My husband has chronic health issues, so I can't get boned

Updated Oct 15 2019
Guest post by Damien Fox
This Mona Lisa eggplant emoji shirt is available here.

I read this Offbeat Home post about Asexuality and queerness redefined sex for us, and I hate to be a downer, but this is so much harder when you are in a monogamous heterosexual relationship. The things that work for this couple would not work for me, what I desire most sexually is penile penetration but I can't have that anymore due to my husband's chronic health issues. I'm not into kink or role-play or erotica or anything like that. Sex toys don't give me the same emotional connection. Not much else to be done but live without…
-Jenny

It's actually not more difficult to find solutions in a heterosexual relationship. It might feel like it, but that's because you have a set of expectations that you want met, and if you aren't having them met, then you see no solution.

But there are always solutions.

If you're not into sex toys, that's fine, but I will tell you that you are missing out. I used my first (in shame because of conservative parents) at 18, and it was good. Penis in vagina is very nice, and when I was not asexual (I was not born asexual, relationship and health problems contributed), I liked it a lot. But I learned something that maybe you need to: Penis in vagina with a human being may be very nice, but sex toys can do a whole lot more for you than other people can, and you can do it all by yourself.

Sex toys could mean your partner could help you masturbate, depending on the level of his disability. If he can't use any type of toy (there are a number of websites that sell disability-friendly sex toys), then you could masturbate for him using a toy. There are a lot of dual density silicone sex toys that feel very realistic which can add to the experience.

Talk with your husband about what he's interested in, what he can do, and he'd like you to do (yes, take ALL of this into account). Talk to him about what you're interested in, as well.

I'm certainly not going to try to sell you on kink or role playing, as you're in a difficult situation as it is and don't need to be pushed. I will say that erotica is incredibly useful, and can make a difficult sex life easier and more fun.

I will also say something you might consider mean: if you find that you aren't able to think more creatively about intimacy, and you feel that you can only get fulfillment in a very specific manner that your partner is not able to provide, and it affects you this much… you may want to consider moving on.

Whatever course you take, I suggest you take one. You're clearly unhappy, and you need some kind of help. I hope you find the help you need. Good luck!

  1. I’m with Jenny.

    After years trying and over $1000 spent on sex toys, I can affirm that they don’t do it for me. Sex toys, like everything else, are not a universal solution for a problem. It’s shaming to admonish a person’s experience just because something that is a solution for you isn’t for someone else. Do I wish sex toys and masturbation worked for me? Yes. Do they? No. Is that okay? Yes. Reading this post made me so angry because you basically shamed someone, telling her she basically hasn’t tried hard enough or gotten over her mental framework for sex toys to work.

    • Yes! This is the first time I’m seeing an “advice” column on this website, and what a dud. The tone is so smug and self-righteous. Unsubscribing from these emails, for sure.

      • @em, totally agree about the tone of this post, but if this truly is the only post you've seen of its kind (and by a guest author at that), why would the solution be to disregard all the rest? Seems a bit odd to me.

  2. I get that this may not be comfortable for everyone, but I want to mention that this is one situation in which hiring a sex worker might help. Obviously, as I said, this isn't going to be an acceptable solution for everyone, but hiring a professional either to satisfy Jenny's needs or to help facilitate intimacy between them could help. There are also sex workers who work in couples, so if Jenny wanted to engage physically with a man and her partner wanted to engage with a woman, that could also be possible.

    We tend to think about hiring sex workers as either (sometimes pejoratively) a way to cheat, or, more generously, as a way to reluctantly satisfy needs that aren't being met without the other partner, with or without their knowledge. But if you explain to a sex worker that the job you want them to do is to facilitate intimacy between you and your partner, not to be a substitute, that might be something they could provide.

    I also recognize that hiring a sex worker is a luxury and not accessible to everyone. Just wanted to put this out there.

    Also, sorry Damien, but I can kinda see where the above posters are coming from. I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but I can see why someone would read it that way. :-/

      • Or how about just a sex therapist? You don't have to pay someone to HAVE sex with you, you can pay someone to TALK with you BOTH about finding your new path forward together. (This therapy may even be covered by your health insurance.)

        Jenny talked about the emotional connection, and that’s big language. That’s love. Complete with sacrifice, and pain, and discomfort in an always unequal mixture with contentment, and safety, and ecstasy.

        I agree with the tone of this article in one way – if it matters to you that much, and you haven't found your way forward, you don't have to give up! There are always solutions! Time changes everything. We are all allowed to keep looking until we find what works for our family.

        But if the solution that works for Jenny’s family is exactly what she’s said… living without… then it’s and healthy and wise to grieve that loss.

