Answered on: 6/13/2012
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Why won’t my husband make love to me now that I’ve been diagnosed with MS?
Changes brought on by MS can sometimes produce surprising and even hurtful reactions from one’s spouse. Spouses sometime need their own space and time to work through their fears and frustrations. With patience and good communication many hurtful responses can be worked through and sometimes understood and forgiven.The question, “Why does my husband not make love to me now that I have MS,” has many possible answers depending on whether it is a change in behavior shortly after diagnosis or a gradual withdrawal in response to increasing disability. The behavior has a lot to do with individual personalities, meaning attached to illness, and the quality of the marriage before MS entered into the picture.
When marriages are on shaky ground before a diagnosis of MS, they are not likely to improve with the challenges brought on by the diagnosis of a chronic illness. If a spouse does not have the emotional strength or commitment to be in a marriage with challenges, then withdrawing affection and physical love may be the first step to leaving the marriage.
However, sometimes the withdrawal has to do with caring too much and with a lack of understanding about the nature of the illness. The spouse may withdraw, fearing that he might physically hurt his partner. He may feel guilty that MS has happened to his wife. Depression, anxiety, and fear can cause a decrease in sexual activity. The spouse may experience these emotions as well as the partner with the diagnosis. Education and good communication are so important in these cases.
As physical disability increases, some individuals are unable to deal with the changes they see in their spouse. They may be unable to accept the lack of spontaneity due to fatigue or the change in “routine” postures to accommodate pain. With education many couples learn new techniques and positions. They go on to have a very healthy sex life together.
As personal care needs increase, it is very important for some husbands to have someone else provide the care. It is difficult for some spouses to fill both rolls of caregiver and sexual partner. These individuals have difficulty seeing their spouse as a sexy partner when they provide intimate, personal care throughout the day.
Although unfair and sad, some spouses are simply unwilling or unable to embrace a partner’s illness and disability. If all else has failed and you are blaming yourself and feeling unlovable it is very important to find the support of family, friends and professionals to gain a new perspective. When disappointed or devastated by your husband’s behavior, the best advice is to recognize that he may not have the capacity to love or cope when the marriage is challenged by illness. This does not minimize the hurt and the loss which will take time to grieve, but moving towards an acceptance of oneself is a goal worthy of the effort. The ability to like one’s self and to acknowledge one’s own self worth is the key to living with and adjusting to the changes that occur with MS.
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