Sexless Marriage With a Sick Spouse

1247889-small We received an overwhelming number of comments about last week’s provocative question, Can a Sexless Marriage Work? All of the comments were thoughtful, some even heart-breaking.

As a follow up to the discussion, what do you think about situations in which one partner is unable to perform sexually due to a health issue?

Our reader, Sad and Lonely shares more on her experience:

“I am married to a wonderful man who adores me every minute of every day. He also is disabled which I knew when I married him. I thought I could live with our sex life but I was sorely wrong. I woke up one day after about 7 years and thought, I can’t do this anymore. I used to think I would NEVER consider having an affair but here I am doing that very thing and looking forward to it everyday. It is the one thing that keeps me going in my marriage. Everyday I think about leaving but feel guilty about leaving someone that needs me. Wrong or not, everyone deserves to be happy (including my husband) and I will have to make a decision based on that. No relationship is guaranteed to last forever and people do change and grow apart. It is hurtful but you have to accept it and move on.”

Readers, how do you feel about this? Psychics, any words of advice?

35 thoughts on “Sexless Marriage With a Sick Spouse

  1. Dave

    My wife Lola has been diagnosed of cancer for years now and there has been to treatment apart from the normal chemo… I have spent so much on hospitals but nothing to show for it, Just 2weeks ago I met a man prophet Mica on web surfing on livingspirits.webs.com, He cure my wife’s cancer in 7days. He sent us a herbal medicine that cure Lola my wife in just 7days. Her cancer was already on the 2nd stage. I know you scared to believe this, but my dear Its true. Contact him through website and see for yourself. This is amazing, my wife is cured at last…I never knew Herbs are this powerful.

    Reply
  2. Rev

    My partner is drastically older then me and we always knew our relationship would be more of a short term affair but we pursued it anyway. When we started the relationship I was fresh in sobriety and I had never been able to care for anyone before. Well, his good qualities rubbed off on me and I ended up actually falling for him. However, he had long since lost his passion for sex before I came into the picture, whether is was medical, hormonal, or whatever. We really tried but our times having sex could be counted on one hand and after a couple years I gave up. I planned on leaving him but a few things always held me back. For one, he had been alone for years before I came into the picture. He has been mentally ill and I was always afraid he wouldn’t be able to bounce back from our breakup. Despite all of his amazing qualities, he can go to some very scary dark places at times and I was always afraid he wouldn’t be able to get out of that place, or might commit suicide, if I left.

    Still, I’m very young and I have always known that I needed more than what he could offer. I planned on getting out of the relationship during the summer of 2013, once our lease was up, whether he could handle it or not. However, two years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. Things went very quickly from there and he went from being diagnosed to getting 2 surgeries a week later, then immediately starting chemo. We were told he was going to die, but his cancer still was going to give him a year or two to live. I suddenly had to scrap my plans to leave because despite everything, he is the only person I have ever cared for. I don’t want him to die alone.

    I really tried, I was content for a while but then one day someone came into our recovery group and sparks hit. Someone much closer to my age that made me feel things I had shoved aside to take care of my partner. I talked with my sponsor and he told me to be honest with my partner. I broke down and talked with my partner and he was supportive at first. He told me to continue pursuing this other person, that he understood that, that person could give me things that he never could, as long as I always came home to him. I felt so relieved and promised that I would do just that. For a while I continued to pursue my interest in the other person but suddenly my partner went into a very dark place. He couldn’t handle the fact that I was seeing the other person and he had a breakdown. The time was very hard and I felt trapped and lost. I love my partner but he could never give me everything I needed. I found someone else that made me feel alive, but I promised my partner that I would choose him over the other man. Despite everything, I knew that my partner would die if I left. Even though he wasn’t my responsibility, knowing that my partner would die or not be able to recover if I left him, especially when he’s full of cancer, I told him I would always choose him and that I’d break it off with the other guy.

