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For Caregivers: How do I bring the intimacy back.

I’d been married for a few weeks when my husband and I made a trip to visit his parents up North. We loaded the car with his wheelchair, the o2 tank & nebulizer and no small amount of meds and off we went. As his folks showed me around their ranch, a place Larry had done a lot of growing up at, including hearing his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, I was genuinely enjoying hearing the stories and looking at some truly beautiful scenery.

 

Because his chair couldn’t make it around the whole spread, Pops and I explored for a while on our own. That’s when he turned to me and looking me straight in the eye asked, “My son’s a great guy, but I know he can’t be intimate with you. So why did you marry him?”

 

And there it was, point blank thrown down in as black and white a question as anyone would ever pose it to me over time (and more than one person did…).

 

I had an already rehearsed response because Larry and I had shared the same conversation. We had come to a mutual understanding prior to our agreeing we wanted to be Mr & Mrs. And we would have it again, and again, and again before his passing.

 

Intimacy would be his agreeing to kiss no less than 10 places on me good night every night before we went to sleep. Even if I had to bring what parts he asked me to into reach as his body continued to loose mobility.

 

Intimacy would be my lovingly touching his more private parts even when he could no longer feel me doing so, and me talking sensually to him about why I loved those parts. Why I was glad to be allowed to interact with those parts.

 

Intimacy would be his making up romance stories where he and I were the main characters and without pretending away our details, he would one chapter at a time, spin wild and wonderful tales of our love life happening all over the world or in some novel place somewhere in our local area.

 

I had to explain to my new father-in-law that romance and intimacy might not include sexual intercourse, but that the word intimacy and what all it could or should entail was ours to define and live up. Yes, I was now his caregiver as well as his wife, but THAT was a two way street. He would promise to take care of me just as surely as I was taking care of him. That we had agreed that had to include the bedroom and our sexual needs. Even if we didn’t know what that commitment would fully entail straight off the bat.

 

Over time, because circumstances necessitated it, we had to rescript what all that would require. And some days, we had to come back together and revamp A LOT… Kick ourselves back into gear.

 

Intimacy is each person agreeing to pay attention to stroking the emotional parts of your partner. It may mean some revamping of what romance and your more private times and needs have to look like. But revamp. If you want to rekindle, revamp. Make it clear to yourselves that it’s a matter of declaring that THAT part of you being a couple GETS to matter. And it’s not a matter of sexual stimulation as much as it’s emotional stimulation. Gosh knows it can certainly intertwine. Even if it’s that’s just one of your facts and not both partners.

 

But the EMOTIONAL stimulation is what carries true intimacy, and that’s always a two way street. No medication needed to get THAT up or aroused, just a decision to say I’m going to take the time to remind you that I’m thrilled to be allowed to touch you and your heart in a way that solely is mine to do. And it’s a privilege I choose to take seriously and with pleasure.

 

 

 

Steffany Baker

President & Co-Founder ZARZAND Inc.

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