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Lack of Intimacy



i am am not sure why I am posting this, other than to get it my chest. I was diagnosed with severe UC just over a year ago. I underwent an emergency illiostomy and spent the following 2 weeks in intensive care and the next 3 months in hospital. My wife was my absolute rock, through the whole thing. I wouldn't have got through it without her. I would have just given up. 

We have only been intimate once since my my surgery and that was towards the end of last year. 

I have tried to talk to her about it, but she gives me no reason for it, other than she doesn't feel like it.  I just get a cold response if I try ti initiate something. My confidence is at rock bottom and the lack of sex is eating me up inside. I don't think there is someone else. Am I wrong to be craving some kind of Intimacy so much?

As I have said I have tried asking her what's wrong. I also don't want to force her into something she doesn't want to do. I really don't know what my options are. 

hopefully I will feel a bit better after getting that of my chest.

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Before I start, I'd just like to say that I think a lot.  I'm going to throw out a bunch of different thoughts.  Please don't assume that I'm making any assumptions about you and your wife or your relationship.  I'm just going to say a lot of different things because maybe there is something there that does pertain to you.

First off, there is nothing wrong with craving physical intimacy.  It's natural and everyone desires it.  However, my question to you is are you seeking true intimacy or affirmation?  I only ask this because you said, "My confidence is at rock bottom and the lack of sex is eating me up inside."  When a person mentions confidence, it's more about self-assurance.  So it sounds like what you want is not relational.  Intimacy is relational. 

When we get an illeostomy, it is something that changes our body image and affects our self-esteem.  The typical response is to wonder if others will still find us desirable or attractive.  Many people's biggest concern when wearing an ostomy is dealing with issues of intimacy....that and smell....(Devrom inner body deodorant works wonders for that, by the way).  No matter who you're with, the only person that can help you with your self-esteem is  you.

From personal experience, I can tell you that I have made sex awkward for my partner because of my insecurities.  Those insecurities came out in different behaviors: The lights had to be out; I couldn't be on top because then he could see me; if the pouch was making sounds I was out of the moment...I was self-conscious during the act and so my behaviors reflected that.  The sex wasn't about my partner, but about how I felt about having sex with him.  It is possible that your approach to your wife is projecting your insecurities, and you don't realize it.  So in other words, you may not be initiating intimacy to be close to her, but initiating sex to build your confidence and self-esteem.  She may be picking up on that.  (I'm not there, so I don't know.  Just throwing out some thoughts).

Obviously, I don't know your relationship with your spouse to really comment.  However, as a woman I can tell you this.  We like sex too.  I know people like to say that men and women are different in that area, but I really don't think so.  We're just different in the way that we receive it.  As a woman, it is a real turn off when men are trying to initiate sex and not intimacy.  Intimacy is not sex.  Intimacy can lead up to sex, but sex does not lead up to intimacy.  Look at how many people have one night stands and never think of that person again.  Sex does not create emotional attachment, but intimacy does.  If she is not sleeping with you, she might not feel very close to you. 

Whatever is going on with her, in my opinion, has nothing to do with sex.  Don't ask her what she's feeling when you're confronting her about sex.  You said that you've tried to talk to her about the issue of sex, but she gives you no reason other than she doesn't feel like it.  Have you tried to understand what is going on with her outside of sex being the main focus?  If you're only encouraging her to talk, or justify why she isn't sleeping with you, you're going to make her shut down more. 

Work on rebuilding intimacy with your wife.  Touch her in non-sexual ways and without expectations.  Flirt with her and court her.  Opening yourself up to her will encourage her to open up to you.  Ask her about her day and tell her about yours.  Try doing things together that she likes to do.  Remind her daily about how much you appreciate and love her.  Basically, do all of the things you did to get her to become your wife.