    Since then I’ve struggled immensely with what has been going on. Everyone keeps telling me I can’t give up my own happiness for him, but I feel like I don’t have a choice. Knowing that I could be the thing that killed him, even moreso then the cancer, I don’t know if I can live with that. So I’ve been trying to smile and pretend like everything is alright but I feel trapped on the inside. I don’t know to do. I’ve started seeing the other guy behind my partner’s back. I can’t do this all alone, and I’ve never felt these things before. I can’t let it go, that time period where my partner gave his blessing, I fell in love with the other man. So I’m in love with two different men, my partner and this other man but the love is completely different between the two. I feel my age, comfortable, and eagerly exploring sides of myself that I had long since forgotten/never experienced with this one man, and just trying to take care of my partner with whatever he needs on the other. I’m very torn and have been struggling a lot with this over the last few months. I don’t want me partner to die unhappy and alone, but I can’t ignore these other feelings. I don’t want to leave him but I don’t know if I can just let this other man out of my life.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      I have been involved with a married man for about a year, his wife has ms and is unable to have sex and do the things he enjoys. She has agreed on our relationship and then says she cant deal with him being with someone else. We have fallen in love with each other. They have 3 children. He has mentioned leaving but cant bring himself to leave. I am in the same place as you

  3. David

    It is the most heart breaking situation when the one you love can no longer have sex with you. My wife has MD Muscular Dystrophy it was not a problem at first but after a few years she was not able. I am at the point of having a affair just for sex, but I am torn I am a Christian Man and I am fighting myself the need for sex is daily breaking me down, I have tried mastubation to try and relieve myself. That does not work anymore, a person needs another person as God made it to be, I have held off but I don’t know how much longer I can take it. All I know is I have to make a decision soon, I just don’t know what to do?

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  4. Amy

    My husband has a different type of sickness! Its called a sexless sickness, we have been married 46 years and he and I only had sex once on our wedding night. Since that evening he has moved to our basement and just recently moved to his new garage that has apartment loft. He thinks sex is pointless, and can’t believe that two people who mentally sane would do some thing so disgusting to there body. He threw up the night we had sex! His problem is all physical and mental, what ever those problems are. In reality he has died yet but his life mine are prematurely dead. In our 60s and all I do is just wait for life to end.

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    1. Dave

      I am sorry, my wife is stricken with Ovarian Cancer and we have not made love for over ten years and I really am not excited to her. I with I could find a companion that thinks like me.
      Dave

  5. Hazel

    Hi, this is mor of a question than a comment. I’m newly disabled (a year and a half) and I now find it very difficult to have sex and ca do it maybe every month or other month, before this my boyfriend and I had a very active sex life. The first year it wasn’t so much of an issue as my partner had a flare up of his illness so he couldn’t either, recently he can but I can’t but to be honest, we’re closer than ever, we both still spend ever evening cuddled up together and I don’t feel frustrated or jealous of him using pornography which I thought might be an issue. I’ve always had a high libido but my partner hasn’t, I’m his first partner and he had pretty much resigned himself to being happy alone before he met me, so he says he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out at all. With us getting engaged recently I’ve started looking further ahead and I do worry a bit that at some point, if my illness does not improve which is a likely possibility, he will want more at some point or it may affect our intimacy (not to mention our wedding night.)Does anyone have any advice or thoughts they could share with me please, the only other person I know in a similar situation is my dad and while he and my mum are very helpful and open about it, we think having a disability from the start of a relationship will probably affect it very differently to getting one after years of happiness together. Thanks everyone, this is much appreciated, if anyone wants to ask me anything too, I’m happy to talk xxx

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  6. Ang

    We have been married shy of 39 yrs 3 weeks from now..1 yrs ago my husband had radiation for prostrate cancer at age 57.. Our marriage wasn’t perfect but we loved each other..this past year has been terrible..the loss of erections was more than he was able to deal with ? We were both still hoping after radiation things would be ok..but they were not..so we both had emotions to deal with,,yet my needs of wanting a friend per say, someone to still wrap his arms around me and hold me tight tell me everything would be ok, that person was left ion the radiation table..and if I tried to attempt to give him a hug or tell him i loved him, he ran? Soon any attempt to even communicate turned into bickering..I am longing for laughter, hand holding, walks,..a friend….he is longing for his morning erection..it is gone no matter what prescription they give and now so is he..he moved out..I do so wish that counseling automatically came with radiation..I was fine with a sexless marriage..I was thrilled he was still here on this earth with me..

