Same As You With A Twist: Spouse Is Ill

Hello all, I've been reading this site for awhile and can share that I too, live in a sexless marriage, much to my dismay and heartache. But while my soul longs to fly away there's definitely lots holding me here. Namely, I feel responsible for my spouse who is ill. I also have small children who would miss their daddy terribly and I cannot see not having 2 parents - he is a loving parent to them, and I definitely chose the right parent, if the wrong spouse.
My spouse is my friend, and used to be my lover too. I used to live for him, but years without sex and years before that with lots of trouble have definitely worn me down and made me feel like less than human.
I had very little experience before meeting him; it was wonderful and we got along like a house afire. But shortly after our wedding he started acting "off". It took years with escalating issues for him to finally see a doctor. He has chronic neurological issues, including extreme pain he was hiding for years. We are seeing various doctors, but things are getting worse rather than better.
In my nights I dream of running or of having an affair. I can see that we are so different now, but we were so in love before.
How can I be fully happy?
Theoretically I have never thought less of people who have "open" marriage and feel the need for one now, but don't want to be "that" person who brings heartache where there was none before, except for my own selfish need. I cannot see my spouse agreeing willfully to this concept.
As I near 40 and parts of my body shifts, I despair more and more. I have a great sex/romantic life - in my head.

ETA: my lack of experience earlier on and my lack of recent experience make it even more difficult to approach this whole issue. Even if I fantasize about an affair I'd never act on it - I would hate to look a fool and lose everything for the really wrong person....
zsuzsilowinger zsuzsilowinger
36-40, F
18 Responses Jan 10, 2012

Yep, that's why my marriage is sexless...wifes ill. Its so hard...I'd you will excuse the pun lol x

I can also empathize. My wife suffers from depression and with the awful combination of drugs that she takes to treat it, she is virtually asexual. This has been going on for 10 years

I do empathise having been my wife's family carer for over 10 years of sexless marriage. I fantasise about having a discreet affair ideally with someone in a similar situation, but have never acted on it.

My hubby has also told me he suffers fibromyalgia. Sadly his doesn't mess up until he begins to stress over a wierd stress cycle he creates. I have tried to help him avoid these cycles by giving him a heads up on consequences of things, and sending him to massage therapies etc. He used to avoid those negative things with my help and his pains eased nicely. More Recently, he has begun to find ways to stress and get sick, regardless of my attempts to help him. I cringe as I read noticeable similarities. I am convinced my husband is full of bull, even though I am also convinced he has the illness.

There are a lot questions for you to consider. Answer all of those questions with the bottom line. The marriage is broken, you are lonely, and children recover. Nothing you can do will cure your hubby, and while I sympathize with you over feeling the obligation of caring for are not obligated to fight to save a widespread unhealthy situation...this is not affecting only you.

He needs help, why not find it, help him transition into a new life that is also more healthy for him. You will feel that you have done your due diligence, and can find closure if that is what you want.


Fibromyalgia? That stuff is a major drag...but tricyclic antidepressants can help the pain as well as the crappy feelings.

So what happened? I hope the wind caught your wings just right and took you on an incredible flight. If it hasn't yet, soon it just might:)

Your story echos so much of mine...I dare not write much for fear of breaking down in tears. I used to think that my husband was using his illness as an excuse not to have sex with me. I became so angry, so bitter not only toward him but those around. His words of its not you, its me are words I could not fathom. I have started to leave many many times and I just cannot let myself be the one who left him in a crisis. However, his crisis has never ended...It has continued for well over 19 years now. <br />
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Zsu, I do oursource, I had to and I made a brave announcement that I was going to. I did not ask permission. We do not talk about our sex life or lack thereof. I have a lover who provides that. That was 5 years ago. <br />
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Leaving is a process or in my case more of a long, long journey. The destination seems more scary than staying stuck. Good Luck to you in your own journey, whereever it leads you.

a piece of advice - avoid posting under your own name. Find some pseudonym which is not recognisable by family and friends. I'd like to call you Zsuzsika, but that would be intrusive. <br />
As about illness - my girlfriend (60) is also ill. At my age, I'm not a young stallion either. In fact, I couldn't even have sex without active consent. But we help each other, we talk it through. The result is wonderful.

zsuzsilowinger is not actually my real name - you are right it's my first name in another language that you obviously recognize, but the last name is one from one of my ancestors. Unless you are VERY intimately connected to my family there's no way you know who I am...

Sue, <br />
It is not the lack of sex that makes you feel rotten. It is the lack of love.

When he is feeling well, there is a lot of love in this house. But there are certain topics that we just "ignore" - at least that's the point I've gotten to. I do think I have to stick up for myself, and I am reading all your comments. I do believe I need to tell him that while I respect his lack of need, I need more; no blame, really, just a wish to have more in life.

