Does Sex Become a Distant Memory?
As with any activity, intimate or otherwise, pain and fatigue associated with arthritis can interfere with desire. Limited range of motion and physical deformities can also contribute to problems with the mechanics of a sexual relationship. Then, there are emotions that can get spun around. Hopefully, a healthy sexual relationship between committed partners does not become a distant memory. Without question, arthritis can make it more difficult.
Nurturing desire and emotions can improve intimacy. It will require attention from you and your partner, and a conscious effort to not let arthritis destroy a significant aspect of your relationship. Start with good communication.
It's more important than ever that you communicate your thoughts and needs to your partner. You can't expect your partner to know how you are feeling without open and honest communication. It's both your responsibility and your partner's responsibility to keep an open exchange of thoughts and feelings and to refrain from shutting down when things get difficult.
Chronic illness can cause serious difficulties between partners. Some problems can be complex and unresolvable. According to Chris McGonigle, Ph.D., author of
It's not uncommon in intimate relationships for the partner who has arthritis to lose interest in a physical relationship when pain becomes all-consuming. With the hope that tomorrow will be a better day, a pattern can develop if you don't consciously knock down walls you begin to build around yourself. Talk to your partner openly. Let your partner know how to help you.
It's also not uncommon in intimate relationships for the partner who doesn't have arthritis to silently suffer feelings of rejection. A pattern may develop where you appear disinterested, though you are actually unable to overcome pain and fatigue. If you're not communicating, you can send wrong signals.
Change What You're Doing
If your relationship with your partner is suffering, change what you're doing. Not unlike any of the aforementioned activities, you have to make a conscious effort to stay involved. This is even more important because you're talking about the most important relationship in your life.
If pain and fatigue are the factors interfering most in a healthy sexual relationship, make sure you are doing all you can do to manage your disease. Not only should you be open with your partner, you can discuss problems you are having with your doctor. Tap into your doctor's expertise for ideas that will make a difference. Perhaps it would help to take medications at a different time or to add a new medication to better control pain. Gentle exercise or a warm shower before bedtime may be soothing, relaxing, and mood-setting.