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  7. Peggy

    I am a caregiver for my terminally ill husband who has a heart pump device implant. He is in the final stages of right heart failure as the device is taking care of the left side of his heart. There has been no sex in five years and I am exhausted and lonely. I have came to decide I need more out of life besides just existing and sitting around waiting for my realease from this marriage. I want to make a move into living my life again. What can I do?

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Peggy,
      I feel the same way. My wife got Ovarian Cancer 10 years ago and there has been no romantism in our lives since. She also just had a tumor removed from her brain (the second) and we are in and out of hopitals weekly. I am very sad and wish I had at least someone to share my feelings with.
      Dave

  8. virgo2757

    I have been married almost 24 years to a man whom I knew when we married had muscular dystrophy, but he was still able to get around, play some sports, do a lot of things. Looking back on our courtship, I realized I missed a lot of “warning signs” that he probably didn’t want to get married, at least not to me, or maybe because the doctors couldn’t predict how much or how fast his condition would deteriorate. But the doctors told him to go ahead and lead as normal a life as possible, including marrying & having kids if he wished, so he did. As our marriage progressed and he ignored me a lot to go out with his “buds”, I began to realize that he probably married me just so that he’d have someone to push the wheelchair in his old age, that he really wasn’t in love with me. But by the time I realized it, we already had a daughter, so we stayed married because of her. Now he is totally wheelchair-bound, can’t move much; I do just about everything for him, dressing him, showering him, etc. He still manages to hold down a job because it’s all computer work and his co-workers help him, so at least he still gets out of the house, sees people, and feels like a contributing member of society. Meanwhile, we have had no sexual relations with each other or ANYONE for at least 10 years; at 53, I still have some libido left, and since I feel no emotional connection to this man anymore, I am ready to have an affair if the opportunity presents itself. Never thought I’d find myself saying or thinking that, but there it is. As some others have said in this blog, I don’t leave him because I’d feel guilty leaving someone who needed me.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Virgo,
      I feel the same way. My 2nd wife died in a tragic accident over 15 years ago and I remarried. Now for over 10 years my new wife has Ovarian Cancer that has spread to he brain. There is no sex for over ten years and her attitude is not nice. I just want to share my feelings with someone that understands.
      Dave

  9. gin

    To all my respect and my misericord
    I have been in a relationship for 8 years and I was operated three times this year

    My partner has been in this abandonament mood ever since

    today is the first day that I do not call
    I wish like you say everyone would grow up
    together
    We all deserve happiness and I am going
    to get
    with love
    Gina

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  10. Xantipa

    Yes Jean-Guy,Edmonton Alberta…
    I have respect for you…I did similar with my husband …took care of Him for 11 years and was so busy doing it never even think about sex…He died 8 years ago and took me 4 years after He died to start dating and I found and married good man 3 years ago.There is no sex He is 82 years old I perhaps will be taking care of Him …but I do not regret..
    We hold hands,do things together-visit places etc…He was also widower and We are Happy…I was young when my 1st husband got ill with cancer but I will never abandon Him when He needed me most…
    You are doing the right thing and you will be rewarded as I was…
    Keep healthy in 2010…Ontario lady

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  11. Xantipa

    100% agree ….I see so many people care so much about sex life …what about Health??
    Not be able to have sex is health issue in most cases.
    But there is more in life than sex.

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  12. Xantipa

    That is very truthful “everything is disposable” …I hate that and remember my mother in law She disposed kitten just trow it out and what happened to Her own daughter?
    She did the same to Her=own mother and did it all 4 of Her husbands and end up homeless.
    That what this society is teaching people.
    My mother in law died abandoned /she gave all She had to daughter Marta/.
    But She teach Marta,”everything can be diposed including own mother,kids..yap…very very sad./
    Marta is now 62 years homeless women,Her kids don`t want to hear about Her /She never care for them as small kids/.
    Who can be blame here?? The mother who teach Marta these things.

