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I am 65 and have been married to my wife for 45 years. We always had a very good sex life. She now has a neurological disease that has completely taken away her sex drive and has made her so physically frail that sex would actually cause me fear of seriously hurting her. I am so sad and depressed because this disease has robbed me of my partner and my lover. I am still in good health and good shape and still have a strong desire for physical intimacy. I have talked about this with her and it usually just ends with me in tears because in the end she just has no desire any longer which takes away from any enjoyment I would get if anything ever would happen. I have read articles that say snuggle more, hold hands or other types of activities for physical closeness. But to be blunt, I need good old fashioned sex and I'm so depressed and even angry after being celibate for so long. How do I get past this? I cannot imagine living the rest of my life this way and yet there is no way out. I have been faithful for our entire marriage but now sometimes wish I could find a "friend with benefits". That's how fed up I'm getting. My wife is still the love of my life and I'm just so torn. Something has to give somewhere. I can't be the only one with this problem so if anyone has any advice please share it with me.

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I am writing from the patients perspective and have addressed this issue in the past. I was diagnosed close to 3 1/2 yrs ago with Early onset Alz at the age of 57, as my DW and I had just undertaken the job of Estate Planning. My DW is 8 yrs younger than I am. We put everything in a Trust in my DW's name, I gave up ownership rights to all of our money and property, Medical Directives, DPOA, Pour Over Wills, funeral arrangements etc. We laid out the entire plan before our adult children, our youngest child is 12 yrs old. The Trust has its third birthday this week. No provisions have

I've explained to my DW that when the time comes for me to be put in Memory Care, I want to be placed 100 miles from where we live. I don't want her nor our children to feel they have to spend everyday visiting me. I want it to be inconvenient for them, so they'll be able to get on with their own lives. I won't know any differently. I've watched both a maternal uncle and my stepfather die from ALZ. I also told the children, let mom get on with life, find a friend with benefits who she can enjoy time with, like we have for the 25yrs we've been married and dating. I have declined significantly in the last 6 mos.
I still continue to do what I am able to do for the family, and the list is getting shorter. I want my DW and family to continue enjoying life and not look back, life is for the living. Life has been good to us, we've practiced our faith and practiced it since we began dating. We've had a great marriage, I don't want her to spend the rest of her life being lonely, she has a lot to offer another man. Why shouldn't she feel free to make a new life for herself.
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burlebaby Oct 1, 2019
You are wonderful for loving her and the children that much. Life is hard with a lot of difficult choices to make. We may think about getting on with our lives, but those of us that are devoted to our loved ones will have a tough time actually doing it. You are a very smart, compassionate, and caring man and your family was blessed to share their lives with you. Only good thoughts and best wishes for your future.
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I feel sorrow every time I read a post like this because I know what's coming. A lot of what you read in response is going to be "holier than thou" social rhetoric. For a supposedly "progressive society" we are very straight laced when it comes to anything sexual. American society is immensely fond of martyrs. We adore a "tragic romance". We love those "hallmark" moments of intense sacrificial love. The "till death do us part" chants ring loudly on sites like this. Heck, in some states adultery is still illegal and in virtually all states it can figure into divorce petitions in a negative way. On the other hand, it can also be illegal to have sexual relations of any kind with a spouse who is mentally unable to consent soooo LOL yeah, you simply can't win for losing.
What does a caregiver do about sex? A few do without sex entirely, some find a "friend with benefits", some just masturbate. Most don't talk about it, avoid the answer, or flat out lie about it in order to avoid harsh judgments. I hope you find your way through this maze of care-giving. In all my life I've never met that mythical sainted caregiving spouse everyone talks about. They seem to be everywhere online but in real life every care-giver I know is struggling with one issue or another. Hang in there! Bless you.
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Volcaretaker Oct 5, 2019
Very well said. I agree.
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I want to thank everyone who has posted an answer to my post. Every one gave me something to consider. I will attempt to give a broad answer to some of the topics that were brought up. First the friend with benefits. I don't know how I would react if I went this route but if I did it would almost certainly be best if the lady was in my same predicament so we both would understand why we were doing what we were doing. But I certainly am not ruling this option out. The taking matters into my own hands. Believe me, it's starting to get old. Nothing replaces the human touch,sharing with another. That's what I miss so much, the sharing and being desired. And am I a sex addict? This made me chuckle because for 40 years that was our little private joke, I always told her she was my one addiction and I would never be able to kick the habit and she would giggle and smile a smug little smile loving the fact that I was addicted to her. And yes, we have discussed this and her honest feeling is that she doesn't want to think of me with another woman but she feels badly for my situation, so she's kind of in an emotional tug of war too. This is not easy for anyone.