This is a problem I am in the middle of now. I outsourced. I had an affair that lasted 3 yrs. It made life at home bearable. The nights away were filled with the dreams I had been having for the previous 11 yrs. I found out 55... (three yrs ago)...that I was still desirable, my body still worked (after a jump pill)...basically...many insecurities were relieved.<br />
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Affairs end. I was left with a broken heart for the XGF..........and a broken heart over my broken marriage. It took complete devastation for me to make a move.<br />
There is no glory in living like this. When I took a look at it....the sexlessness is just a glaring symptom of a deeper problem. Once it brings your attention to the situation.....and you have found your way to this site......clarity and focus follow. Otherwise...complacency sets in and we stop doing the footwork (Learning of our options).<br />
What I put others needs before my own. Now I have a hard time figuring out if my wants are my needs.....(self preservation or selfishness). I have decided.....just like they tell you on a take care of myself first, then help others. Taking care of a mental, spiritual and physical balance that was/is lacking in the physical department...(spiritual and mental also).<br />
It is time to focus on my health first......then help others.<br />
I am writing up a separation agreement today. I will still live at the house and be there for her....but my cards are on the table. ......Know what?? I feel 100% better now...than I did when I joined this site (Sept., 2011). The problems are still there...(**** ..they got worse)...but I have a peace inside....that lets me know it will all work long as I do the footwork.<br />
Peace and blessings......Rusty

Just coming on here and stating what I've stated &amp; seeing the support has made my heart so much lighter. I AM NOT ALONE!!! Scared, yes. But there must be so many people around me going through the same thing.

After my X left...I asked out hotguyboyfriend...he's still hot. Anyways - he deployed last May for a tour in AFG. We were sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings and he said..."So - will you still be wanting me if I come back with a leg cut off.." I said.."of course"...he said..what if i'm paralyzed.<br />
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I put my hands on the side of his face and I said..."I'm betting your lips would still work"<br />
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He almost fell out of his chair...whent he people we love get doesn't mean the end of desire..for some probably...but not all. <br />
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But - it's not your desire that is the issue. It's his. Have you told him that you need intimacy with him? That it's not a 'nice to have"...but that you feel less human without it?

This does get to me. The fact is I know I am always last on the agenda, because he puts everyone's needs above his own, including his own sexual needs; thus feels i should too. I have begged, pleaded, cried - I'm done. Haven't told him anything in years, because he told me all my begging was turnign him off. Realized soon enough that once I stopped initiating everything stopped. Yes he still has a mouth, hands, etc. I know he does not feel well - he is actually now on disability, it has gotten so bad - but the problems are there, deeper than the disability, I think. Still I feel responsible for him.

He puts everyone's needs ahead of his own - but not yours - you just said it.

There are several posters on here who have SM due to their spouse's illness. If you look around, you will find them. They have had varying ways to addressing the problem - from an open marriage to a divorce or legal separation and still taking care of the spouse's physical needs (plus their own).<br />
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I echo MVC's advice: There is heartache already - it is yours, and it deserves some attention too. That advice resonates with me, as my H and kids want us to stay married. Yet I want to be divorced and that causes them heartache for which I feel very guilty and responsible. So, MVC's comment that your heartache is also pretty darn important - well, that is totally true! Since he is not capable of taking care of that, you will need to find a way to heal your heart. And that is the tough part. But you need to take care of yourself. And you are the one whose needs are not being met, so it will be up to you in this case to make sure they are. Consider that he is not concerned, or doesn't appear to be from your story, about your needs being met. What does that tell you?

You are very brave. I hope I can be that brave in my life one day.

Thank you, Z, but not sure it's bravery. It's more like seeing what I am becoming if I stay in this relationship, and that is scary and not what I want. So, I equate it to jumping off the high dive - I hope I survive!

If you've been reading here for a while, you should know that ill spouses are quite common here. In some ways, the "why" doesn't matter in these situations (See: Wolfy1, NowSeekingHookups, RustyRod)<br />
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I also know that at times, the ill spouse will give the caretaking spouse permission to take a recreational sex partner.<br />
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Just an option to consider.

I may get up the courage to ask. There is never a good time though.

True, that...but you know, stick around here some more, be active, begin thinking in that direction and it will come to you; you will find your words and your opportunity.

You will find in here, people who have ended up doing things that they would once "never have acted upon".<br />
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And, you won't find much in the way of 'judgement' for them having done so. <br />
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People who have 'been there' (like the membership here) understand where you are coming from.<br />
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Your choices here are all awful. Your choice to stay at this point is awful - for the reasons you are presently experiencing.<br />
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The other choice - leaving - carries its' own downside (although there is an upside once you've done it).<br />
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The band-aid affair option carries its' own negative aspects too. Not the least of which is the risk of catastrophic failure of the primary relationship at a time, and in a manner not of your choosing.<br />
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But, unfortunately, you don't get a pass on choosing. No-one does.<br />
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This boards role can be to help you make an "informed" choice. But the choice is actually YOUR responsibility.<br />
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Tread your own path.

