by Dan Savage
on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM
I'm a 34 y.o. woman married to a man with severe Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. When he first got sick and started losing function, we found creative solutions to keep our sex-life alive. But as the disease progressed, he lost the ability to move all but his left arm. When he became bedridden I became his full time caregiver. MS is an obscene disease. I spent 24 hours a day changing his catheter, his diapers, manually extracting feces, washing up vomit, feeding him, etc. I couldn't sleep more than two hours at a time because he needed to be turned in bed. Please understand that I'm not mentioning this as some plea for symapthy, just to illustrate why I felt basically asexual at that time. I was too exhausted, angry, and devestated to even think about sex for the most part. After a few years of this it became clear that the disease had progressed to the point where I could no longer care for him at home. And we made the gut-wrenching decision to move him to a nursing home.
This was a year ago. Although, he is safe and well-cared for, I still have some serious guilt-issues about this. But I have admit—I kind of feel reborn. I can work. I can go out. I can have friends. I CAN HAVE SEX. Fabulous, fun, spontaneous, life-affirming SEX. I literally forgot it could be this way. It feels wonderful that I can do these things but horrible that he can't. And here's the big problem: lately he has been asking me to let him use his mouth on me. He wants me to sit on his face. I've been able to demure up to this point, but he's being pretty persistant. And I just have NO interest in doing that. I don't see him in a sexual way at all. After years of being his caregiver, the thought of being sexual with him almost feels like the thought of being sexual with a child. Thinking about it makes me feel depressed and I hate to say it but... kinda sick. But how can I deny him a pleasure when he has so few? Am I being a selfish bitch? I don't see anyway to refuse him without hurting him but... I can't imagine doing what he asks. Can you help?
Multiple Scleroisis Sucks
My response after the jump...
I'll drive you to the nursing home myself, MSS, and I'll buy you a shot before you march in there and I'll buy you two shots after you stumble out. But you gotta do this.
You gotta sit on his face.
You may not see him in a sexual way anymore, MSS, but he is still a sexual being, and he still sees you in a sexual way (obviously), and he still has needs and desires—you know, kinda like you do. But unlike you, MSS, he doesn't have the option of jumping out of bed and running off to have fun, spontaneous, life-affirming sex with someone else. You are all he's got, the only sexual option he has between now and oblivion, you gotta come through for him.
You don't have to see him as sexual. All you gotta do is sit. You don't have to enjoy it, you don't have to get off (although you may have to fake it), and you don't have to get an erection (which makes faking it so much easier). You can sit there and think of England or the errands you have to run or the fun, spontaneous, life-affirming sex you'll be having later that same day with someone who isn't your bed-ridden, terminally-ill husband.
Denying your husband this small pleasure, after all he's been through, and with all he has yet to get through, is just cruel. There's no way to refuse him without hurting him. And there's no excuse for refusing him.
Don't get me wrong: your squicked out feelings are completely understandable. I'm sure, however, that you felt just as squicked out the first time you had to manually extract his feces. But you did that because it had to be done and you got through it. And you did that—something that had to be so much squickier than setting your ass down on his face—because you loved him. And you still do, right?
Right. You do. You love him. But I suspect that, as much as you love your husband, on some level you resent him. Even that's understandable. And you may be angry with him—subconsciously—for what his illness did to your life. Also understandable. But please ask yourself, MSS, if you're denying him this small pleasure to punish him or because you see him as a child and literally can't bring yourself to do this. And then, regardless of the answer, go to that nursing home and...
Sit on his face.
And I'll be waiting for you outside with a bottle of Maker's Mark, MSS, at least in spirit.