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  13. Marie Ellie

    Five months after our wedding, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, after the treatments, he lost the ability to have sex and it became a sexless relationship – this affected him in a very negative way to the point that we are getting a divorce that I do not want. I had resigned myself to take his caring gestures in place of the sex and I was fine with it, but, that was not enough for him he felt too embarrased as a man. So, now, we are going through a very expensive and painful divorce. He keeps on delaying the process as if he is not sure about what he wants but cannot bring himself to say so. At the time, I nerver thought that maybe a sex therapist could have helped but by now it appears that it is too late. I am going to court on January 12 and whether he might change his mind – who knows? I wish that this subject of prostate cancer in men was discussed much more to give people like me an education as to what can be done, how should I have reacted or said to make him feel comfortable. In my case, I probably mishandled the issue and I feel very guilty and devastated about it because I am losing a very good husband whom I still love very much.
    HEARTBROKEN

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  14. Margaret

    I love all the commits and marital devotion sith sick spouses in relation ships, i do agree if you love them you stay for the ride. but now gang here is a differrnt situation, try this one on. What about a couple that is marries for over 18 yrs. and both are very healthy but the sex life has died and everything you try does not work because he says he just don’t have the urges no more. He can’t help it. So what does the wofe do when that ime comes. She is tired of materbating by herself. Millon dollar question solve this one for me gang.

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  15. Helen

    sex and love are not the same thing. I have a wonderful partner who cares deeply for me but it is a sexless relationship. My lover meets these needs but he isnt there when i am sick, when i need help to do jobs around the house, help disipline my children – a true relationship. What i am saying is different people meet different needs – my lover cant even remember my childrens names. They are both special in there own way but just looking for different things in life.

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  16. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi Jesse,
    Blessed Samhain to you and yours as well.
    Yes I agree with you….having a partner that shows tenderness and caring…genuine unconditional love
    means more to me than anything I can possibly think of.
    Blessed Be )O(…Gina Rose ext.9500

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  17. Psychic - Jesse - x9027

    My dear Gina Rose,
    First, you couldn’t be “an old woman” if you tried! LOL! Just because we are crones, we are still sexy…I hope I am, and I can tell you are, too! LOL!
    Your advice was great and quite thought provoking…(loved the part about rewriting the vows…you are SO right about that!)
    I completely agree about the importance of comfortable companionship vs. red hot sex. I think we have all known people who were great is bed and worthless all the rest of the time.
    Even though my partner is 14 years younger than me, we have been together for 16 years and my “lustiness” 😉 has ebbed and waned and we have also walked through longs periods of health issues for my beloved, as well. It was the depth of the devotion that kept us alive as a couple.
    It wasn’t always easy, but we have always seemed to find our way back to one another.
    I think we live in a culture with the attitude that everything is disposable. From our razors to our relationships. If it doesn’t seem to be as bright and shining as it once was, throw it out and get another one! That is just wrong!
    I counsel people all the time who are already in a relationship and are lining up the next one because the old one just doesn’t feel exciting anymore.
    The change they are seeking needs to come from within themselves. If folks worked a bit more on what was “dull” about their own perceptions and not so much on their partner’s shortcomings, there would be so many fewer divorces.
    And speaking of my beloved, I was just brought a nice bagel and juice for breakfast here in bed…now THAT’s really hot! 😉
    Blessed Samhain,
    Jesse 9027

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  18. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi….
    I think age and circumstances play a huge part in this…..everybody is different.
    So, and I’m only speaking for MYSELF here….I can honestly say that as a YOUNG GrandMother past menapause,I would rather have a partner for mere companionship, mental & emotional…..IF the physical is still there , all the better…..if not, so be it.
    I could and would stay with a partner who loved me but could no longer perform in bed….I see the actual sex act as a bonus… not a requirement.
    I would rather have a partner who I know cared enough about me to (just for example) make me chicken soup if I had a headcold….than somebody who is good in bed.
    ******* Different people have different needs…everybody has to walk their own Karmic life path.********
    I’ve done readings for 43 years….you cannot judge anybody unless you are in their shoes. What feels right for you, may not ” fit ” for another.
    I’ve always thought though that marriage vows should be re-written, you know…” in sickness and health, for richer or poor ”
    ….nobody is leaving for the better, in health, or in richer times.
    Marriage vows need to hi-lite the poorer times, the “in sickness ” times. The vows should place more emphasis on old age, cancer, bankruptcy, infidelity…etc.
    Just an old lady rambling….
    Blessed Be )O(…Gina Rose ext.9500

    Reply
  19. ron

    love and sex in your life must be at the same level,other couples married for almost two decades and they are not having sex for almost a decade now,Know what? They don’t love each other, but they still respect their sworn commitments, of course they are not happy for their situation…Yes it is abnormal way of life, Whatever it is, you must be patient and try to find ways how to be happy with your partner without sex.If you fail to do so,you must tell him the reality then go and decide to where you will be happy,everyone deserve to be happy.