        Jenny, if that’s where your at, in my experience this community as a safe place for that conversation. “I’m grieving the loss of my sex life, please tell me I’m not alone?” You’ll still get unsolicited, well meaning advise. But you’ll also get some sincere consolation from people who either already crossed, or are about to cross that same bridge.

        At least, that’s what Offbeat has always been for me. Admitting my deepest darkest secrets and fears and insecurities to find I’m not alone. Offfbeat is where I learned to be inclusive. What the language sounded like, and how to use it, and why it's important, and how to stand up to my family who don’t believe that. I’m still practicing, and I don’t have it all down yet, but this is where I come.

        • First, as for the difference between sex therapy vs therapeutic sex work, I can only say that, based on my experiences, the kind of therapy that some sex workers do with clients accesses parts of the brain that just can't be reached via talk therapy modalities (like most sex therapy or couples counseling). This is true of many different bodywork modalities, but when you're working through sexual issues, there's an argument to be made for doing it (safely, respectfully, with a lot of research first) with a sex worker.

          Second! Thank you so much for what you're saying about what you've learned from the Offbeat Empire. It means a lot to me personally, and from a biz perspective, it's helpful for me to hear from readers about what this platform has meant to them.

  3. I can't argue with not liking the 'if you don't like sex toys then it sucks to be you!' tone. That's not sexual positivism — it's shaming… which is the complete *opposite* of sexual positivism.

    And is most definitely NOT "Offbeat".

    But that having been said, it was SO refreshing to see a post about *living* our offbeat lives…rather than another post about the latest "shiny" we can buy to fill the offbeat holes in our offbeat souls.

    I get it that posts have to be much less frequent (and ostensibly more "high quality") than in years past. But to me, OBH&L feels more like a shopping blog than our Tribe's clubhouse.

    So..yeah. Even though this column was not OBH's best, please don't let this be the end of "living" posts.

    Besides, the "buying" posts have much more impact when they are the exception rather than the rule.

    Just my opinion. You don't have to agree.

    • Heya, Ina. Thanks for this thoughtful feedback. To say that Offbeat Home is in a time of transition would be a massive understatement… in fact, the entire Offbeat Empire is in the middle of a significant transition right now.

      I'm not really in a place where I can talk about it yet, but I just wanted to acknowledge that if you notice drastic changes or things seem unexpected… it's not just you. There's going to be a lot of change coming, and I don't know exactly what that's going to mean yet, and experimental posts like this are part of the process.

      (I'm writing about some of this stuff over at ams.substack.com… maybe I'll see you over there.)

  4. I realize the OP said they weren't into kink, but it sounds like they have one: human penetration.

    A lot of people have strong, specific kinks associated with human penetration. Could be the skin-to-skin aspect (which many cismen are super into, which contributes to their disdain for condoms). Could be the semen. Could be the general mess of it, because lots of folx like messy sex. Could be the psychology of that physical connection. Could just be long-term societal programming, but plenty of kinks grow from that root.

    I'm a person who cannot get off unless my partner is noisy during sex. I just can't. If there isn't talking and other sound, I lose interest and my mind wanders until I'm not turned on anymore. I can't even masturbate effectively without another person's noises. If my partner suffered an illness or accident rendering them mute, or if I lost my hearing, it would seriously impact our sex life. That's not me being lazy or prudish; it's just how I'm wired. Hopefully, we'd get through it and figure out how to continue enjoying each other. It would be incredibly difficult.

    Plus, Jesus effing Christ, imagine the terrible guilt and frustration both people must be dealing with. That alone can be a horrible mood killer.

    That's all to say: this response is kink shaming. Human penetration isn't my kink, but I get it. That's a terrible situation and I'm so sorry, OP. I sincerely hope you come to an arrangement that benefits both of you, and that you have support from friends/family while you work through it.

  5. If Jenny can read this comment and her husband can use hands, here's a suggestion from experience: have him use his hands to masturbate you to an orgasm, and fingers to "replace" the penis (I know it's not the same, but it's very intimate and connecting). Most importantly, talk about it with your husband, come to a common ground together. Doing things together, mutual understanding and compassion, will help you cope with everything. 🙂 I wish you a happy intimacy with your loved on, dear.

    .Lia.

  6. Meanwhile I think the tone of this piece was spot-on! I understand that this post was about more than your points regarding sex toys. It takes working with your partner(s) to keep trying to be sexually creative and satisfied, and that means navigating chronic illness, aversions to certain toys or kinks, self-imposed limitations, etc. This has nothing to do with being straight or monogamous. It's hard to hear, but the responsibility is on the person who wants better sex to work to achieve better sex, or, as Jenny says, "live without."

    Thank you for this take!

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