Get it back-Get back the intimacy that you once felt.
For a particular breast cancer patient, cancer left her physically and emotionally scarred. She, like many others, felt unattractive, definitely not sexy, and avoided all contact with her partner because she couldn’t stand to see the refection in his eyes when he made love with her. She was not alone in this journey as her partner felt like he was moving too fast, and was afraid he would hurt her by touching her. He thought he should allow her space and time, so he simply avoided sexual contact with her.
For a particular prostate cancer patient, his partner tried everything. She talked to doctors; she talked about it all the time. But for him, he felt his masculinity had been stripped, he dropped out of all couples activities, and didn’t speak at all about it.
These scenarios are actually quite normal for couples going through cancer treatment together. Like them, you may have thought that normal sexual activities with your partner would resume following treatment, and that life would go back to normal. For many cancer survivors, however, cancer treatment ends, and it just doesn’t happen. Although it may not seem easy, there are ways to regain your sexual life with your partner following cancer treatment.
My next blog series addresses four very important areas of focus while working to regain intimacy following cancer treatment:
- Dealing with Low Energy Levels
- Learning to Love Yourself
- Dealing with the Physical Limitations
As a cancer coach and advocate for intimacy following cancer, I want nothing more than to help you and your partner find the same level of intimacy as you did prior to cancer. It all begins with communication and conversation with your partner. I feel that healthy conversation about intimacy issues is the most important step to regaining intimacy again. Continue reading to learn more about communicating with your partner on this topic.
Communication is the foundation for healthy relationships and successful recovery from intimacy issues. Couples with great communication skills prior to cancer, should this step of the recovery process simple. However, for many, conversations about sex are difficult and uncomfortable. There are three things that I recommend to help you navigate this conversation with your partner.
Access Your Feelings About Sexual Conversations
To practice healthy conversation about sex with your partner after cancer, first assess your feelings towards this conversation and sex. Consider these questions before talking with your partner.
- How have your feelings about sex changed since cancer?
- What makes a conversation about sex following cancer uncomfortable?
- What do you need to talk about or overcome to regain intimacy?
- How do you feel about sex and your partner now?
Ask For Conversation
Whether is in person, via email, phone call, or text, the second step towards a healthy conversation about sex is simply asking your partner to have the conversation.
Before asking, have an idea of what you plan to address in this conversation and let your partner know exactly what you plan to talk about. Be specific about time, location, and topic of conversation.
Example: “Dear Tom, I want to speak to you on Saturday morning over coffee about some of the changes that I’ve experienced since chemotherapy related to our sexual activity. It’s something that’s important to me, I want to work it out, and I look forward to having this relationship back the way it used to be. I love you and look forward to talking to you on Saturday.”
Relax and Talk
At this point you’ve thought about what you’d like to talk about and set up a specific time and place for the conversation. Relax and allow the conversation to take place. As you talk it is important to focus on the most important aspects, issues, or feelings you have about you and your partner’s intimacy while also keeping the conversation short. Be specific and keep your first conversation around thirty minutes to avoid overwhelming your partner.
Following the conversation, thank your partner for listening and set a date for another conversation. Continue these short but effective conversations for as long as you need to “get it back-get back the intimacy that you once felt.”
Have you had successful conversations with your partner following cancer treatment? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Comment below or leave me an email to share your own experience. You can contact me at aftercancer.co. While you are there sign up to join the community of survivors also struggling with these same sexual intimacy issues. I look forward to hearing from you, and remember, your questions are always welcome.