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  20. Akashicc

    Having or not having sex is never about the physical act of sex. Never. It’s a drive like hunger that connects us to many aspects of ourselves, including the aspects of our selves that we feel disconnected from. Our food preferences also reveal much about us. The greatest sin would truly be that we don’t learn more about ourselves as we move through our lives making choices and manifesting experiences. Commitment is about our commitment to ourselves. Relationships are about our relationship to ourselves. If we are feeling resistance (such as being judgmental)to someone else’s experience of themselves, it says something about how we relate to ourselves. It speaks of our inability to forgive ourselves, for example. We provoke ourselves into feeling unnecessary pain and suffering which triggers us to act in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t. When we try remedy our feelings of disconnectedness, emptiness, loneliness, etc, there are many ways through which we express it, such as eating, substances, manifesting physical illness or looking to others for some form of validation. Often times we develop a way of coping that takes on a life of its own before we even know what hits us. When push comes to shove the best thing we can do for others and ourselves as human beings is to expedite the journey to self-knowledge. The more self-aware we become, the less we suffer and the less we reflect suffering to others. Yes, we are so much more than our gonads, but we are not appreciating the messages and signals our gonads are sending us. We don’t know anything about the woman in this scenario and her husband. It’s very likely that there is something she’s responding to, interpreting it as sex, and she hasn’t gotten to the bottom of it, yet. Sometimes something drastic needs to happen to upset the stagnation in our lives. What I really hope to see more of from this conversation is more honest dialogue with ourselves and more accountability to ourselves. Peace to you all.
    Om namah shivajah

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  21. Get Real

    I understand the need for her to have sex, but why can’t she leave before the affair? She had to wait until she fffound someone else then leave. Sounds like a coward to me.

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  22. Jean Guy

    I do not agree with this lady. Here is my personal situation.
    I am married for over 39 years, my wife is sick for the last 14 years. She is now 76 years old and I am 68. For the last 6 year, she is paralyzed on the left side due to several strokes, cannot move her left arm and leg. Her tong is also affected and she can hardly say a few words. She is in a Care Centre because of her needy condition.
    Having no kid (rheumatic fever w/damage heart at age 7), I attend to her every night (365 days a year) from 16:30hrs to feed her, assist the attendant to change her to her night gaunt and put her to bed. She love to look to the T.V. and I stay with her up to 21:00 to 21:30hrs as she wished or until she fall asleep. She cannot close the T.V. herself. It is very demanding but one should remember that she will probably do the same thing for me. Remember the BIG GUY upstairs will take care of me one way or the other.
    You can see I can not have a girl friend in this situation (no one will agree to be second). I realize I love her more than ever now. I have been abstinent for over 14 years and yes, you can live with that if you really love and care for your partner. You don’t have to be selfish in the life.
    Jean-Guy, Edmonton, Alta.

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  23. Sandra

    WOW!!! This is a touchy topic, but far more interesting that so many people are having this same challenge: Love v Sex v Committment v Vows–Well I sincerely know that if you love someone you will experience alot and you have to be strong no matter what! One mistake could cost you your life or future! Is it worth it? You try different things but if there are health issues I suppose you see it to the end and try to get through those tough moments of sexuality that you are not getting…TRUST GOD!

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  24. Steve

    Extraordinary comment. You and your fiancee used creativity and mutual respect to overcome an obstacle by finding a way to communicate deeply in a unique manner suited your individual situation – what a blessing to know that it was appreciated. So, there is truth in the statement that, “in giving, we receive,” isn’t there? All best to you!