So thank you to everyone for understanding that even at my age I still desire physical love and miss closeness and sharing that goes with it. I'm just a normal nice guy who is trying to find a way to deal with something that most people would rather not talk about.
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harryp Oct 1, 2019
This is beautiful. Your situation speaks to the need for, perhaps, a kind of 'advance directive' for couples around this issue, much like a living will. This would spell out options and agreements in a loving way and would provide clearer guidelines should one partner become unable to be with the other intimately. Thank you for your courage...
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Paddy, what you're feeling is so natural. I think you already know all the options here. Only you have the answer that will work for yourself. If you need someone to say having an affair is an acceptable solution, you're the only one that knows whether you can live with that or not. I have dear friends who are in a serious relationship as his wife has been in the non-communicative stage of Alzheimer's for years. Yes, he suffers from guilt, but also has something to look forward to. He's a WONDERFUL caregiver to his wife, going beyond anything I can imagine being able to do! But his wife will never recover. So he allows himself to live as much as possible. If you choose to go outside of your marriage for intimacy, my one caution would be to never, ever let your wife know. If you feel guilty, you must bear it alone. Confessing to your wife will not benefit either of you. I wish you the very best whatever you decide.
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burlebaby Oct 1, 2019
Thank you for such a compassionate response to Paddy. There is absolutely no reason to tell the wife and hurt her feelings, she is going through enough. Just having her husband fulfilled and happy will be a big relief to her. I imagine it would lift a big weight off her...I know it weighs my hubby down knowing he is useless to me and cant help do anything...my sadness just increases his feelings of worthlessness. Even hiring a handyman to help out, hurts his feelings...no need to tell, you are allowed this one secret!
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When your mind is ready your hand is ready. :-)
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anonymous828521 Sep 29, 2019
👍 u got guts qmnpxl.
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Paddy, the way I look at this, what if the tables were turned, and you were the one who had the health problems, and your wife was taking care of you. Would you want her going out with other men? Just food for thought.
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Dear Paddy, Please don't let the Debbie Downers distress you. A hobby or a church or anything else can't take the place of physical need. I know. My husband can't perform anymore and his disease prevents him from even satisfying me in any way. I too feel the need every day. Sometimes, on a warm, sunny, afternoon when the morning's work is done I would love to have an "Afternoon Delight" and take a well earned nap. It doesn't happen for me either anymore. "Taking care of yourself" isn't the same as feeling loving hands and a warm body against you.

You asked a good question, I hope you can find YOUR answer, not someone elses. What does your wife say? If she wants to make love to you, perhaps her OBGYN can help with some ideas. As one writer put it, have you talked to her doctor about this? Maybe she isn't as delicate as you think her to be. Side by side love can be very wonderful.

If she isn't willing or physically able to accommodate you, you do have a problem. Could you have a "Friend with Benefits" and keep it to yourself? Your wife should not know. It will just harm your marriage. Can you do it without being emotionally entangled? Only you know the answer. If you do go this route, I strongly urge both of you to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases before deepening your friendship.