But why are we set up like this? Theoretically in my brain i know that I should move on. But being seen as the "villian/bad guy" tears me up. I should mention my spouse's parents cheated on each other and he mentions this often as a pivotal moment. But this is craziness - the opposite is what we are living.

Hi zsuzsilowinger<br />
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I had to copy your pseudonym. No way I could copy it faithfully!<br />
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Do you feel he omitted essential information about himself before you got married or did all this illness stuff actually occur afterwards. It may appear petty to ask about the distinction but depending upon the answer entitles you to feel differently about the situation. A no-brainer really.<br />
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As for you, well if you were absolutely determined, like most women you could vamp it up and point the choicest of smiles in the right direction at the right time and you could have the most experienced, nay, cynical man, going weak at the knees desperately trying not to giggle like a teenage school boy or drooling like an idiot. As one of the species it's grim to have to report that, but it is in the genes as they say.<br />
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It's amazing what a conscious difference in attitude can do for two people who otherwise appear very similar. So, it would only be a case of whether you really want to or not. That judgement call would be yours, but no-one here is going to call foul. Well, some interfering religious zealot might. They like to every so often but they are usually seen off pretty sharply.<br />
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Here's my other piece of advice, if you do decide to do something about it see it as exploiting 'him' rather than 'him' exploiting you. The reality is of course something else altogether; a naughty collaboration maybe, but a positive state of mind can take you an awful long way. So, how about it, do you think you can consciously con yourself? Is it worth having a crack at?<br />
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Well, ultimately, I am not encouraging you to have that affair but even if you just push the boundaries of those dreams a bit further, what the hell!

Thank you also for your reply.
I've never been comfortable flirting, or with men liking me. I'm the type to run &amp; hide, which I'm sure most people think of as "stand offish". I took a huge chance when I met my spouse in exposing myself to him. I can trace this back to an abusive mother, I think; or maybe unwanted sexual interest when I was young; or maybe it's personality; it's gonna take a lot for me to open up again after this experience. But your encouragement means a lot.

yes, I can relate to the question, "Do you feel he omitted essential information about himself before you got married or did all this illness stuff actually occur afterwards" spouse lied through omission, I knew he had health issues, but seemed minor while dating, after we moved in together, I found a oxygen machine and his health issues, suddenly became worse, ... i wonder now how in the world did he hide his bad health ???!!

I really feel for you. My wife was ill some years ago and it can be very hard. I didn't have an affair, but my situation is different as I have no kids. The main reason I don't have an affair is that I don't wanna be the 'bad guy' yadda yadda. But really, you needing intimacy is not selfish. You are being starved of a basic human need. If he cut your food intake in half, to the point where you would waste away, would you call eating 'your selfish need.'<br />
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I didn't leave when my wife was sick because it seemed like a douchebaggy thing to do. Now here I am five years later, and going to leave now that it is 'socially acceptable.' I wish I had left at the time, I might have a family by now.

Thanks for your reply. Again, it looks like I am not so alone in these feelings. Every year (we've been together 12, the first 2 were good) I kept thinking "if I just try harder; if we just get to the next doctor; etc.". Then all of a sudden a decade and my children later and I'm wondering if I can take any more.

Oh I feel your pain. The right parent, the wrong spouse. We too are great friends and she is a wonderful mother. She is now and has for some time been dealing with serious abuse from her childhood that has rendered her sexually "dead" - which I can totally understand, but don't like living on the other end of! Our kids are small too, we are getting older. There was a great song lyric (can't remember who) something like "people leading lives of quiet desperation" - I think that sounds like us. I don't like any alternatives. I am seriously considering something to kill my libido for a while. Sigh.....<br />
I feel your pain and I too look forward to finding a palatable solution where none seems possible.

I can totally understand where my spouse is coming from too - knowing his terrible background, it's not surprising that he reacted to his illness the way he did ... but like you don't want to be on the other end of it any longer ...

Killing my libido? Done the following, to greater or lesser degree:
1. Lost myself in work (good until got laid off)
2. Threw myself into projects/school
3. Work out every day
4. Eat lots of chocolate
5. Inner sexual life

None of those are terribly satisfying.

I am hoping things will turn around since she **IS** working hard to get through her issues. But no guarantees and no time frame. I was thinking if I can stay sane for a couple of years then I can take the pressure off of her and let her progress more quickly and re-evaluate at that point. I can't imagine being away from my kids 50% of the time and forget the all the many issues with an affair, I just wouldn't have the time for that! So that how I came up with somehow putting the libido on hold.....