What I want you to know about living with a husband who suffers from erectile dysfunction

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by browneyes.

My husband suffers from erectile dysfunction and the last time we had sex was about 1.5 years ago. I stopped counting. I couldn't bear any longer to count. We no longer speak of sex in our household. My husband has suffered from type 1 diabetes since he was a child and this has had an increasingly devastating effect on his physiology. When we met and became sexually active in our 20's, I might have seen some early signs of dysfunction. During the second time we ever had sex, we had to stop intercourse midway because his blood sugar levels dropped. Other times he had difficulty with orgasm and had to go on for a long time before he was able to. In my mind, we were destined for "happily ever after" and I was sure that this issue would resolve on its own, at some point. I didn't worry about it and we married 17 years ago without a care in the world. I can see now that the frequency of sex in our marriage steadily decreased throughout the years. We had numerous attempts during which he was unable to orgasm. In recent years, however, things got worse to the point where he was unable to even experience an erection. My husband sought medical help from two different doctors. Two different prescriptions failed to work as described and he chose not to go back for a follow-up. His frustration and embarrassment were too much for him. On my part, I tried other attempts to stimulate him, but more often than not we had no success. I can't even remember when was the last time that my husband was able to achieve an erection that resulted in orgasm. The last year that we had sex, most attempts ended in frustration, raised voices and broken hearts. We have stopped speaking about this problem at home. I cannot speak for my husband and say what is going on in his mind, but I can see that this has crushed him. The way he has dealt with it is by pretending that sex doesn't exist. On my part, I want you to know that living with erectile dysfunction at home is devastating. I miss the closeness and intimacy of sex. I do not even ask my husband to "snuggle naked" with me because it is just a reminder of what we are unable to do. I miss the physical satisfaction of having sex with my husband. I do not want to look at the future, because I cannot look at a future of another 45 years without sex (we are both in our mid 40s). I am unable to speak of this issue with anyone, not even with my closest friend, because it is a deeply intimate topic and mostly because I wish to respect my husband's privacy. I cry because I see no way out and I wonder at the unfairness of these being the cards that we have been dealt. I also feel at a loss as to what else to do. I feel anger that this is an issue that my husband has chosen to sweep under the rug. I suppose he could go back for a follow-up with his doctor, but I have mixed feelings about prodding him to go back. Because there is a potential for renewed failure, blame and guilt, I really feel that this is something he needs to do out of his own initiative. And it hurts that he hasn't taken that initiative. I also wonder whether sex therapy might be helpful at all, but our budget is stretched in so many directions, I don't know where to find any more room to pay for therapy, especially not knowing if it would help. The possibility of having an affair has crossed my mind, though I don't know if this is something I would ever go through with (if the situation presented itself). I don't know what the future holds for us. I still feel committed to my marriage and really can't imagine not sharing my life with my husband. But my longing for sexual intimacy is deep and it hurts. The thought of never having sex again is unbearable, and for this reason I don't visit this thought too often. I don't have any answers and I don't know if answers will ever present themselves.



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