A well-known common effect of prostate surgery or treatment is erectile dysfunction (of varying degrees and durations). A much less discussed effect is the marital disconnection that often accompanies it. Men faced with loss of their sexual functioning are barraged with a host of emotions including grief, anger, depression, fear, uncertainty and confusion. Often added to these are a sense of shame and loss of self-esteem.
At the same time, their wives or partners are feeling many of these emotions, too.
All of this is compounded by the fact that both may feel unable or unwilling to talk with each other (or, in many cases, with anyone at all) about these feelings. The result can be a cessation of emotional communication followed by disconnection. The things that aren’t being said form a wall between the couple, and the distance grows.
Restoration of the connection (physical and emotional) can be accomplished, though prevention before communication breaks down is preferable. There are things you can start to do earlier (or later) to enhance your physical and emotional connection and maintain intimacy.
The post-treatment reduction in physical intimacy usually brings with it a feeling of awkwardness and vulnerability. Start by acknowledging those things so they won’t be such large obstacles to getting close again. Take the risk of having some physical contact, bringing some lightness and even humor to the situation. Start slowly without any expectations.
Do you have questions or concerns about your relationship (whether related to the sexual aspects or other areas of concern)?
If so, you can contact me via this website about them. Or, if you prefer, call for an appointment to discuss them in person, either individually or as a couple.
Tom Fitzpatrick, M.A, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who founded the Center for Creative Living in Royal Oak Michigan. In additon to working with individuals and couples, he gives workshops and seminars that focus on successful relationships.