Challenges of Sex and Illness

Part 1 of a 3-part series of articles by Carrie about Sex and Serious Illness

This past July 2011, Jim and I celebrated 29 wonderful years of marriage! Honestly, with each passing year, our relationship has grown deeper and more intimate! I feel cherished by Jim as he consistently expresses his sacrificial love for me. Jim would admit that our sexual intimacy has developed to a level that helps meet his need for physical touch and intimacy. Jim and I have already begun dreaming about our 30th anniversary in 2012 expecting that our love for each other will have blossomed more than ever before!

Fast forward two months to September 7, 2011
That day we were blindsided by a serious medical emergency. At 9 am that morning, without any warning, I collapsed due to severe brain hemorrhaging and, within 2 days, underwent an 8-hour brain surgery!

Following the surgery, I had a 3-week hospital stay at a hospital 2 hours from our home. I was grateful that Jim was able to spend a lot of time with me at the hospital, but our relationship had to take a major adjustment! We missed:
Carrie, 2 days after brain surgery
  • private conversations
  • laughing together
  • cuddling and having sex
  • sharing passionate kisses
  • and all the personal expressions of intimacy that we would normally share together

Was our marriage going to suffer because of my serious illness? No! Jim and I weren’t going to settle for that! How we prevented that from happening is what we want to share with you.

Challenges: The doctors told me not to expect to go back to work for 3 months. I should expect to be fatigued and need daily naps to help regain my strength. How were Jim and I to begin the road back to the level of marital intimacy we enjoyed just 2 months prior? The fact was that my recovery was going to take time. Even now, the incision on my head is still sensitive. I am cautious whenever I move my head and neck. I don’t have the strength and stamina I used to have.

Jim and I will be sharing a few keys that we have and are learning on this difficult journey we’ve just embarked on 2 months ago. Of course, we hope you’ll never go through an experience like ours nor need to use the advice we will be sharing!

It is important for couples to be prepared for the difficult times of life. Unfortunately, many couples face serious illness or some other tragedy without being equipped to navigate the difficulty together without their marriage becoming a casualty through it all.

Look for practical tips in part 2 of this series of articles. (If you know of a couple facing physical difficulties, please share these articles with them!)

This is part 1 of a series of articles on sex and illness.

Read part 2 here.

Read part 3 here.