Now don't get me wrong.  There could be things going on with your spouse, emotionally, that she is trying to sort through.  Those issues could be related to your condition or the fact that you wear an ostomy.  Wearing an ostomy doesn't just affect the wearer, but the intimate partner as well.  The issue that you guys have may be about your ostomy.  But also keep in mind, that it may not be about your ostomy at all.  Your problem may just be a relational issue.  Sometimes people with ostomies or people with chronic conditions will assume that an issue is related to their condition when it's not.  So much of our lives revolve around our condition that we naturally make associations to it.  We have to regularly remind ourselves that we are not ostomates.  We are people that wear ostomies. So we manage the condition, we don't let the condition manage us.


Hi cwright731,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post. You have made some valid points and it has been useful for me to get a different perspective to my own. Which I think is what I needed and the reason for my post.

I don't just generally pounce on her when I want to get physical. I do love kissing and cuddles and felt that she just didn't want me near her. I will try and take a step back and give her some space. She does seem distant and I have asked on numerous occassions what is wrong and was she ok. She just says she is fine. We have been together for over 20 years so I can tell she isn't herself. 

I will just be patient and try to be there if she wants to talk.

Thanks again for your reply. I really appreciate it.

All the best



Hi Jayd,

I read  your post, and cwright's response, and while she has a lot of good insight, and makes some good points, there might be something else. 

I have a number of friends, who have spouses who have been chronically ill for a long time.  they love their spouse, and have stuck it out through the very bad times..... But for some, the process is draining, and it turns themi into a caretaker for the person they love.   And when/ if that person "gets well", it isn't easy for the one in the caretaker role to go back to being that sensitive, loving and intimate spouse.   A friend of mine had become so numb....shut off to feeling of intimacy, during her husbands illness, that by the time he was well, she was ready to divorce him.   She loved him, and really didn't even understand her lack of response.  It's taken a lot of hard work , and lots of therapy, for them to regain the intimacy that had been long missing during his illness.   I'm not saying that's the reason, but it's something to think about, and perhaps the both of you could seek some help together. 

Best of luck to you



Hi Immarsh,

Thanks for your input. It is certainly something for me to be aware of and makes perfect sense. I am trying to show her that I don't need looking after anymore. I have recovered as much as I possibly can at this stage. However I may have further surgery in the future.



I agree with Immarsh.  cweight731 had some well thought out ideas and they may be valid. I took care of my husband for a very long time; the romance went out of the relationship after about 2 years.  I realize you say you are better now and are taking care of yourself, but if she had to do a lot for the prior year, it's going to take awhile for her to get use to the shift change (meaning caregiver to lover again).  We may believe in the "for better or worse, sickness and health" and be there no matter what; but it takes a huge toll on our emotions and physical capabilities if it lasts for any amount of time.  None of us can say for sure what is bothering her - we are only giving our opinions based on experiences of our own or someone we know.  She probably keeps telling you everything is fine because she doesn't want to make a big deal out of it and is trying to work it through on her own. In my relationship experience, once you make a big deal out of something - it tends to be harder to fix. 

Also in my experience, it seems to take women longer to switch gears than it does men.  Men don't seem to understand why we can't just go on as usual after the all clear siren blows. I can't explain that either - I guess it's just one of those major differences they write books about. 

There is another topic on here almost exactly like this with more answers. I tried to find it, but it's a bit difficult finding old posts on here.  My memory lacks a lot these days. 



Thats so sad......I had emergency surgery due to septic shock following a attempted sub-total colectomy. I have scleroderma and my colon was 'shot'..................Maybe she dont wanna hurt you, maybe she is not comfortable with the idea of intimacy yet. You all have kids? Assure her that even if your pouch would ever aint any worse than kid all washes off in the shower!!!


Well written.  And sort of sums up my experiences with a wife who won't accept my ostomy or won't talk about it; and of course, no sex or hardly any contact at all.  


would she mind if you sought affection elsewhere? Maybe you both need to go to local sc meetings etc.

Does she realize talking about this might give you PMA? Do you have children? If so how are they adapting? You working?


What is PMA?  She won't go to meetings.  My kids are in their 40's and have their own lives.  I'm retired. 


