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Old 11-05-2011, 05:22 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Originally Posted by OhSnap View Post
In 2008 my wife suffered from a stroke. This has caused the left half of her body to become completely paralysed. It's been a very rough couple of years and we've gone through many changes, but we have managed to find some semblance of normalcy.

For the first 2 years, the lack of sex was never really an issue. I've had so much to do that it was one of the last things on my mind. It's just that I've started missing it since the beginning of this year.

I've discussed this with my wife and she believes that setting up an arrangement with one of our closest friends is the solution. She thinks that this is the safest option since her friend and I are trustworthy and STD-free, and she's known us both for most of her life. Her friend is a little bit nervous but is okay with the idea as long as my wife and I approve.

Here's why I don't believe that this will help, and why I have decided not to go through with the arrangement...

I don't miss the physical aspect of sex. Physical gratification has never been important to me, and is something that I can easily live without.

I miss the emotional aspect of sex. I'm a very physical person, meaning that I like to show and share affection and care through kisses, hugs, holding hands, cuddling in bed etc. For me, sex is a very good way to emotionally bond.

This is something that I've been finding difficult to articulate verbally to my wife, and I don't have anybody to talk to about this in my life (other than a counsellor, who hasn't been very helpful). I don't really have any unmet needs per se. I don't feel emotionally lonely and I don't believe that another relationship will make me any happier. I don't miss sex, in itself (if that makes sense) but I do miss having sex with my wife. That is why I have been apprehensive to starting a relationship with our friend.

I can understand why my wife has built a bit of a wall around herself, and has become physically closed off. It isn't my intention to pressure her into doing something that she doesn't want to do.

My wife will also be reading this, so if anyone has any direct advice for her, that would be great.
The love between you is so obvious. She wants to make sure you are happy and have your needs met. You miss your wife intimately and want to make her happy. Because of this love and caring, you two are way ahead in figuring out how to make each other happy and continue growing your marriage, whether that relationship ultimately includes other people sexually or not.

I would suggest finding another counselor for you, OhSnap, and maybe your wife. Sometimes counselors just don't work out. If your wife finds the counselor is helping her, then find someone just for you.

I also suggest finding a sex therapist that is familiar with and used to dealing with issues of sexuality and severe injury. You and your wife are certainly not alone in dealing with paralysis and sexuality. There must be therapists with experience in helping folks in your same situation. I suggest checking out AASECT - The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. They are at: http://www.aasect.org/. Plus, if y'all do go the non-monogamy route, these folks are less likely to be judgmental about that.

Also, have you or she looked at the Five Love Languages? (If you google that term, the book will come up as well several online tests. There are threads about the Five Love Languages here too - it comes up often.) Knowing your love language is helpful because you can articulate to others how you feel loved and how you express love to others. The author states that people express love and want love expressed to them differently. And if you have two people with different love languages, communication issues can come up. I would bet money that you express and feel love through Physical Touch. Before her stroke, you and your wife might have been the same love language. Or maybe not. At any rate, her love language may have shifted because of the impact of the stroke - or it may not have but the situation may have moved her away from expressing love the way she would have before the stroke. Take a look at the book and the tests - it can be a useful tool to understanding each other a bit better.

It seems like non-monogamy for you is not what you want right now, and maybe ever. You miss physical intimacy with your wife (which does not automatically equate to sexual intercourse).

I am going to make some assumptions about how I think I would feel in your wife's situation. This may or may not be useful for your wife. First, a woman's sexuality, and desire, is so dependent on an almost infinite set of changing factors - hormonal interactions, stress, child care, medical problems, issues at work, emotional state, sleep and all kinds of other things. Upset those delicate interactions with severe trauma and well, I think I too would probably find it easier, and maybe necessary if only for a while, to physically close myself off. I would not feel like my body was my body but something new and unfamiliar. I might hate parts or all of that new body at least some of the time. Touch is so important to intimacy; I do not know how I would get that feeling of intimacy without being able to feel touch on large parts of my body. [I'm sure there are ways but I have trouble conceptualizing it.] Since I am restricted on what I can feel on large parts of my body, that would likely affect how the rest of my body feels and moves in small as well as larger ways. I doubt I would feel sexy at all, at least for a while. My idea of sexy would have to be completely rebuilt and reorganized. If I had problems speaking or organizing my thoughts, that would compound any and all frustrations I had.

I urge you and your wife to find someone, even if they are not expert in injury and sexuality, to talk about how to meet each other's needs and wants. You (OhSnap) are open to ways to do that that are not traditional sex (i.e. intercourse). That will help. Non-monogamy may be one way to do that - down the road after lots of other avenues have been explored.
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