Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Any sexual problems or difficulties not listed in a specific section.
LoveIsSweet
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Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby LoveIsSweet » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:34 am

How do you handle sexual expression when your spouse is in physical pain? I'm not really talking about genital pain, but rather chronic or episodic pain from injury, deformity, or illness--pain that occurs during all of life, including sexual expression.

Do you keep sexual expression but take a break from PIV or the activity exacerbating the pain the worst? Do you ask your spouse to "grit their teeth" and bear it for your sake? Do you go to a non-sexual relationship until healing occurs and the pain goes away?




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LoveIsSweet
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Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby LoveIsSweet » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:38 am

I'm asking because I don't know what to do or how best to care for my husband in his pain.

My story: My husband suffered a shoulder injury in the fall. He's in his early 30s. Sex and many other activities are very painful for him. His drive already seemed lower than mine, and in general we had sexual expression only 1-2x/week even before the injury. I know that, at least from his phraseology, he initiates those times primarily because he is trying to meet my sexual needs, not necessarily because he is feeling the need himself. I'm grateful he wants to meet my needs, even though it stings that he doesn't seem to feel the same desire/need for me. Enter the shoulder injury, and I feel like a heel for still desiring and needing him when he's having sex mostly for me *and* he is in considerable pain when he does so.

His pain scares me, and even though I desperately want him, I worry through any sexual expression that I am making his pain worse, especially because I know sex has made the pain worse on nearly every occasion. He sometimes has to stop mid-PIV because of the pain, but other times he doesn't tell me how bad things got until afterward. If he's hurting I am worrying and unlikely to climax from any type of stimulation. This week was the first time he tried to help me climax after his, but I couldn't relax enough because I knew even the manual stim wasn't comfortable to him.

I know I have hurt him or made existing pain worse during sexual expression. Because of previous conversations about sex and what I perceive as his expressed needs, I'm contemplating taking sexual expression off the table entirely while he finishes physical therapy to see if it will help him heal without re-injury. I hurt thinking about that, but I don't know what else to do right now.


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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby txtwindad » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:40 am

A shoulder injury doesn't have to make sex painful for him. Prop him up on some pillows and get him comfortable and climb on up for WOT. There is a dizzying array of possibilities for sex. And a good number of them require no effort at all on his part. Even if he isn't too excited about sex at the moment, it is good for him. The hormones released during sex reduce pain. It can help him with depression. On and on. Sex is good and healthy and you need to keep connected even during the injury. Just think outside the box a bit about how you can please each other without hurting him.
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby Shipguy » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:54 am

We are going through this right now, as DW deals with herniated discs in her lower back. We are limited to a few low-activity low-gyration positions, so we are working out alternate entertainment while she recovers.
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby PS56 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:17 pm

I think this is a really good topic for discussion. Like Shipguy's DW, my DW is experiencing some lower back pain also, related to a herniated disc that she had surgically repaired about 15 years ago. It's been bothering her for about 6 months now. This means that some positions we have used for various sexual activities (some of my favorites) cause her discomfort, or she cannot even get in that position. So this takes certain things off the table for now. At the same time, I am concerned that even more "basic" positions might hurt her a bit. I try to ask her frequently if she is hurting, and she tells me what is comfortable and what is not, but sometimes I am concerned that on occasion she is "grinning and bearing it" to some extent.

The other problem is that dealing with this type of issue can tend to reduce one's libido, on both ends. That is, when you are in pain, you often might not feel like sex, which is understandable. And when your spouse is in pain or potentially in pain from sexual acts, you tend to have less desire for sex (at least that's my experience), and it is easy to be distracted from your enjoyment of the activity by constant concern that your spouse is uncomfortable.

I think it takes some time to work through these issues, and really good communication. An important factor is the degree of pain involved and the extent to which it limits activity. But even if pain substantially limits some or most types of sexual activities, I think it is important for a couple to do what they can to have some type of regular sex of some form, for all the reasons that we have discussed elsewhere on this forum.

I'll be interested to hear other people's thoughts and how they deal with this. It certainly can be an adjustment.

