Last year, I wrote a post about Sex and that seemed to be a popular subject among the spouses who are living with PTSD on my blog. I received an email day before yesterday from a reader who shared her story about PTSD and intimacy. She brought up a valid point when she shared with me that she wasn't sure if half the time if it was her PTSD Veteran....or herself that lacked the interest in sex. I kept thinking about her email yesterday and last night in bed, and realized that I could relate to parts of what she was saying.
The last four years of my husband being home was rough often leading him to be sexually aggressive, or taking a long vacation in the land of no "salutes" mostly due to the all the medicines he was taking. There wasn't a safe in between. The first year, it really took a toll on me because I felt it a slap to my female ego or living with the thought my husband didn't want to be near me. When he was interested, it often took work on my part to get him stimulated which I didn't mind...but every once in a while, you really just want to be ravished and appreciated in bed without feeling like you are doing all the work. After a year and a half, we talked to his psychiatrist and medicines were changed which completely did a 360 in the sex department.This helped, but then it turned into fights because one of his medicines just made him sexually aroused all the time. Now I appreciate sex and have a healthy appetite, but you can only have so much and his needs were never completely fulfilled. I don't believe it ever would have been. His psychiatrist was laughing at me because I was like "its either resting on the tracks or coming at you with full steam....there isn't an easy train ride." I don't think it was the sex I missed because I could have gotten that, but the intimate moments before, during and after sex.
Being intimate doesn't necessarily mean having sex and most misinterpret that. You can have sex all day long, and still not be fulfilling that need of being wanted, loved, or gaining that moment of individual attention. Often times, the sex would be there but it wasn't in the least the romantic, knock your boots off, go to work with that cheesy grin plastered all over your face kind of sex. Often times, our sex life would fulfill him but left me somewhat empty. I always wondered if for a man, they feel the same when PTSD forces itself into bed. It seemed like for a long time, it was me who blamed me. Obviously I wasn't attractive enough, or turned him on like I used to do before he went to war. Then I went through that phase of resentment towards my husband because I felt like he was holding out on me. Now that I am more educated about PTSD, I realize that its hard to be intimate with your spouse if you are emotionally numb. I get that and felt better in the ego department of my head because then I realized it had nothing to do with me.
This past year has been better, but now I don't think it's him but me. I feel as if there is a shift in the relationship so to speak and wondered if other spouses are going through this? I feel myself pulling away a little bit, or feeling as if he just wants a quick, "let's get it over with romp in the hay" and I have no interest in it. It's not that I don't want to have sex, just a small part of me wants it to be better. I think much of it after thinking long and hard on this, is me being the caregiver for him. It has changed my opinion of him drastically and rather think of him in a sexual way...I am thinking "ok you have to call in his medicine, didn't I just remind him to take a shower? Oh God, please don't let him have a bad day-the kids are bitchy and I just can't handle another one on my hands today". Is it possible that being a caregiver to my Veteran has changed our relationship from husband and wife to just Caregiver/Veteran? I care for him like I do my children, always johnny on the spot with the Mother Hen routine. Is this hampering my sexual appetite?
It's hard to really think about sex when you are looking at someone you really don't know anymore. Granted, things have come a very long way since he has been home, but still much of him is guarded and I will never see that. I try to think of him as a lover and my husband, but often it's hard to do that when all you see is the PTSD and TBI. I try not to be so hard on myself because I know I am under a ton of stress on a daily basis, and I am quite tired mentally and physically. I know I want sex, I want sex with him, so why the hell is it so hard to just hold him and love on him like before? I have noticed that are relationship is closer now, especially since we have been tossing ideas around for the support group. It gives us something in common to work together on and I really love that. The rest though, I feel as if I should just pat him on the back and say Good job for something he has done, or give him a peck on the cheek. The romance has somewhat dwindled on both of our parts, and I am not really sure how to get that part back.
If I take initiative and want sex, often by the time the kids are in bed and I have showered/bathed...he is passed out in the recliner. So then I go to bed angry and wondering why I even bothered to shave my legs! I end up frustrated with him, frustrated with myself, and more importantly our marriage. So how does one switch between the role of Mother Hen, Wife, Mother, Caregiver and Wonder Woman with ease? Our relationship is closer, our friendship somewhat rekindled after four years of hell...but I just can't seem to put interest back into our sex life. I hate to already be worrying about sleeping in twin beds or separate rooms! Any other spouses finding themselves in this predicament or is it just me? Will it eventually pass and I will find that spark that once turned me on to my husband? How does one get back to the position of having a happy and healthy sexual relationship when living with PTSD? Or has PTSD permanently found a place in between us in the bedroom~
And you thought my title was leading to something dirty,