Guest Post by Pamela Jessen
I’m tackling a tough topic again today – intimacy when you live with Chronic Pain. If you remember the Cheap Trick song, it’s been on my mind lately:
I want you to want me.
I need you to need me.
I’d love you to love me.
I’m beggin’ you to beg me.
How do you enjoy an active and healthy love life when you’re in pain all the time? How do you appease your partner, who may not understand what it’s like to be in pain 24/7? Even when you’ve explained it a million different ways, when it comes to talking about sex, and how painful it can be, it’s not an easy conversation, no matter how long you’ve been a couple. And your sexual orientation makes no difference either.
Intimacy is the fuel that keeps a good relationship running. It encompasses so much more than just sex. Think about the different ways it’s defined in the Thesaurus:
- the state of being intimate.
- a close, familiar and unusually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
- an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like, to allow the intimacy of using first names.
- anamorously familiar act; liberty.
- sexual intercourse.
Intimacy is also about being close emotionally. When was the last time you went on a date? When was the last time you actually sat and talked to each other ABOUT each other? Not about work or the kids, but about the two of you and how you’re doing. What’s new, what’s real, what you love about each other?
When was the last time you looked into each other’s eyes and said “I love you” and really meant it?
If you haven’t dated for a while, maybe it’s time you did. Here are 25 easy date ideas that might get you started in the right direction:
- Go to a community play,
- Do an inside or outside picnic
- Workout together
- Go roller skating or ice-skating
- Movie marathon with ice cream sundaes
- Play hide and seek in a cornfield (or the woods)
- Go on a walk around your neighbourhood in the evening
- Go to estate sales together
- Make a romantic dinner at home
- Build something together
- Go bowling
- Go hiking!
- Find the best happy hours in town and make the appetizers your meal
- Have friends over and play board games
- Go to an antique store and talk about the past lives of old objects
- Get some thrift store tennis rackets and go to your city’s free courts
- Go to the neighbourhood pool
- Fly kites!
- Testdrive an expensive car
- Go on a tour beer, food, etc.
- Find out what tours businesses in your city offer and try one out.
- Go thrifting or garage sale-ing together
- Do a breakfast date
- Find a free (or very cheap) class and take it together
- Go to the animal shelter and pet the animals
So, once you’ve reconnected and you’re ready for sex again, the Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions when you have a partner who lives with Chronic Pain*. Sexual intercourse is just one way to satisfy your need for human closeness. Intimacy can be expressed in many different ways.
- Touch. Exploring your partner’s body through touch is an exciting way to express your sexual feelings. This can include holding hands, cuddling, fondling, stroking, massaging and kissing. Touch, in any form, increases feelings of intimacy.
- Self-stimulation. Masturbation is a normal and healthy way to fulfill your sexual needs. One partner may use masturbation during mutual sexual activity if the other partner is unable to be very active.
- Oral sex. It can be an alternative or supplement to traditional intercourse.
- Different positions. Lie side by side, kneel or sit. Look in your library or bookstore for a guide that describes and illustrates different ways to have intercourse. If you’re embarrassed to get this kind of book locally, try an online book retailer.
- Vibrators and lubricants. A vibrator can add pleasure without physical exertion. If lack of natural lubrication is a problem, over-the-counter lubricants can prevent pain from vaginal dryness.
The key factors to intimacy are trust, respect and honesty. You need to be able to trust your partner won’t push you into something you’re not physically able to do and will respect your limits. There needs to be honesty between the two of you and with yourselves as well. Don’t use your Chronic Pain as an excuse to get out of sex if it really isn’t a problem…that’s not fair to your partner. If you’re avoiding sex for another reason, then be honest. If you’re mad at your partner for something they’ve done, then say so. Tell them what and why and talk it out.
Don’t use your health to avoid other issues, because you’re simply breaking the trust and respect factors when you do that. You already have enough physical pain in your life – don’t add mental pain as well. Intimacy is too valuable a commodity to just throw away. Keep working on it, and before you know it, you’ll be building and rebuilding the relationship of your dreams. And that’s no Cheap Trick!
Note from Cultivate Expression: This post contains affiliate links and, while I do earn a small commission from any qualifying sales, it does not affect the price you pay on Amazon.
Pamela Jessen lives in Langford, BC, just outside of Victoria. She is happily married to her amazing husband Ray and they are proud parents of 2 grown kids and three wonderful grandsons. She was formerly employed as an Administrative Specialist and is also a Certified Event Planner. With her career behind her and now being on Long Term Disability, she is a blogger who writes about Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness. In addition to blogging, Pamela is an active volunteer with the Patient Volunteer Network. Outside of PVN, she has also done volunteer work for Island Health as a Patient Advisor, was on the Advisory Committee for Opioid Guidelines in Canada, and recently volunteered with the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s Busker Festival.