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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby Shipguy » Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:24 pm

PS56 wrote:And when your spouse is in pain or potentially in pain from sexual acts, you tend to have less desire for sex (at least that's my experience), and it is easy to be distracted from your enjoyment of the activity by constant concern that your spouse is uncomfortable.


Exactly.
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby ng95901 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:26 pm

I think that this is a tough question to answer because pain manifests itself in many ways. Chronic pain comes in many forms and it is one that I am very familiar with. I suffered a work place injury nearly two decades ago that resulted in me being afflicted with a chronic nerve pain that falls under the category of causalgia. If you look at the McGill pain index shown below, you will see that very few things rank much higher on the chart.

http://tuum-est.com/MEDICALJUSTICE/McGill.html

You will note that the condition RSD ranks a 42 on that chart and it is one that is considered the most painful chronic disease that is known. I have RSD. This said, sexual expression was not always an easy endeavor and it can be rather complicated when your spouse can read your emotional and physical state when trying to determine whether or not to engage in sexual activity. My wife adopted the stance early on in the road to recovery that if she felt that I was in severe pain, she would not ask for nor would she pursue me for sexual release. She simply went without. And quite frankly, there were times that I simply could not help her in this regard when I was in the early stages of my disease. But as it progressed, I felt that it was my duty to read her emotional and physical state to gauge her need for sex and no matter how I felt, I decided that I must meet that need despite my condition. There are days that the pain overwhelms me and I can only grit my teeth to get through it, but if my wife has a need, I will not let her go unfulfilled if I can possibly help it. Now this may mean that traditional PIV is off the table and instead manual or oral stimulation is instead the main course. But in the end, her needs are met in the most giving and loving way that I can. I can also say that after taking this stance in regards to her physical needs, I made a discovery with regard to my own physical condition; in short I found that during the moments that we are engaged in any type of sexual activity, the degree and severity of my pain immediately lessens for a duration of time afterward. So in a sense by taking care of her needs, I am then given a short respite from my condition and it is often enough to allow me to fall asleep without having to sedate myself or take a large dosage of oral pain medications of which I have plenty. Needless to say, there is often some type of activity initiated by one of us before bedtime because we know that it will be a benefit to both of us in many ways. But getting to this point was not easy. Any battle with chronic pain or debilitating injury is a tough road to navigate. For me the best analogy I can give is that it is at times like a boxing match. There are days that I am hanging on the ropes at the mercy of my condition and there are days I am standing toe to toe fighting for all I am worth. But I keep pressing and I try to never to get so wrapped up in my own condition that I forget about my wife and her needs....
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby seeker12 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:43 pm

Indeed, chronic pain is difficult to navigate in the MB. Because of her chronic pain and other health issues has made my DW's life more difficult, I now just defer to her for initiating sex and this is why we now have sex once a month or less. It makes me very sad and breaks my heart that my DW has to deal with all her health issues. ::bh

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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby robin » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:39 pm

I have been living with chronic pain for almost 12 years now including four attempts at surgical correction all of which have failed. I have two linear feet of scars and have periods where I have to resort to medication which I hate.
Since pain radiates down my leg all day every day and that is right where my scars there is no possible way that sex can be accomplished without affecting my pain level. It feels great in the moment but I pay for it afterward no matter how gentle or rough we are.

And you know what? It doesn't matter. We still have sex every other day, every day when I can manage it and I have yet to have a single interlude with my husband that I regret or that I think "Oh that wasn't worth it". I know I'm going to hurt anyway but I also know that the connection I feel from sex, the connection dh feels from sex, the strength it brings to our marriage and the obvious satisfaction of our biological drives make it worth it. And I can say with complete certainty that sex helps with the pain. The hormones and chemicals released during orgasm are good for my brain and body and I do far better with an active sex life than without it.

