How late is too late?

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  • #24679
    PeacechiefPeacechief
    Participant

    My wife of 46 years has had secondary vaginismus longer than either of us can remember. We are 68 and in good health generally. She hit menopause in her early 40s and was expressing little interest in “PIV” sex well before then. She insists it is what it is and that’s fine with her–or would be fine if I weren’t so grumpy about it. We’ve both made efforts to commit to non-penetration alternatives, but without very good results. She long said she didn’t care about orgasms but did accept my gift of a nice little vibrator a few months ago and seems to enjoy it sometimes. (Needless to say, that’s a big encouragement for me.) She hasn’t been interested enough to do much research on her own, and I haven’t been content to say we are too old and couldn’t possibly enjoy PIV again. I recently discovered the Maze site and have now read most posts in the men’s section and a few of the women’s. Must I really concede that it’s “use it or lose it” and we lost? Is it too late for us? I welcome your wisdom.

    #24690

    It is never to late! I have treated patients in that age group, and they have done well. But first and foremost, she has to want to do the treatment. You can go to her with your research and see what she says. Perhaps she has given up because she didn’t know there were treatment options. Sex therapy could also help to get you on the same page. Good luck!

    #24731
    PeacechiefPeacechief
    Participant

    Thanks, Cathleen. I understand, and I agree that “first and foremost, she has to want to do the treatment.” Last night I told her about the forum and showed what I had written, along with your reply. In short, no, she does NOT want “treatment,” at least not that she acknowledges. She reacted against the idea that she needs to be “fixed” or “changed,” a topic we’ve gone over many times before. (I’m sure you appreciate the issues of trust, control, power, and so on that we’re dealing with here. When I reported her insistence that “it is what it is,” that’s not only about a physical barrier to intercourse.) Since last night I have read more of what other women have written in their section of the forum, and I’m just hoping my beloved will decide to devote even a little time to reading some of it on her own. I confess to grumpiness, but I’ve learned a lot of patience, too.

    #24733
    recessivegenequeenrecessivegenequeen
    Participant

    Peacechief, you are to be commended for the patience and grace you’ve given your wife – those of us who have suffered vaginismus know how hard it can be to deal with the emotions and physical realities of the situation, and it’s especially hard for the men who have to be supportive but don’t have the power to take the problem into their own hands and make a change. You are clearly a good husband to your wife.

    I agree with Cathleen – it is truly never too late to make a change in your life, and there are surprises at every turn. She’s also right in that your wife has to want to make the change. It’s not a thing you can go through with halfheartedly. BUT, I hope you won’t be discouraged by your wife’s initial reaction to what you’ve learned. Her initial resistance makes sense after a lifetime of believing she was trapped in this problem and it’s really scary to confront the fact that things could be different someday. It involves taking an emotional risk that requires some strengthening of resolve.

    It’s eerie to me how identical my reaction was to your wife’s when my partner confronted me about needing to seek treatment for my vaginismus. I had lived with it for about 10 years and HATED it about myself but also felt like it was tangled up inextricably in who I was. To attack my vaginismus was to attack ME – my ego, my self-worth, my right to be loved. Somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that if someone couldn’t handle this problem then they couldn’t really handle who *I* was, and thus to demand a change in that department was to tell me I wasn’t good enough. I see now that this belief was my fear talking, trying to keep me away from the scary and important work of making my life better.

    I deeply resented the man who told me I needed to seek treatment if our relationship was to continue, but in the end I finally picked up the phone and called the Maze Clinic because a good friend reminded me that dealing with my vaginismus was something I had always wanted to do someday, so why not make someday today? I agreed and eventually got the clinic’s botox treatment under anesthesia, and after repeated dilating sessions was able to have intercourse in less than three weeks. Now, two years out, my sex life is completely normal – anyone meeting me now would have no idea I had ever had any problem with intercourse.

    All of this is to say that it will take your wife time to unlearn the way vaginismus has wound itself around her life and her identity, even if she knows that other possibilities exist. The funny thing too about getting treated for vaginsimsus is that you assume the best thing that will happen to you is that you’ll be able to have sex (Which is true – and great!) But the thing I never expected was how much strength it would give me to draw from in the other parts of my life. Vaginismus can decimate your self-worth and getting through it teaches you so much about your own ability to face fear and come out on the other side. The relief of feeling empowered (and even just feeling normal) makes it worth it. I hope your wife will realize in time that it’s never too late to make your life better. You both deserve that.

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