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The Perfect Moments of Intimacy Since Chronic Illness Changed My Marriage

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Let’s talk about sex and intimacy — more importantly, how to keep the intimacy in your marriage that’s become more of a caregiver/patient relationship. My husband and I got married two weeks after my hysterectomy for cancer. And over the next three years, I would be diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases like lupus, Sjogren’s, psoriatic arthritis and eventually pulmonary fibrosis. In the eight years we’ve been together, our relationship has changed quite a bit.

In the beginning of our relationship, we had sex often. Over time, due to my illnesses and changing physical condition, our relationship developed into something much more intimate than sex. You may be thinking, “What’s more intimate than sex?” While sex is an important part of many relationships, there is so much more to intimacy. Intimacy, especially if one or both of you are physically incapable of sex, can become the backbone of your relationship.

You can develop routines, gestures and habits that increase the intimacy in your relationship. For example, my husband and I still hold hands while we watch TV. We take an entire evening and just listen to music and dance in the living room. We’ve turned routines that have to be performed into acts of intimacy and love. I use a shower chair and cannot take a shower alone for fear of a seizure. My husband sits with me, washes my hair and we listen to music. This creates a time of great intimacy between the two of us.

Even when I fall or am throwing up due to chemo, we take those times to be close to one another. My husband always performs these acts of need in a most loving and caring manner. We take time to do even the smallest things in a special way, like sitting in the car in the driveway and holding hands in the dark and listening to music.

The smallest acts can become a perfect moment of intimacy. We also communicate very well. We make sure to keep an open and honest dialog about everything going on in our lives, even though we don’t always agree. And I always feel comfortable telling him that I am in pain and how much pain or discomfort I have. We can talk for hours or not talk at all and just sit together. I am never ashamed of my feelings, and he always feels comfortable talking to me about any stress he’s under. We never waste an opportunity to tell each other we love each other.

All it takes is a small act to add intimacy and love to your relationship, even in life with chronic illness.

Getty image by Fizkes.

Originally published: October 28, 2019
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