My Chronic Illness Doesn't Mean We Can't Still Be Intimate

Being chronically ill with a condition such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or chronic pain can make intimacy difficult. I’ve talked to a lot of women who struggle with this issue, and here are some of the things that most of them said would help.

Dear Husband,

I miss the physical relationship we used to have. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and here are some things that could make it better.

If the doctor has said that I can’t be physical, please be patient with me. I need to put all of my energy into getting better. With that being said, there are many other ways we can be physically intimate. As long as I’m not nauseated or super-sick, I’d love to spend time figuring out how far we can go.

I know you can be afraid you’ll hurt me, but go slowly, and everything will be OK. Keeping our physical relationship going is important to me and important to our marriage.  I need that connection just as much as you do, but sometimes I need extra help getting there.

Here are some things that will help me relax. With so much to do, I don’t have time to focus on being well, and I also can’t focus on you.

Think of my needs as extended foreplay. Trust me, I’ll be in the mood when I can think about you and not a long list of chores.  This way I can relax with you.  It’s a win-win.

I do really want to focus on you.

Here’s what I need from you.

Keep the trust between us. It is the most important thing in our marriage. I can’t totally relax with you if I don’t trust you.

Please don’t ask me how I feel if I look miserable. The answer will be that I feel miserable, and I don’t like complaining.

Please don’t ask me what you can do to help.  That question frustrates me. I ask you instead to look around and take care of the things that you see need to be done. Surprise me!

When you ask what’s for dinner, I may not know yet. You can help me by picking up dinner or groceries on the way home.

Maybe we can plan dinners for the whole week, and you can help me get the groceries. Then I have one less thing to worry about, and I can fix meals much more easily.

If we have kids, please take them out sometimes. I love them so much, but I need more time to myself to relax than I used to. I will be in a much better mood when you get home.

Look around our room. Is it a mess? I’m much more likely to relax and be calm, comfortable, and willing if I have a nice bedroom to be in with you. Pick it up for us, please.

Plan some romance. Even if I’m walking around in sweats, with messy hair and no makeup, I still want romance. I need it, it’s part of who I am. Are you wondering what to do? Think to when we were dating. Choose something you would have done then. I’ll really appreciate it.

Set time aside for us to just be us! Let’s have time with no TV, no phone, and no outside commitments —  just a total focus on the two of us. We will naturally be a lot closer, emotionally and physically, if we make more time for ourselves.

I would love it if you and I could get away for a while to re-focus on our physical relationship. With all of my medical bills, that might not be financially possible, but maybe we could plan some evenings of candlelight and soft music in our cozy, clean bedroom.

Understand that I might not be the same as I used to be, but I still need to hear the things you love about me. Sometimes I feel very out of control with the things happening in my body. I need to hear that you are committed to me through it all, and that you still find me beautiful. I need reassurance more than you think. I’m tough, a lot tougher than I ever thought possible, but with your support I can both be tough and find my happy, fun, sexy side again.

I love you, more than you know. My face may look irritated, but that’s just the pain talking. I’m looking forward to showing you my love.

From Your Loving Wife

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by YakobchukOlena

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

Woman grocery shopping in a supermarket with text what grocery shopping can be like when you have a chronic illness

What Grocery Shopping Can Be Like When You Have a Chronic Illness

Grocery shopping may not be an Olympic sport, but for many people living with chronic illnesses, it can feel like one. Pushing a cart, walking around the story and lifting heavy items can lead to exhaustion and pain, while crowds, parking lots and harsh lighting can cause a sensory overload. We asked our Mighty community with [...]
Hamster in a wheel

My Husband Called Me a Hamster, and I Agree With Him

My husband and I are constantly making jokes, puns, or just spouting heavy sarcasm at home. The subject doesn’t matter, as we can find a way to make most situations funny. It can get morbid on occasion, but that’s how we work. I have no doubts my husband takes my diseases very seriously and the [...]
two women holding hands

To the Woman Who Loves Me and My Chronic Illness

When we met I was newly diagnosed and spent the better part of my days between hospital beds and my couch. Just a few months prior, my whole world had been turned upside down. I was forced to withdraw from college, forfeit my dream internship, and move home to my parent’s house. Not only was [...]
female patient laying in a hospital bed and talking to her doctor

The Importance of Knowing Your Rights as a Patient

When I first began seeking medical help for variety of issues, I began to experience doctors who were very dismissive of me (citing everything from age to weight to existing health issues), would not refer me for evaluation with specialists, refused to order x-rays or ultrasounds to investigate the possible root of my symptoms or prescribed drugs [...]