Navigating Transitions: A Marriage Learning How to Manage Erectile Dysfunction

Today I am going to share with you a piece of Ted and Lila’s journey as they sought support to maintain physical and sexual intimacy since Ted had developed erectile dysfunction. 

Initially, Lila is the one who scheduled the appointment. She came across my website one night while scrolling through social media and was intrigued with the idea of sitting with a sexual health professional to talk about what was happening with Ted and how it was affecting their relationship. Ted (55) and Lila (51) have been married for 25 years. They met at a professional conference and had instant chemistry. Two years later, they were married. They built a home, a family, and a thriving manufacturing business together. They had enjoyed a fun and pleasurable sexual relationship throughout the marriage, often being chided by family and friends to “get a room”.  

In the last 3 years, Ted and Lila had faced loss and grief in their inner circle, a pandemic, social unrest, and financial struggle within their business that was profoundly heavy for Ted. Six months prior to our first appointment, they had taken a long weekend road trip to a cabin hoping for relief from what had become a daily grind. During that weekend, they attempted to make love 3 different times, but Ted was unable to sustain an erection that was sufficient for intercourse. Each time, the sexual interaction came to a hard stop with the loss of his erection and Ted would silently roll over, leaving them both alone in the silence. Since that weekend, they have made love once but in a very rushed and disconnected fashion that left Lila feeling even more alone. Ted was no longer reaching for her throughout their day, cuddling in the mornings and before bedtime, or lingering in bed on Saturday mornings.  When Lila asks to talk about what is happening between them, Ted becomes gruff and cuts the conversation off. She worries that Ted is no longer attracted to her or that she has done something that led to this disconnect in their relationship. 

Ted loves Lila with every fiber of his being. He knows that she is feeling disappointed in him but is struggling with a sense of insecurity and embarrassment over his “failure” to sexually please Lila. Because of his perceived failure, insecurity, and embarrassment, Ted has withdrawn all physical connection from Lila. He had a stuck recording in his brain telling him “Don’t start something you can’t finish.” and “Your days of enjoying sex are done old man.” and “Lila deserves a man who can perform in the bedroom and give her sexual pleasure.” He had reduced every valiant quality of himself down to a hard penis. 

Fast forward…

While Ted was reserved during our initial consultation and left much of the talking to Lila, he voiced willingness to engage in the process. And engage he did! Once he was able to feel safe in revealing all of the worry he was carrying about his ability to obtain and maintain an erection, he felt a profound release in his brain. This opened the door between the couple that had been closed for 6 months. During subsequent sessions, the couple learned about the male and female sexual response cycles as the body ages, how to incorporate tools such as constriction loops and vibrators, and Ted met with his pcp for a physical exam. We explored the impact of stress on sexual desire and sexual function along with actions to help them both manage stressors in healthier ways. We problem solved how to incorporate erectile medication into their shared sexual experiences. We shifted focus from erection, penetration, and orgasm to exploring pleasure in all types of touch and expanding their “Sex Menu”. The couple found new ways of communicating about their sexual needs and desires that felt relaxed and bonding. Ted and Lila were back on the same team and redefining their play book!

If you are struggling with ED symptoms that are negatively affecting your sense of well-being or the connection with your mate, reach out for support. There is no reason to feel alone. I would treasure the opportunity to work with you and your mate as you navigate the path forward. 

Let’s get started now by scheduling a complementary 15-minute telephone call! 

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