead of a parent. And it doesn't get talked about a lot. When a kid or grandkid comes over and says, "How are you doing, Mom/Gram?" you are not likely to say, "Well, OK, but I'm really horny." Or even, "I get so lonely when your Grampa is here physically but not really present."

The advice to join clubs and attend events and renew old hobbies, etc. is fine as far as it goes. In fact it is wonderful. But I don't think it is often given by caregivers of spouses. Social interaction is wonderful, but it does not replace intimacy.

I'd suggest joining a support group for spouses of people with MS. Not necessarily to meet people you could grow intimate with, but to interact with people who largely "get it" and don't need a lot of explanations.

It is natural when meeting new people to exchange basic information. What you do/did for a living, the size of your family, other places you've lived, etc. If you don't reveal that you have have a beautiful, successful 29-yo daughter and that your wife has been institutionalized for four years, I would consider that withholding important information. I don't think I'd trust you if I found out later in the relationship that you are married. I don't think talking about it a lot is appropriate early on. ("That is an important part of who I am, but I'd rather talk about something more fun right now.") But just stating the basic facts seems honest and courteous to me.

You might be surprised to learn how many married people are celibate because of their spouse's health. It is not usually what was planned or intended, but bam, there it is, a part of your life. This person whom you love dearly and who means the world to you is no longer able to share physical intimacy. I know this to be true of several people in my family. There are a lot of people coping with it -- Google "sexless marriage due to health" -- but it is not a topic of open conversation.

So, is it OK to have intimate relationships with others, under the circumstances? I think that is a very personal decision. I definitely think it is not acceptable to hurt your spouse, so that may mean some deception and sneaking around if you decide it is OK. And I definitely think it is not acceptable to deceive your new friend. Your friend must know and be OK with the basic facts of your life.

But other than the "Thou shalt not hurt your spouse or your friend," I don't have any rules for this. If I knew your wife and then I happened to run into you and your friend at a restaurant, I would not judge you. (And I certainly wouldn't tell your wife.) But some people would, and that is something you'd have to be able to accept, too.

A counselor might be able to help you sort out your feelings and make decisions. But not all counselors get it, either, so I'd specifically seek out one who has experience counseling caregivers.

Here's an off-the-wall thought: When a woman asks why you don't have a girlfriend, could she possibly be signalling that she would consider the role? Is it just curiosity or might she be flirting? Give it some thought!
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