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How to have a close relationship without sex

wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
Hi, Can you help. I've been married for 46 years and always got on well with MOH but recently we've started to argue over little things. For example he will swear blind he's said something when he hasn't or said something twice when I know he's wrong. Usually I back down to keep the peace but today I didn't and we had a blazing row during which he accused me of having Dementia and telling me to go to the Doctor to get sorted out. I am physically disabled and my husband sees himself as my carer. He is also carer to a grown up adopted son who has mental health problems and lives nearby. However he seems to cope with all this quite well and I think the problems we are having are due to recently having trouble with sex. He makes out it's because I'm "always ill" and then I hit back with "it's not just me" as he has trouble achieving an erection we think is a side effect to blood pressure tablets. I am OK with this but need a loving relationship with physical contact but he has always associated showing affection with sex and without it you have to avoid any sort of contact apart from a quick peck on the lips to say good night. We sleep in separate rooms for practical reasons. Firstly how should I react to a petty argument and how can I get him to realize that a close, loving relationship isn't all about sex?

Replies

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 7,732Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @wildlife I am sorry to hear you are having a tough time, I think that relationships can be tough at the best of times but adding in added pressures of illness or disability can put extra strain on couples.

    Do you talk openly about these issues? In my experience, nothing gets any better without honest and frank discussions, it can be really tough to do but it is often worth it.  When we don't talk to our partners, we make assumptions on what they are thinking and how they are feeling.

    There is some great information from Relate about how to talk to your partner that might help.

    Regarding closeness and intimacy without sex, it can of course be achieved, but I think that may come after you have sorted out the other issues within a relationship.

    Best of luck and thank you for such an honest post, you arent alone, I am sure lots of people have similar issues.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    Hi @Sam_Scope, Thank-you so much for replying. As you've probably gathered I have no problem with talking things through but MOH does have a problem with any conversation that touches on feelings or is abstract in any way. He just sticks to every day things that have to be done. He has just come in so will finish this later.. 
  • PSHEexpertPSHEexpert Posts: 168Volunteer community adviser Pioneering
    Hi @wildlife - just to echo what Sam said, really; first, I'm so sorry that you're having a rough time.  That must be really difficult for both of you and it sounds like things feel a bit pressurised at the moment, which will make reconnecting hard.  I second the suggestion for finding a way to communicate positively with each other - the Relate advice is really good, you both need to be able to say how you're feeling about things.

