MY HUSBAND and I have been happily married for 7 years. We are both in our mid-thirties with 2 sons aged 10 and 13. I have a well paying job. Our children are doing very well in School and have many friends.
Our happily married life has been slowly but surely declining. It started two years ago when my husband was involved in a car crash that saw him in hospital for six months.
He lost his job and was put on full term disability. This affected his self esteem and finances gravely since he had a high paying corporate job and was very independent.
I must say I’m very proud of my husband and how he handled his pain and other challenges positively. He took his medications and kept his doctor and therapist’s appointments, as I juggled between taking care of him, dropping and picking the children to and from school, helping with their homework, preparing dinner and other chores.
That is until two months ago, when he suddenly stopped his meds. He got moody and announced that instead of medication and doctor’s visits he wants to have sex with me to replace his treatment. My husband has been nudging me to have prescriptive sex with him. He wants sex twice a day on weekdays and three doses a day on weekends. He is adamant that is the only way he will get well. We have not had sex for two years.
Hubby has not recovered fully and his doctor says he must continue physiotherapy and meds if he is to improve and get out of his wheelchair, if at all. I am both mentally and physically exhausted and cannot take this anymore. I still love my husband. Please help me before I go mad.
Dear committed wife.
First I want to commend you for your devotion to your husband, your children and your marriage. Trauma can cause a major shift in one’s life and marriage but it need not break you.
Being a caregiver, especially to a loved one is not easy. Remember that you are not a super woman. You are human and can only do so much. Caregivers sometimes get caught up in the mix and forget that they cannot provide good care unless they take a break and care for themselves. Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for extra help from family, friends, church community and the social care services.
You have mentioned how intensively your husbands treatment has been but you have not mentioned how you have been taking care of yourself.
Have you explored other ways in which you could get support? Caregiving can be both physically and mentally exhausting, especially when you are also keeping a full time job.
You say that you have a well paying job. Could you try bringing in a caregiver to take care of your husband in the day while you are at work? You could also ask the children to help with basic house chores on weekends so that you have time for your husband.
Your husband seems to have lost his self esteem and status. Being jobless, dependent and vulnerable can be hard when one has been earning their own money and been on the go. It may lead to depression and a sense of helplessness. It is traumatic.
Your family is in for a major adjustment. It would be important to have an honest talk with your husband and share how you truly feel. You may be surprised what happens when all the feelings are laid on table and you no longer have to pretend with each other.
Perhaps your husband feels that he needs to prove to you that he is a man. It is an ego thing. He may also be sexually starved and so are you but he has to be reasonable about it.
Making love on the wheelchair may not be such a bad idea. The health benefits of sex cannot be underestimated. Sex keeps the immune system humming like a happy bird, boosts your libido, improves women bladder control, lowers your blood pressure, counts as exercise, lowers heart attack risk, lessens pain and makes prostrate cancer less likely. Men who have regular sex are 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease. Some of the chemicals released during sex may help you to fall asleep, which I believe you both need.
Communications is the best way to go. Explain to him that your schedule may not allow for prescriptive sex but you are willing to be intimate again. Seek family therapy and indulge in more self care as well as group activities in these six categories: emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, practical, social. Take him out to the groceries so he can participate in the shopping, watch good movies together, do a gratitude and forgiveness journal, plant a family tree and water it in turns, read together, clean up, call in on friends or relatives or host at home.
It is never as bad as it seems. All the best as we wait for your feedback.