I received this email from a man whose spouse has MS.
I’m in a very unique situation. My girlfriend is my best friend that I love very much, but I’m not in love with her anymore. See she has MS and I for the most part take care of her and her needs, like reminding her to take her meds or doing the laundry, not letting anybody take advantage of her running to the store or whatever it might be, the list goes on and on.
I was married twice. Once for 18 years the second was a mistake. A rebound. Anyway this is the first time that I can remember that I have not had sex in 3 long years and I’m at the end of my rope. I am a faithful man who always provided for whomever I’ve been with, but it’s time for me to do what is best for me .I also need loving. And I guess that’s what I’m looking for is a female to hold me and just have that one on one. I’m a very sexual person and dedicated, but I have my needs that need to be met! Need advice please!!!!
This is one of the most difficult e-mails I’ve ever gotten, and I seriously have thought about this, and advice I could offer you for days.
First of all, you should be commended and validated as a caring, giving, loving man. Many men (and women) would have been long gone in your situation. It takes courage and selflessness to stay, and for that I have the utmost respect and admiration for you.
I also want to tell you that your thoughts of other women and needing intimacy are very normal and understandable, so you should not feel guilty about that at all.
While I can’t even begin to tell you whether you should leave or be with other women, I can offer you places to start that will help you figure out what to do:
- Therapy. You probably don’t want to hear this, but if you aren’t seeing a therapist, you need to. You need someone to listen to you, to hear you, to validate you. Although a therapist isn’t the kind of one on one you say you need, it IS one on one. He or she will be someone you can say anything to, who won’t judge you or give an opinion (like your friends or family.) It’s professional advice and someone who will help you reach within yourself for answers. Trust me, you need this. If you are opposed to it, just try it. Make a commitment to 3 sessions and see what happens.
- Faith. I don’t know what religion you are, and it really makes no difference, they are all beneficial. You would benefit tremendously from some spirituality and from talking to God. It helps answers come to you.
- Friends and family. Do you have anyone to lean on? Anyone to do you favors? Hang out with your girlfriend while you go do something for yourself? I am really bad at asking others to help me, and that is a bad thing. We all need help from people around us, and 9 times out of 10, they want to help us. But more than just helping you, do you ever just hang out with your buddies? This is very important. My girlfriends keep me sane!
- Be selfish at times. If there is something you want to do, a sport you want to go play, a movie you want to see, go. Not depriving yourself of things gives you have less of a chance of becoming resentful, angry, or bitter.
- Join a support group. I don’t know anything about this, but there must be a support group for spouses of people with MS, right? Look into that. It could be a huge help to you. Try MSConnection.org.
I hope that helps, and again, I want to let you know that you are appreciated. What you are doing is commendable and you are demonstrating true loyalty. You should feel great about yourself.