Like you my dh had struggled repeatedly with not wanting to initiate when I am in gritting my teeth, haven't slept in days, not going ten feet from a heating pad or ice pack or I am constantly rubbing at my back or leg kind of pain. I can't hide it from him as he can see it in my eyes and in how my body moves. He has been hesitant to initiate during those times and we've had some wicked fights about that because I want to be more to my husband than my dignosis and the wife he has to walk on eggshells around because her body let her down. I refuse to allow our lives to come to that. I want him to feel free to be honest about his needs and if it's truly one of the rare days where I just can't I appreciate the freedom my husband gives me to say so and those are the days where manual or oral has to be an acceptable option which he accepts graciously. Last year I had a week where I was in a bad bad state and I explained I needed a week off, a first for us where it's been my choice. Turned out I only made it three days but when we did it was one of those "get me to verge by other means, then get me to O, then we will switch to something quick and low impact to get you there then it needs to over" kind of things. Not the hottest, not the most romantic but satisfying in an "I will ALWAYS be there for you" on both our parts kind of way.

This might not be the most encouraging post given your dh and his sex drive. But I do want to assure you that if you deal with the sex drive that communication and trust cab get you the rest of the way through having a thriving sex life with someone with chronic pain.

I will be praying for you.

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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby Rescued » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:55 pm

My wife has suffered with chronic pain since her teens (now into her fifties). I married her knowing that. It affects our sex in the areas of frequency, positions, and how "rough" it can be.

I don't care. I have had to adjust and make a number of sacrifices to make our sex life work. I don't care. God has given me the most beautiful girl in the world and it's a small sacrifice for me to make.

I'm not saying that to flatter her. She never ever has read this forum, she won't even know I said this!

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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby TheHubby » Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:12 pm

Where there's a will there's a way.

My wife has fibromyalgia, which means oral and manual are off the table unless she wants to be in extra pain for days. Sometimes she's in pain but is still willing to have sex. Sometimes it's too painful and we have to stop.

LIS, don't feel like a heel for wanting sex. It's not wrong.
This too shall pass...
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby LoveIsSweet » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:11 pm

robin wrote:This might not be the most encouraging post given your dh and his sex drive. But I do want to assure you that if you deal with the sex drive that communication and trust cab get you the rest of the way through having a thriving sex life with someone with chronic pain.

I will be praying for you.


Thank you, robin. And thanks to everyone for your honest replies.

I don't know what to do about his sex drive. If he feels it is low or out if whack, he doesn't appear to be bothered by that. I'm really hurting and feeling undesirable/distasteful to him. The physical pain component adds to the problem, but I'm glad to hear that a healthy sexual relationship is possible for couples who've figured out their drives/needs.

We/I are really struggling. Some of it is the physical pain, but I'm realizing more and more how emotional pain is a factor for both of us, possibly more than the physical right now, as bad as the physical is. I'm feeling raw, and I hurt him terribly last night by my reaction to something he said. I have made a lot of negative assumptions about my husband and his desire for me, things which seem accurate to me from experience before and after his injury, but which may not be true and about which we have failed to talk about in depth (a discussion for another thread).

Keep the thread going--I do believe this is an important subject to address for Christian couples.


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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby Deelmo » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:24 pm

I've had rotater cuff surgery. It is very painful. For a very long time. And then just when I was feeling a little better, PT started. And that was torture. My DW decided to let me do the initiating when I felt like it. Like you, she didn't want me to be in worse pain. What I found helped the most was when we had sex, I put the sling and restraint back on to keep my arm supported. It put a damper on variety, but did lessen the pain.
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Re: Sexual Expression When Your Spouse Is In Pain

Postby Highlander » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:58 pm

This is what I'm dealing with now. We're both working (see my other thread). I take pain meds daily to offshoot the effects of three herniated discs pinching a nerve that runs down my dominant arm/hand (right). DW has a tendency to curve her shoulders in, which I'm convinced has led to shoulder pain. She's going to the Physical Therapist soon, but in the meantime comes home with pain. She wants her shoulder rubs...but leaves me hangin'....and going stir crazy.

I feel like a heel for wanting something that as a married man I shouldn't have to beg for (and neither should she have to beg for it from me, and honestly she's never had to!)...but I'm frustrated to the max! I don't think it's just all that important to her...

ugh.

HL
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