As willing as our society seems to be in speaking openly about many topics, talking about sex is still a topic many people shy away from. There are many reasons; embarrassment, shame and even blame. Yet sex is a natural part of being human and without it life wouldn’t go on.
When my husband Keith became impotent from prostate cancer at the age of 49, he too, didn’t want to talk about it nor did he want anyone to know of his condition. He felt emasculated and humiliated and he felt his ability to engage and enjoy sex was over.
Sex had been an important part of our marriage. Making love was how we celebrated a happy occasion, offered comfort during times of sorrow, and was an affirmation of our love for one another. When we stopped making love our marriage began to weaken. We started bickering, picking on each other, and ultimately we stopped touching all together. It was obvious our marriage was not going to survive if we didn’t do something different.
As a writer I searched bookstores for books written by couples who had gone through a similar situation. I wanted to know what other couples did to remain sexually active when one’s sexual ability had been compromised. How did they continue to make love when intercourse wasn’t possible? How did they cope with the emotional and mental trauma? I wanted specifcs – details – stories – from others who had experienced what we were facing. But there was nothing on the shelves. No one, it seemed, was willing to talk about real life sexual dysfunction.
Frustrated, I vowed if we ever ‘made it through’ I would tell our story. And I did just that. Our book MAKING LOVE AGAIN, Hope for Couples Facing Loss of Sexual Intimacy tells the good, the bad, and the ugly of how Keith and I regained and re-framed our lovemaking. It was released in 2002 and has been reprinted three times.
Naively, I thought Keith and I were ‘healed’ when I finished writing the book, but life has a way of continuously challenging us to be ‘life long learners.’ During the past twenty years Keith has had two more cancers which required surgery, I have had cancer surgery, a hysterectomy, and am now dealing with memory issues. We have experienced the loss of our parents, a young grandson and many friends. And of course we have aged. Every one of these events has affected our intimacy in some aspect. In fact, Keith and I believe anytime a person experiences a major change in their life, medically or otherwise, their intimacy is affected in some manner and for some period of time, perhaps even permanently.
Still, even twenty years later, talking about sex and intimacy is a topic that remains difficult to discuss openly—even between partners. And this brings me to the purpose and intent of this blog.
I hope my essays about sexual dysfunction, intimacy, and aging, will inspire others to keep touching, embracing, exploring, and enjoying intimacy – throughout their lives and to be creative and playful.
I hope my and Keith’s experience will help others realize intimacy can continue througout one’s lifetime – without or without intercourse – and can be extremely satisfying.
And finally, I hope to offer assurance that while we all walk different paths there is much of our journey’s landscape that is similar. And there is great comfort and healing in knowing we aren’t alone.
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