May 13, 2011 at 10:30 am , by Jennifer Castoro
Wives (and husbands, too) come up with many a reason to skip out on sex: a headache, a sleepless kid, an especially compelling episode of Dancing With the Stars. But what happens when you’d love to get it on, but it actually physically hurts? The couple in our latest issue’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column (on newsstand’s now! go buy it! Sheryl Crow is on the cover!) is dealing with that heartbreaking issue. Kiera, 38, has suffered from endometriosis her whole adult life but it’s recently worsened, which makes sex with her husband of 10 years, Ryan, virtually impossible. The condition causes terrible pain in the days before, during and after her period, making even everyday activities excruciating.
Kiera’s turn She longs to be intimate with her husband, but the constant pain and discomfort caused by her endometriosis makes it tough to run errands or cook dinner, let alone have sex. She’s noticed a change in Ryan recently – he gets home late from work and has strange, dark mood swings – and she thinks he may be having an affair. She’s caught him looking at online porn, which she hardly blames him for, since there’s no action anywhere else, but it hurts her that he’s resorted to that option. He’s withdrawn from helping around the house, too, and they constantly argue over parenting decisions. She’d rather be alone than feel like she’s letting her husband down.
Ryan’s turn His wife makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be touched, even in a nonsexual way, so he’s decided to make himself scarce rather than deal with her. He’s not having an affair, but he misses the wife he used to have, before her disease got worse. For half the month, he doesn’t have a wife, and he feels constantly rejected. He doesn’t get why she’s mad all the time and he doesn’t know what will set her off, so he stays mum or avoids her altogether. She also thinks she’s always right when it comes to parenting, and he can’t stand it, so rather than fight with her over it he chooses to not get involved.
The counselor’s turn Kiera and Ryan had no intimacy whatsoever left in their relationship, and her chronic pain took a huge toll on their marriage. It gave her less energy – and a shorter fuse – and Ryan couldn’t cope. They had to learn to communicate outside the bedroom, without yelling or accusing, and talk with each other instead of at each other. As for their sex life, patience was key. They needed to find other ways to be intimate to slowly get back into sex, and to plan around the times of the month that were most painful for Kiera. As their sex life improved, they started spending more time together and planning family activities again, and Kiera eventually became pregnant.
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