YES! YES! and YES!
It is a difficult subject to bring up the topic of sex or intimacy without being sick. I am a Catholic/Italian... I found out babies came from having sex to late... My surprise is 23 now and a blessing. Sex and Intimacy in a healthy relationship always takes work, but throw in the pain and depression, and low self esteem with RA... How is it possible?
It starts by accepting yourself. Accepting the New You with RA. You have to know yourself, and express yourself in a new way. This only comes after mourning your old self without RA...(another topic that will be discussed in another post). You need to be able to see yourself as worthy and deserving of love... and giving love. This is a long process for most. You don't have to wait to have sex or be intimate until you know yourself. You do have to be willing to get out of bed, move around and develop a new life for yourself. Starting is the second hardest part... Being able to talk to your partner about sex, and share intimate feelings with them. I say it is the second hardest thing because making this life style change is the hardest thing to do.
After you decide you are deserving you can open up with your partner and ask how they are feeling about your sex life(or the lack of). Its a hard question...but even harder if you have a lack of intimacy in your relationship. Intimacy is ability to share your feelings..your deepest emotions in a loving environment. Being able to tell your partner how you feel in every way. Sharing your joy, fears, and happiness. You have to be able to listen to your partner in the same way without judgement or being judged. Are you asking what if you don't have that?? It can be achieved in many ways, my suggestion is to start by seeking therapy for both of you and individually... You can learn to build that trust that is needed to share your feelings. Are you finding an excuse not seek help? Is it money? Is it no insurance? Is it no time? Is it that you are in to much pain? These are all excuses. Non of them are valid. They all get in the way of being able to grow old with your partner. You need work through the excuses one by one. Intimacy must exist before sexual joy can occur. You may fall and stumble along the path...get up and continue... WE are human... we can start again. I believe you will find even just thinking about the process will make you feel better, it has for me in my journey.
So after you have dusted yourself off, and have gotten up and taken the steps for an intimate relationship... We can now start talking about sex. Sex is possible even with pain. You have to explore what is going to be comfortable for each of you... Discussing this is working on intimacy and sex at the same time. Start slowly... Your partner may be afraid of physically hurting you... they may not know how to approach touching you anymore. Intimacy will allow you to explore the ways that will work for both of you. You can start by just giving yourselves the time and space to approach the subject. You can just hold hands ... really feel their hands...know every scar, or callas or fingernail...touch and massage within your limits each hand. You can stop there and then work your way up or down...whichever you prefer in a time you are both comfortable with. The next time choose touching their face... feel their eye lids, the shape of their nose and mouth.. I think you catch my drift.. start out small, and keep doing it. You can describe what you are feeling when touching their face for example. Tell them what you like about it, or let them tell you what they like about your face... Again.. you are working on Intimacy and sex at the same time. Love grows when intimacy and sex is moving in a forward motion.
I have experienced these issues and still work on them daily. RA takes its toll on all your relationships. You have to want to work on your life long partnership...if you want to be with this chosen person until death due you part. I can't imagine living my life without my husband. I can't even think of the possibility. RA gave me the gift of realizing that my relationship with my husband is the most important relationship I have, besides the one with my new RA self. RA gives us the gift of "smelling the roses" It gives us time to " sit in gratitude" (quote Catherine). I am not saying having RA is a piece of cake... it most definitely is not. We have to get out of bed, fight the pain, fight the fatigue... live a life that we have now. Live it to the fullest with your deserving partner. I owe that to my husband Jonathan. He has given me so much love and respect throughout our marriage. I owe that to myself and our marriage, and our small kids. Know that you are loved by me.. and know if you have any questions that you want to ask me.. find me in my group or email me or post a comment. I am a open book. I will share everything I know. xoxoxo
To be continued in deeper detail .... Would you like to know more? Please tell me so I can share some of what I have learned in therapy to help myself ....and in return maybe I can help you.