My heart goes out to you, and remember, you are not alone out there.
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 1, 2019
I agree with if something happens whether planned or not if it is in the best interest of ‘keeping information private’ for the sole purpose of not harming a very long and loving marriage, then maybe it is for the best.

Some cannot do this due to enormous guilt. Then you are telling for your benefit and not the other party.

I know people who have told me they wish they had never found out about an affair that had long been over, or especially a one night stand over a long affair. Some therapist even claim emotional affairs are more damaging because a person’s heart becomes involved over something that is purely physical.

Some people truly would rather not know.

People struggle with would they tell a friend about their spouse having an affair. I don’t think I would because sometimes they already know and they would not ever want to discuss their private lives with others. Tough call to make because it can not only harm the couple but a friendship too.

The other side side of the coin is some people would rather know. So it is terribly complicated. Not as cut and dry as some would like us to believe.
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Im in your situation and i know just how you feel. My husband is in a nursing home with end stage dementia. I joined a support group and became friends with a man whose wife was also in a nursing home completely mentally incapacitated. We were both lonely. We became friends and eventually w/benefits. We are both devoted to our spouses but enjoy each other socially and sexually. His wife is still his first priority and that’s fine with me. We each must do whatever it takes to get by.
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elaineSC Oct 1, 2019
People are on here now talking about cheating on their sick spouses! Awful! Go to church and get hobbies.
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PaddyDaddy,

Thank you for your courage in bringing up this topic. I am a bit surprised by the levels of judgment in several responses. You may be familiar with the term polyamory. This refers to the practice of consciously exploring non-monogamous relationships. In a circumstance like yours, this may be valuable to look into. There are multiple websites and various groups that provide the opportunity to openly and honestly discuss these perspectives. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy sex drive at age 65 (or 70 or 75 for that matter). As we age and continue to take care of our health, sexual desire is simply a normal aspect of who we are as human beings (in spite of the guilt, shame and condemnation often associated with it). From my perspective, since the deepest, most unconditional love involves placing the other's needs first, it seems a perfectly viable and loving alternative for your spouse to honor your needs and for you to find an intimate partner. It takes nothing away from your existing relationship; you obviously are deeply devoted to your wife; and, this option allows you to fulfill a legitimate need. Of course, I don't know the nature of your and your spouse's history, beliefs about sexuality, religious perspectives, and so forth. I know that I plan to have this discussion with my own partner, and fully expect that we will come to an agreement that, should either one of us become incapable of physical intimacy, that the other partner would be free to fill this need in a healthy and honest way. I wish you the best in this challenging situation, and hope that you will be able to remain unimpacted by the harsh judgements of those who would project their morality, insecurities and shame on you.
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ticrust Oct 5, 2019
RIGHT ON! This question is RAW but is a real situation. I looked for a while until I found this thread. Not being the only one is a relief in some ways.
Life is full of those who "dont pay your rent but want you to live there way".
I have the same situation. My wife has dementia. I feel like I failed as a man because I could not fix this already, and then the intimate part of our relationship is GONE also.
I know if it were me I would tell my wife LEAVE ME and find a new person to make your life great! She would not deserve to be ran through what is coming.
I will not leave her but I have desires. Her happiness is all I really care about. I dont have the horsepower to ask her what I should do for the warm love that I miss so badly.
I am a lucky man to have had the time we have had together.
This is just ripping me apart.
I agree that I am the one who has to live with the decisions I make.

God Bless.
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Paddy,
I don't have any practical tips to offer, but I also won't offer judgement. To each his own, and who am I to judge? None of us asked for this journey and we are each finding our own way. You have obviously had an admirable relationship. 45 years is a marriage to be proud of. You recognized the sensitivity of this topic, and I can guarantee you that you are not the only one who has felt this way. Those brave enough to ask it on this site before have recieved a lot of opinions. Only you will be able to make this decision for yourself. Having to make constant, impactful caregiving decisions is hard enough without having to deal with the judgement from others.
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