    I wondered if your husband have any support with his caring role?  Although you explain he has always managed that side without any problems, perhaps that might be something to consider?
    - Gill 
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    @PSHEexpert He is with carer support and has a card with a number on in case anything happens to him when someone will come to help, but no support other than that. I had an assessment yesterday for my mental health symptoms after experiencing many traumatic events from different sources since I was 18 and I'm now 66. I was able to talk about this and apparently I have Complex PTSD or Trauma and am being referred to a Psychologist. I have always been quite open about my feelings but MOH, who went through most of the same things with me has also been affected but in a different way. He had a rough childhood too when his Father left his Mother with 4 young children. He was 11 and the eldest. I understand this and have always made allowances for the hurt he must have felt at that time. He is very clever but left school early to earn money and allow his siblings to achieve more than he ever did. We have brought up 2 adopted sons with disabilities and dealt with lots of aggressive, challenging behaviour. We also had a family business that went into liquidation and lost everything in 2009. All our married life we've had problems to solve with all our attention focussed on other people or animals as we have a dog and foster for The Cinnamon Trust. The last 6/7 years have been relatively quiet as we are now settled in a council bungalow. However it's now that all the trauma is taking it's toll at least where I'm concerned physically and mentally as I also had a bad car crash in 2003 ending up side down trapped in my car. I'm Ok about getting help but it's no use asking my hubby to talk to anyone about himself especially his feelings. Football yes ! but if I try to start a conversation he'll just ignore me or change the subject. I know there's no easy answer to all this and if we argue it never lasts but we never talk about the underlying cause of any conflict. What I need is to break away from everyday routine we've created for ourselves, as much as my physical condition will allow, and will suggest we have a day out which we very rarely do. It wouldn't wipe away all the things in the past but would help make the present more bearable..  
  • booky63booky63 Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi, because my Cerebral Cortex is affected and that deals with the emotions, I don't recognise or have the feelings that you're supposed to have. Literally no feeling at all, missed all my milestones and don't recognise love or feel love, so makes everything else impossible; but it's how my particular brain damage presents. Sadly, It's taken me until the age of 54 to find all of this out, because I only found out about my diagnosis at the age of 46 when my mum died, although I was diagnosed at the age of 2. I do think anyone can be close without the sex, but there has to be understanding and a need for couples to want to work together on an emotional level. Not knowing has been a learning curve for me, it still is because I don't yet have all my answers, but feel I'm getting there. It's massively important to have understanding. It what gels the relationship together.
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    @booky63, Do you have a partner as it's not clear from your post? It must be really tough not having feelings or emotions although it depends whether they're good or bad. I had an Aunt I was really close to who had all the normal feelings and emotions but never got married so her life was very sad but in a different way. I think we have to play down what we can't do or feel as in your situation and work with what we've got. You can enjoy the company of others, sharing activities, even just plain old communication and build a relationship that way. It's just a different sort of relationship. Things have improved for me since I started this discussion but only partly so the little arguments have stopped. As my legs are getting worse and using a walking stick is difficult due to a problem with my hand MOH has to support me when we're out which is one sort of physical contact. I think what has happened to us was the end of the youthful very physical relationship and we didn't know how to adapt, but as time goes on we're building back up slowly to just being comfortable doing other things together.
               I can identify with you in a way as my vagus nerve was damaged during keyhole surgery and I never feel hungry. No feeling whatsoever. Meal times would come and go and I wouldn't know except I have to eat to stay alive. But I can still taste the food so all is not lost. Good luck to you I hope you can work with what you've got as it were and enjoy life despite what is missing..
  • booky63booky63 Posts: 10Member Listener
    Thanks Wildlife. I appreciate that. I get you. Yes, I have a husband and it's difficult for him to because we both came into the marriage not knowing what was wrong with me. It's taken me 8 years to know as much as I have since finding out at 46 and I'm still learning about my disability. It's not been fair on him but my blog, which I've been doing for 7 years now, helps put a lot of what I deal with into perspective. Things are getting better for us emotionally, but we can never have what other couples have because I fundamentally lack physical feeling. As we get older we have to relate in different ways and that's not altogether bad. I think sometimes we must bring acceptance on the concept of having to adapt to new change as we age as well.
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    @booky63 may I quote you when you say "we can never have what other couples have" that reminds me of another huge thing missing in my life as I couldn't have children. I have an image in my head of how wonderful this must be. I imagine you must think the same about being able to feel emotional. However there are so many who, for whatever reason have the physical ability to feel emotion but can't show it. Sometimes it is so supressed that they can't even feel it as to do so may lead to them being hurt if this has happened in the past. Or maybe they weren't shown as a child how to be close to anyone. it's also a generation thing with the young people of today openly showing affection. My son and future daughter-in-law always say "Love you" when they finish on the phone. My son does the same to me and I usually reply "and I do you" as I find it hard to say due to my upbringing. My mother smothered me with physical hugs and kisses with no words which I eventually rejected in my teens from pure embarrassment and my Father was a POW for 4 years which damaged him so he couldn't show affection. So it's not just a physical thing but very much depends on life experiences. Oh that everyone in the world could learn to love each other...     
  • booky63booky63 Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi @wildlife - I agree... you have just described my mum. I know she loved her children, she couldn't show or talk about her emotions enough to smother us with love. I remember having to ask her whether she loved me. I'm not sure how old I was, but I remember where I was and remember that conversation as if we'd had it today. I vowed that if I was able to become a mum I would parent differently and feel I have achieved that. I tell my children all the time I love them and they say the same back. I am so sorry you weren't able to have children. How have you managed to reconcile that? You sound one very strong person. I tend to think that what I haven't had I don't miss. I'm quite lucky to be where I am, because my Cerebral Palsy is mild and I get to live my life. My husband struggles, because not only does he feel he's missed out on a close intimate relationship, but not knowing I had Cerebral Palsy going into the marriage, he's had a lot to come to terms with because it's like coming to get to know yourself for the first time. That changes a person. Sadly, unless we feel loved and have the confidence and self-esteem to back up the love we get, it's easy to reject that love. Although our father when we were children told us he loved us, there were too many conditions attached to his parenting, and sadly he had narcissist tendencies too; so that didn't work out. On another note, I just wanted to say I'm so sorry that you've not been able to have children. I'm here for you if you want to talk about.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
    edited August 2017
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • wildlifewildlife Posts: 1,316Member Pioneering
    @booky63 I was a registered child minder years ago and we started fostering when the social services wouldn't accept us for adoption as I'd recently been in hospital. Eventually we adopted 2 boys, one as a baby and one a toddler so I didn't miss out on parenting. They both had disabilities so it wasn't easy but things have settled down now they're older. One has a partner and we have a grandson, but the other has LD and Mental Health issues. He's put me through H*** and back. He's stable ATM but only because MOH looks after him daily. He doesn't live with us as I couldn't cope as seeing him even brings back horrific memories of aggressive behaviour during his teens and early 20's. 
    @DannyMoore  Part of the problem, without going into detail is the different in how men and women function as regards sex. Please tell me there are men out there who can hug a woman without needing to take it further.    
  • booky63booky63 Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi @wildlife - I'm pleased you didn't get to miss out on your parenting, although I appreciate it must have been difficult raising two disabled boys. I feel your pain, having struggled in my own childhood and going through a different hell, around abuse and having to deal with not knowing what my own disability was; living in the dark for 46 years.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 689 Listener
    edited August 2017
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • booky63booky63 Posts: 10Member Listener
    @DannyMoore - I understand where you're coming from. Yes, we're all different, we want and need different things. You don't have to explain.
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