While it is commonly acknowledged that chronic pain conditions interfere with many aspects of life – work, hobbies and emotional health – the effect chronic pain has on relationships is not as often discussed. Chronic back pain can significantly disrupt the flow of romantic relationships as having sex becomes difficult.
Sex is an important component of most romantic relationships; when the sex life begins to wane, many couples lose another component of relationships: intimacy. While sex and intimacy often go together, they do not necessarily depend on one another.
Perhaps the two most important efforts a couple that has been affected by chronic pain can make together are: 1) finding a way to make love that is comfortable and painless, and 2) learning to develop intimacy separate from sex, which is needed in times when sex is not possible and for an overall healthy relationship in general.
Relationship advice is difficult to give since every couple is different. This means that there is no one solution that works for every couple. Some couples are not satisfied without frequent intercourse, whereas other could do without for a long time. Whatever makes you both happy is what is best for you. What follows are very general suggestions that may help people with chronic pain that affects their sex lives.
Intimacy is defined as closeness between two people. It is often accompanied by physical affection, but is not dependent on it. Intimacy is present in a relationship when you feel close and comfortable with your partner, when you share your feelings and thoughts. Intimate couples have a deep understanding of each other's passions, beliefs and fears. Such understanding and openness are the foundations of intimacy.
It is common for intimate love to manifest in physical affection, which includes but is certainly not limited to sex. Holding hands, touching your partner's cheek, given a back rub, running your fingers through the each other's hair – these are intimate physical actions that can increase your feeling of closeness. They can also create feelings of separation, however, if one partner associates any intimacy whatsoever with pending sex. Maintaining intimacy means making your actions and intentions clear, and having them be received respectfully.
While it is often equated with sex, intimacy is its own entity. For couples whose sex life has suffered, or become totally extinct, due to chronic back pain, it is vital to keep intimacy alive. See http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-have-intimacy-without-sex.html for more tips on maintaining intimacy in the absence of sex.
Changing It Up
Chronic back pain doesn't always means that sex is out of the picture. Since many people experience chronic pain and many people enjoy sex, there has been research into what positions work for people with back pain.
For example, it has been found that 80% of people with sacroiliac joint dysfunction in the lower back feel pain relief when the hip is relaxed backward; bending the leg on the side that suffers pain can be enough to achieve comfort during sex.
More tips like this can be found at http://backandneck.about.com/od/sexandbackpain/bb/havesexbackpain.htm , an article that links to tips on sex positions for a variety of chronic back pain conditions.
Having an intimate relationship with a sex life you and your partner are satisfied with is important for both emotional and physical health. Don't let chronic back pain interfere with your relationship. Talk to your partner and your doctor, and do your own research. If you and your partner are open to experimentation, you will likely be able to find satisfaction.