Chronic Illness & Intimacy: The Struggle

Chronic illness changes everything

When the discussion of intimacy has occurred between myself and my girlfriends; I’ve undoubtedly been pegged “the go to”. I am so comfortable talking to, my sisters from another mister about the topic because I absolutely know how important intimacy is in a marriage. And when I say intimacy I don’t mean just sex; I mean the entire package of what intimacy includes.

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These days though, I’ve been a bit more silent because I literally have not been myself. If you follow me on Instagram or read my blog then you know that reason is that I’m dealing with two different chronic illnesses.

Pain has a strange way of changing a person into a former shell of who they once were. Now I don’t intend to remain in this current state of an empty shell, as I am actively working on bettering myself. However, I have to acknowledge all the different facets of my changes, and intimacy is one of them.

Intimacy with my husband is as natural as oxygen

Under normal circumstances; my husband and I are really affectionate with one another, and he’s never had to lack in the area of fun in the bedroom. However, these days, I am so out of touch with my body due to pain that I find myself grimacing at the thought of touch. And like I said, not sex, but touch!

Intimacy is defined as: close familiarity, or friendship, closeness; a private cozy atmosphere

And really that is how I would define my relationship with my husband; intimate, a closeness, a cozy atmosphere. He literally embodies home for me.

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The reality of chronic illness has sunk in

Most days I’m so spent from having to walk, when I come home the only thing I want to do is lay down and literally not get up again. But I still have to maintain my mom duties and take care of and interact with the kids, as well as keep some semblance of order in my home. As most of you can imagine, that takes ENERGY.

By the time all is said and done I feel like I’m on death’s door. Usually, hubby and I hug and kiss at random around the house, and we cuddle heavy before bed. I yearn for his touch because it is familiar and loving.

These days though, I can’t see myself the way he sees me. He still caresses me and calls me beautiful and tells me how attracted he is to me and inside I’m screaming what is wrong with you?! And sometimes, sometimes I even say it out loud. How could he love my body while it’s betraying me?

And this has caused me to feel awkward in moments that used to be fluid between us. And then a guilt sets in because it’s literally not him; it’s all me.

What once was effortless between us now requires my effort.

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It’s not the end of the marriage; it’s a rebirth

And that folks, is how chronic illness can affect intimacy. If you are not careful you could lose the connection you truly need as you persevere through your struggle.

I recognized that I was withholding my acts of affection because I was so wrapped up in my pain. I was allowing my own interpretation of my body’s weakness affect how I thought my husband thought of me. And I was losing out on precious moments I needed to help rejuvenate my spirit.

No marriage is perfect, but in my eyes my husband is as close to perfection in a mate that I can get. And that’s why it is so important to make sure I am nurturing that intimate connection between us.

I have no idea where this battle with my body is going to take us on our life journey; but I sure feel like intimacy on every level is important.

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So how about you, how do you maintain intimacy while fighting chronic illness?

AP Young signature with kiss print.