Ten years has been the duration of my husband’s disease, which has made his movement difficult, and has weakened his cognition. The progress has been slow, starting out mild, and reaching advanced stages in recent years. In his early 70s now, he has various additional conditions, contributing to his poor health.
We reached the 30-year mark of our happy marriage, and then my new role as his full-time caregiver became another milestone for us. He is no longer independent at home, as he had been while I worked full-time during most of these 10 years of his disease. And, now during my full days with him at home, I cannot be the same person I was when we were together only evenings/nights, and weekends.
When he was alone on weekdays, and my caregiving role was evenings/nights and weekends, he had autonomy for his daily meals, medicines, and routines. As his caregiver 24/7 now, by contrast, I cannot spend the days in monitoring his success — or lack thereof — with the autonomy he’s had previously. I’m in this role, specifically, because he needed that much help to stay safe and well. Naturally, I’m not thrilled about this, and neither is he. However, we were happy enough to choose that option from a group of equally challenging options.
My love for him has become more in line with, possibly, a mother’s love for her own aging father. My caregiving for my spouse is now far from romantic, in my mind. I suppose the spark is gone for me, due to my own physiology as much as my repurposed love and affection for my husband. He’s quite different, often behaving more like a rebellious teenager would behave with family. Regardless of the stimulus for his spontaneous, frequent “be sexy now” instructions to me, I’m usually not inspired and therefore will not engage. To which he generally will choose to continue asking/ instructing/ taunting/ begging until he gives up.
I have no one to talk to about this, although I receive a lot of encouragement from friends and family. This is just such a very personal “taboo” for discussion, is it?
Sexual interaction should be a mutual agreed upon thing. If you don't want to do it, then don't and don't let anyone make you feel bad about it.
It was nice to read a man's perspective on this issue. Very well said!!
This is a very difficult topic at best and I don't have the kind of answers you are looking for. It would probably be most beneficial to talk to a counselor regarding these sensitive issues.
That being said, I can only offer you some understanding. One of the problems I see right off the bat is when you said your love for your husband has become like a mother's love for her own aging father - that would lead you to have a "this isn't right" or "taboo" feeling towards a normal husband/wife intimacy. Also, the fact that he behaves differently i.e. rebellious teenager that also, may be in the back of your mind as once again being "taboo." Undoubtedly, you are not inspired nor would anyone else be if they feel they are being given instructions to follow (and no one wants to be begged - that would kill spontaneity on the spot )so it's like the role flipped and you are now the teenager and he's the adult. All that does is create confusion within your own mind.
The spark is gone for more than just the repurposing of your love and affection. No one has an "on/off" switch. You have the fact that your not working your full-time job anymore in order to devote 24/7 care to him - caregiving is exhausting. The pandemic is not helping either as you are left with limited choices to help you get out of the house for a much needed respite and time away from him - some personal space.
Often in the caregiving situation, one feels trapped. It's very difficult to maintain a happy disposition which in turn doesn't make one feel the romance as in their more youthful years.
Even though it's not the identical situation you are in, I remember when my father passed away in 2004. It was the first death of a loved one I ever experienced and I was in deep shock and grief. I remember when my husband wanted to be intimate the following week. I just couldn't - my head was not there and in a strange way, it almost felt wrong to me.
I sure hope you will find a professional to work with you regarding these issues because it's really what you need for such a complicated situation with all the complex feelings you are experiencing.
You will be in my thoughts and prayers!
My appointments with a counselor therapist began a few years ago and — except during Covid and other occasional breaks — they have continued monthly or bi-monthly. You are correct!
Do u have children? If so, remember when they were babies. The constant care for them. Not getting any sleep and if you worked...so tired you couldn't keep your eyes open...sex was the last thing on your mind. Same here. Now you are older caring for a much bigger baby. You just don't have the stamina you had when younger. Its hard to be intimate when you don't enjoy caring for someone.
I am mid-60s; when DH’s mobility disorder began with the diagnosis, I was mid-50s. It was jarring. Thank you sincerely for your support! I truly want to enjoy caring for my DH. It’s disappointing that my expectations for gratifying togetherness didn’t pan out, as we shared a fulfilling love. The metamorphosis in our roles was life-changing.
I can appreciate your frankness, it is a difficult discussion to have for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this situation evolves in a marriage even when you’re not the “caregiver”. I totally understand when you say that your love has changed. My husband has not been able to “perform” for several years primarily due to extreme weight gain and ED. We are in our 60’s which seems young to give up on our sex life but it really became a one sided chore for me which he seems to have understood. We have been married almost 40 years and I believe we still have a close relationship, but it’s changed for sure. It makes me very sad. We both wish the sexual part of our relationship could be the way it used to be. I have just accepted it as part of aging.
It is sad and although my husband and I haven't been married as long as you and your husband since we both got married later in life, we are dealing with the same thing. Unfortunately, with the aging so comes the health issues that can cause these unplanned outcomes. We still wonder if one of his surgeries played a role.
If you have had such a long, happy marriage, I’m assuming that you’ve had good communication skills with each other. It would be a difficult conversation, but perhaps if there’s a time when he’s feeling peaceful and not asking for sex, you could discuss the matter with him. Acknowledge his desires/needs for sex and describe how the interest is no longer there, despite the fact that your love is still there. Perhaps you can come to a solution together. I hope it works out for you!
Also--he treats me like the maid/cook/housekeeper and that is far from making me feel desired or loved. He has not kissed me on his 'own' for years. I have to go to him. He chose to keep a huge TV in the master bedroom over having me sleep with him. It's on all night long, many, many nights. I moved downstairs years ago, so I could sleep!!!
I told him, 5 years ago when I remodeled a room to be his 'man lair' that he could use this room as his haven--and he does, along with the bedroom. The idea was that the TV would be moved into the den---he still says he's going to do it--but after 5 years? why should I believe him?
He's never had much of a sex drive--ever. I am frankly shocked we had 5 kids. The odds were sure against it.
My sister who is 66 and whose DH is 69 still have sex 3-4 times a week. we haven't had it in 7 years and then it was like, I dunno, 3-4 times a year.
We don't talk about it. He will roll over on his side and put a pillow over his head if I ever tried to talk about it. I just quit.
Sure isn't the plan I had for us. He blames me 100% for the lack of intimacy. That I know for sure. But if he won't even turn the d2mn TV off for 1/2 an hour and give me some affection--you eventually give up.
your relationship is different now but you can still be the loving caring spouse, but I think sexual thing is done.
cuddling hugs caressing is nice ..
no amount of talk counseling can
bring it back.. I think you have more than enough to worry about now so I wouldn’t feel guilty about it ... things and relationships change .. it’s nobody’s fault!!!!
good luck with everything else !!!
Life often throws us curve balls and it's nobody's fault - we just need to learn how to "make lemonade when life gives us lemons" as the saying goes.