No Sex After Wife's Stroke

We had an active sex life before my wife's stroke in 2000 and life was full of cuddles. She was very seriously affected by the stroke and remained in hospital for over half a year. Since then she has made some recovery but still relies upon an electric wheelchair for her mobility and has a cognitive deficit . So for the past 9 years I have been her carer with the support of social services home care visits. Since her stroke she has been very resistant to being touched in any way, let alone sexually. She does not have any sexual feelings, though she says she still loves me and I believe her. She now has other health problems, particularly a hiatus hernia that bleeds from time to time causing anaemia and sometimes she vomits black blood and ends up in hospital.

So after 9 years my relationship is much more that of a carer of a difficult person rather than husband. The associated stress has resulted in depression and me losing my job last year, so I am now working on establishing myself in self employment. I've thought of leaving, but feel too committed to do so. That doesn't stop me thinking how to restore romance and sex to my life. So do welcome other people's thoughts on this.


Hypericum Hypericum
56-60, M
9 Responses Jan 17, 2010

I really feel for you and understand, my wife had a stroke 6 months ago and now says she has absolutely no feelings for me, she has had a wonderful recovery for a bleed and is walking and her only physical problem is a limp.

I know that I've read your story and really thought I commented?

my situation is just a little different. My husband and i have been married for one year and 7 months. he told me about his problem when we first started dating and i thought a pill could fix everything....wrong, wrong, wrong. sometimes there is no pill to help E.D. so now in Dec of 2013 add a mild storke into the picture.
He still tries to be intimate with me but nothing happens which leaves us both very frustrated . He is 59 and I am 49. We should be enjoying each others company,
but due to the stress of me being the only person working, doctors appointments, pill planners to fill, household chores to do, very little communication between us, we are a mess as a couple and the marriage is a bigger mess.

i do not know how to be a caregiver and a wife. i look at him different now, i don't see him as a lover or a husband, but i do see him as one of my pateints in the hospital. i am a nurses aide. it is just like all the romance ( there was very little to start with) is gone.

i am trying to honor my vows, for better or worse in sickness and health, but it's so hard,
i feel like i am gertting the short end of the deal. there is not a week that goes by without me crying , feeling closed in and trapped he is a good man that has had some really hard knocks in life, but right now i feel like iam having the hell beat out of me emotionally. i love him and at one time i saw alot of potential in him now i am not sure how i see him.

i wish i knew what to tell you more than just saying i understand how you feel.

I do empathise with you. A stroke can utterly change a relationship. How depends partly on the nature of the brain injury caused which can affect the cognitive processes as well as physical, and of course it can be very frustrating and or demoralising to the affected spouse. My wife seemed to become inflexible in her thinking and any sort of physical closeness difficult and it became a carergiver rather than romantic relationship.
One thing I have done is to develop a life outside the home as well, by joining various organisations and going on walks etc.

This is a very difficult situation. I can honestly say that I would "allow" my husband to have a sexual relationship with another woman to get his sexual needs fulfilled if I was physically unable to satisfy him due to a disability such as your wife. The problem is that I can say that now while I am still physically healthy, can satisfy him sexually, and am in my right mind. I know it is difficult to know how I would actually feel if something happened where that was not the case. All I know is that I love him with all of my heart and soul and he feels the same way. If I was unable to give him sex I would want him to get it somewhere else so he would be happy as long as his heart remained with me.

Thanks Ladyblue for your kind feedback. Best wishes. H.

I feel for you. My mum works for a gentleman who's cared for at home. He has muscular dystrophy is bed bound and is on a ventilator 24 hours a day. He only has slight use of his right hand. Despite the hospital set up at home his wife sleeps in a bed next to him which they push together to hold hands. She's disturbed through out the night when the carers go in to check his stats or to do a cough assist. <br />
They have a lot of obstacles and issues with dependacy and a sexless marriage. They both want to they are just unable. But they love each other and she'd do everything for him. SHe's been his carer for 15 years. Only just recently has she started to go out some weekend nights or take short holidays abroad without him. Both their stress levels have decreased.<br />
I think it's Social services or benefits that can give you an allowance to allow for you to have a day off here and there.<br />
There are also plenty of support groups where you'll find people in the same situations. Hope some of this helps.

I can understand something of what you are going through, Hypericum. My sweet wife also didn't want any more sex after some years and one child, which I honoured, as to me sex MUST be consensual. <br />
In her last year of life, she had a stroke, which led to the discovery of a brain tumour, and then cancer spread throughout her body... I cared for her as she wished at home. We still had cuddles up until a few days before her death, though.<br />
<br />
I guess its something that's on the cards, when we promise "Till death do us part"... and we have to honour our promises. May you be supported with all the strength that you need!

I miss the intimacy of a close sexual relationship. So after many years of sexless marriage following my wife's stroke and being her family carer, what are my options? She is seriously disabled, relies very much on me and would be devastated if I left her and asked for a divorce. I fantasise that it would be great to find a woman in a similar position to myself for an absolutely discreet understanding intimate relationship of mutual support.

That sounds like a very sensible idea to me. It is admirable that you are willing to stay with her and care for her, but it seems utterly tragic to me that your life has been altered so drastically because of her condition. Your vows were presumably 'til death do you part. Your sex life together seems stone cold dead. After 9 years she will not tolerate a cuddle? People need human touch. If her disability renders her unable to share that, I'd say you are well within any sort of ethical behaviour bounds to look for a woman who desires doing so, with the understanding that you intend to remain a married carer as well.

I very much appreciate the advice and feedback from both deguarddog and vegassbaby.<br />
<br />
She does love me as she tells me occasionally, but has virtually no sexual feelings which may be due directly to the brain injury but the ongoing ill health will also be a factor. She does hate being in hospital and losing control of her care there - though she's none too easy to look after at home though she does quite a few things for herself. However she needs emotional support and needs help to dress can't cook etc. And she can be very obsessional and does not understand situations which leads to tensions, which are not helped by her hearing problem which she's resistant to getting diagnosed and treated in some way. <br />
<br />
I am trying to widen my 'hinterland' and socialise more - and I can now leave her overnight occasionally. We do get at least one home care visit a day. <br />
<br />
Unfortunately she's quite resistant to being held or nuzzled. <br />
<br />
It has severely affected us economically in the last year as I've lost my job due to depression brought on by the pressure of work and care. I'd set myself up with a franchise which I was developing, but now the franchisor just announced today that he's cancelling all franchises before I've made any money, so income generation is quite an issue to address. <br />
<br />
Sorry to be presenting so many difficulties, but I do feel at heart positive - but would like to get an income and more out of life - and more for my wife as well. <br />
<br />
Best wishes to both deguarddog and vegassbaby plus all other readers.

This is one situation where I must say you shouldn't leave. Strokes are damaging to the brain and hers may have left her without a libido or may have rendered sex uncomfortable or painful. Also, six months in the hospital was alot of being touched by strangers and likely, it was often painful or uncomfortable. <br />
You admit she has a cognitive deficit. This means she can't reason clearly. Sadly, the stroke has made her into someone else. Now she has the added pain of a hiatal hernia, vomiting old blood and repeated trips to the hospital.<br />
You need to talk to someone about your situation and get some help with her care so you can at least get out and socialize. Hang in and be there for her. If your marriage was good before the stroke, she deserves your loyalty and support. She truly can't help how she is now. Her mind is scrambled in ways you can't imagine and it isn't her fault. If you were going through all this, I doubt you would feel like being intimate either. I wish I had something more encouraging to say but this is truly a "man-up" time for you. After all, you may not have her much longer. Wouldn't you feel better knowing you there for her all the way to the end?