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  25. Akashicc

    I agree with you Ladybug. I also note the Darcy is a double Leo. Her approach is very typical of Leo females and to a lesser degree men (there’s a little entitlement that goes with the male dignitary, lol) My belief astrologically is that we choose planetary energies that will best support our purpose in this earth walk. Someone who is here to stick it out through thick and thin may best be supported by being a Leo, for example. At any rate, my ex-husband is also disabled (so he believes). I loved him and still love him dearly. I left because of his addiction to drugs, anger, and refusal to move forward. I used every resource at my command to support him in moving forward with his life and our lives together. I’m quite the bedside healer and when I would find a regimen that was working for him, he would stop following through because he preferred the drugs. I’m a Sag, so I can assure you (not that you need the assurance lol), I was very, very, very flexible, but in the end I was no further ahead and as it turns out, I can serve us both better by not being with him. We did have a great sex life, though. I also believe that there are many levels, or pieces, to experience from each situation we’re presented with. What we will do with those experiences will be based on the karmic lessons both individuals came here to learn. There is always agreement in what we experience with the people we encounter, even if it doesn’t feel that way; we’re still sharing the lesson. Thank you for your post and I second your sentiments.

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  26. Ladybug

    This is really in response to the original comment that was made and not the above reply. I would not and could not stand between a woman and her husband and encourage her to dishonour her vows and her marital bed to sleep with another man for a few moments of pleasure.On the other hand no one else has the right to restrain her for making the decision to find fulfilment with another man whilst her husband lies dying.One day you might wake up and the choice has been made for you. There’s nothing noble in suffering – it kills your spirit rather than enhances it.It will take courage to be honest with a sick spouse to tell them what you are thinking and feeling and needing but it would be far better to do that than hide behind their back and deceive them.Even if it means telling your spouse your deepest darkest thoughts it will free you up (and hopefully them too)to value what you have and find a way through what is a challenging time for you both.

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  27. GB

    I was in a similar situation except that he became disabled (from a degenerative brain disease)about 10 years into the marriage. I can remember sex only 2 times in the two years prior to his diagnosis. I remained faithful and stuck it out 8 years plus he lived in the house another 1 and a half years post-divorce. I had the same guilt and moral dilemna of how do you leave someone who is disabled. I came to believe that God did not want me to sacrifice my life because this happened to him. I had a young daughter (3 yrs at the time) to raise and knew I would have to do that on my own. Post divorce, he is in a nursing home and I still support him, bring our daughter (now 13) to see him weekly, buy things for him and am a good friend and support. I started dating a year ago- honestly, that has been more frustrating than the divorce in retrospect. I believe I made the right decision. Just because you divorce, doesn’t mean you still can’t be there for the person in need.

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  28. Claylady

    This is so close to my heart. My finace passed away 16 months ago from kindey/liver failure. We lived together and I was his care taker. In the two months from the time we became aware of his illness til his death, while we could not make love by intercourse, it did not stop us from making love. One of the very last times he was at home, he made love to me one night by simply caressing my shoulder. When he was in his coma in the hospice ward, I continued to make love to him in this same way. It may not sound like much, but it was so very special to us. When I contacted CP after his passing, Rose Mary x9549 saw him rubbing his shoulder. While she did not understand it, I knew he remembered and was sending his love my way.

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  29. Sharon

    The last 16 years of my marriage were sexless. My husband was so ill. I took care of him until he died. I never betrayed him or even considered it. He was a wonderful man who cherished me and I would do it all again in a heatbeat. I was Blessed to have him in my life, there is more to love than sex, although there is nothing wrong with wanting a good sex life with the one you love.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Sharon,

      I understand. After a nasty divorce I remaried and after 7 years my wife died in a terrible accident. I remarried a year later only to find out in a couple of years my new wife had Ovarian Cancer. I cried and called all her relatives and children to tell them the news. Now it has been about 7 years and she is still surviving. Problem is there is no intimate relations since then and her attitude as me as her care giver is just not making it. I hesitate to leave her because I know what is up ahead for her and I love her and do not want her to be alone in the last days. But I am also human and long to have someone to hold and touch who appreciates and reciprocates. It has been 10 years since I have been intimate mentally or physically with a women.
      Dave

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