Jayd, I hope you felt better after getting it off your chest and realized there are many people in your situation...myself included.

In the end, my partner just couldn't deal with the bag during sex and that was the end for me.  It wasn't my partner who ended it, I did.  I needed someone who accepts me as I am because the colostomy is something I cannot change and I am far too young to give up on a loving, intimate relationship.  Each relationship is different...that's just how it worked out for me.

Still looking for that person but for me, it's better than regrets!

Good luck in yours!



Wow, Cwright731...I think you hit the nail on the head. Outstanding perception and insight. I think we all suffer from a lack of confidence, especially in the beginning. Without really admitting it to ourselves, we seek out validation, reassurance and comfort from our partners, all the while, denying it's just a testing tool. We tend to judge ourselves by the reaction of others. Fear of rejection is so overwhelming, that proof of acceptance from our mate, becomes a constant. Trying to stroke a damaged ego, is just simply draining.

Jayd, with time, patience and understanding on BOTH sides, things can work out. I wish you good health, comfort, joy and regained inner peace. You are not defined by your attachments, but by your strength and determination to live. You're a survior.....SALUTE!!!smile



Thanks for all your thoughts and opinions regarding this matter. It is good to hear other peoples thoughts and perspective.

I don't intend to give up yet. Sometimes it can be quite disheartening though. Hopefully given time it will all work out. I do sometimes wonder if I am the problem or I am reading too much into the situation.


A few more thoughts to add to the mix.

I read an article in the Phoenix magazine where  a woman was upset that she thought her husband no longer found her sexy because of the ostomy as he wouldn't come near her when she would change her pouch. It turned out the real reason he kept his distance is that each time he saw the ostomy he was reminded of all the pain she had gone through. Your wife may be having similar things going on (and may not realize it). If you haven't seen it yet check out Ostomy Secrets. They design wraps for ostomates that can be worn during sex to secure the pouch but it may also help with the psychological baggage. 

Maybe also try to think back to what was going on leading up to your surgery and lengthy hospital stay. While she very likely had nothing to do with why you became ill, maybe she blames herself in some way. We women are good at that.

Finally, rather than asking her questions find quiet moments when you both have down time and comment on your feelings without expecting a holy grail response from her.  You're just looking for ways to open the door for her to talk about something she may not want to bring up.  For example, "I was just thinking about everything we went through last year.  I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you.   You were my rock through it all.  I love you."  Or,  "You may not realize it but since my surgery we've had sex a lot less than before and I'm starting to feel like you no longer find me attractive."  


Jayd, This is a hard time for me as well...My husband did an amazing job keeping me alive...through surgery, rehab, another surgery, home health nurses, he even changed "wound dressings" as taught to him by a wound care nurse....I fondly referred to him as 'Doc"...I am forever grateful for him and to him...this all happened much too soon in our relationship...We were intimate a couple of times in the beginning of this year...hadn't been intimate since the beginning of 2012 because this is when all that stuff started.  We were married on 11-11-11 so  you see, we should still be on our honeymoon...Other problems with this started in January and I had to go back on prednisone...gained a ton of weight...not too appealing to my husband at the moment....I miss the "intimacy" more than the sex.  But I will say this, I just keep on being as cheerful as I can, being supportive to him...understanding the stress it must have been on him for that 2 years of taking care of me...I am back to work full time and I finally feel strong enough to join a gym...30 days into the gym and I feel so much better...Can't tell I go to a gym yet...LOL...but the spring in my step is higher and he sees how people around me are reacting possitively to me and my recovery...I know that he'll come around...just as soon as he can see me as a healthy wife and not associate me with being bedridden for so long...

I hope for me, at least I am praying for this to be the case...we are moving to a new house in about a month...a new beginning so to speak...leaving the "sick" memories behind...The more normal I conduct myself, I think the more normal our relationship will's a healing process for us all isn't it?

Don't give up Jayd, I'm not...


positive mental attitude

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