*Disclaimer: This is a really broad topic, and I’m not a sex therapy expert, so I won’t be able to cover everything that’s relevant. Most of my patients are male and heterosexual, so I’m addressing the topic from that perspective. I don’t mean to leave anyone else out, I just try to stick to writing about what I know.
Last post, we discussed how sexual dysfunction can impact how you feel about yourself, and how it might impact your thoughts about getting into a new relationship if you’re single.
If you’re already in a relationship, then that’s a whole different kind of situation: for one thing, you and your significant other probably have some sense of what you can expect of your sex life: how often, where, for how long, and so on.
When your body suddenly decides it’s not going to go along with your established norm, it can be frustrating and confusing to both of you. It’s easy to get sucked into feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment… And those feelings just make it more likely that you pull away from your partner even more. The more you pull away, the more disconnected from each other you feel, and the more difficult it can be to work on this.
So – it’s important for both of you to realize that it’s not your fault, or your partner’s fault either. It’s just another part of PTSD. You’re a team. You will deal with this as a team.
Don’t allow this issue to stop you from showing affection to each other. Take time to hold hands, look each other in the eye, and smile at each other; cuddle, or drive out to a nice peaceful spot and have a lovely, romantic picnic. These are all examples of ways to feel more connected with each other, and that’s likely to help.
I’d love to have you share your thoughts, comments, and questions. If you do post a comment, please don’t give specific details of your trauma – these may be triggering to another reader. If you’d like to offer criticism, I’ll take it – I know I’m not perfect, and I’m always willing to learn. If you do offer criticism though, I’d really appreciate it if you could do so constructively (ie., no name-calling, please). Thanks…
You can find me on Twitter and on Facebook.
~ Dr. Dee Rajska, C. Psych.
*Fine print: Please feel free to share the link to this blog wherever you think it might be helpful! Reading this blog is a good start, but it’s no substitute for professional help. It takes a different kind of courage to admit to yourself that you’re struggling. PTSD is not a sign of failure – it’s a sign that you’ve been through a lot, and have tried to stay strong for too long. If you need help – you’re in some pretty great company. Reach out, and give yourself a chance to feel better.
**Really fine print: The content of Coming Back Home is copyrighted; please feel free to share the link, but do not copy and paste content. Unless otherwise noted, all original photography on Coming Back Home is copyrighted. The photo gracing today’s post was taken by Wojtek Rajski, and I’d like to thank him for generously allowing me to use his work. Please do not copy photographs from Coming Back Home without permission.
3 thoughts on “Sexual Dysfunction and Relationships, Part II”
Very good points Dee.
May I add that if the deployment has spanned the better part of a year, that couples may feel like total strangers? I remember my husband coming home from training, deployment, debriefing and that being over a year. On top of his experience as a deployed person in a war zone and my experience as an anxious spouse with no real insight into his experience in the war zone, that intimacy becomes difficult upon reunification.
Thank you for the flood of feedback.
I should have started with a disclaimer: I know that you’re a diverse group of readers. I know that not all vets, and not all people with PTSD are male, heterosexual, and that PTSD has many impacts on sexuality, not just sexual dysfunction.
I started by talking about its impact on heterosexual relationships where a male partner has PTSD, because the original question asked by a spouse was from a female spouse about her male partner.
I didn’t mean to leave the rest of you out in the cold. You matter to me too. I know that there’s a whole list of other stuff to say on this topic. Why didn’t I cover the rest of it? Because you’ve told me that you can only pay attention for about 400 words at a time.
I will do my best to make my answers broad enough to apply to everyone when I can; when I can’t do so in 400 words or less, I will do my best to address a topic repeatedly, until I cover most angles.
As always – thank you for your feedback….