Monday, March 13, 2017

Intimacy and Illness

I just found out that something I said to another lady dealing with long-term health problems made a big difference in her. Today, I received the following private message.

"You had mentioned how important it is to stay intimate with our spouse. To make love once a month. And how for some of us, the response would be "Once a month? How am I going to do that?" While for others it would be more along the lines of "Only once a month??? Aaaaaaaaaargh." You said something about our needing to remember our spouses and that we aren't the only ones suffering through these circumstances. It really made me stop, look, and listen. To realize that no matter how much I didn't feel like it physically (pain), it would mean the world to Dan for me to make that effort. To realize that I wasn't the only one who was having to cope with these circumstances. It isn't that I was completely unaware of that, but I was feeling so sick, and hurt so very much, I just wasn't sure how that would even be possible. But ALL things are possible with God, and He made the way. It even brought Him into that area of our lives in a way that I had never imagined. Deeper intimacy. Making love does just that - it creates and nurtures deeper love between husband and wife. It reminded me that making love is glue that holds us together. That keeps the enemy out."

I cried when I read that. Something simple--a testimony of what God has taught me in my illness, has brought deeper love between this couple. Isn't God amazing?

The funny thing is that I've been revisiting this issue in my own marriage. I'm feeling better and we're enjoying one another more. However, there was still one thing that prevented me from fully entering in--and even initiating oneness: I feel ugly--a stoma and it's appliance are not just unattractive, they're gross!

However, God is good always and an answer was at hand!

Because of the number of snow days and cancelled school in our area, our kids had to go to school on President's Day as a make-up day. My husband (Handy TechMan) had the day off from work! We had an entire day for just each other and we made the most of it. You see, with an ostomy, I don't feel like I look very sexy for him. I want to look good. I want to be beautifully desirable in his eyes. I have a band that covers the bag but it's just buff colored--serviceable but not very pretty. I've shared this feeling at different times. He determined that we were going to take care of that for me. On our day he took me to the mall and we visited almost all the stores that had lingerie. I wanted something lacy and form-fitting that would cover my midsection and be pretty while we enjoyed one another physically. It also had to allow access to the important "zones." It was tough to find something that worked because I also wanted to be classy. I tried lots of styles and options but finally found a lacy, lined, camisole that held the bag in while still skimming my midsection and providing the necessary easy access. ;) I looked pretty and feminine in it and HTM liked it, too. It wasn't cheap but it has been worth every penny!

It's funny, but this small scrap of clothing freed me from embarrassment and (despite the extra layer of cloth between us) removed a barrier to being one with my husband. Now, I will even initiate rather than simply being will when he led.

As we have become more regular in the physical aspect of our relationship, our emotional hurts and loneliness from my illness are being healed. We are becoming one in mind and spirit again--not caretaker and invalid.

It's easy to let our illnesses take over our relationships. So, fight for them. Do what you can--even if it's a simple kiss on arrival and departure--that's all we had for a long time. Connect physically with your spouse. It's way too important. Because, like my friend said, "...making love is (the) glue that holds us together. That keeps the enemy out."

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