“For the past few years my husband has been unable to keep a good erection for us to make love. I know things change when we get older, and maybe sex really is just for the young, but we both really miss our intimate encounters with each other. How can we keep our passion alive when our bodies don’t respond the way they used to?”
For many men having a predictable and strong erection is a defining characteristic of their manhood. When this doesn’t happen shame is often felt for not measuring up to the expectations of masculinity. This shame leads many men to withdraw sexually, concluding it’s better not to even attempt sex than to attempt and fail once again.
In past generations this shame would have been suffered in silence, and alone. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. In the age of Viagra, there are many commercials to testify to the reality that erectile dysfunction (ED) is not an uncommon experience for men.
Most men at some point in their life will experience difficulties getting or keeping an erection. This is normal and due to a variety of factors, including physical, psychological, relational, and the sexual skills or techniques of the couple. And while aging brings its own challenges, ED can be experienced by younger guys as well.
When difficulty with erections become frequent or pervasive it may be time to seek professional help.
A counselor trained in sex therapy can assist you in discovering the underlying causes of ED and restore the confidence and the enjoyment of your lovemaking. Know that this is generally not as easy as taking a pill, despite the many commercials which suggest otherwise.
We must remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, with a complex interaction of bodies, souls, and spirits, hearts, minds, and wills.
Overcoming ED and growing toward your sexual potential will require you to address the many dimensions of your being and relationship.
In the meantime, remember to continue magnifying love in your marriage. As enjoyable as a firm and reliable erection is to lovemaking, truly making love is not dependent on the husband getting and keeping it up. In fact, hyper-focusing on and worrying about getting an erection can actually lead to prolonged erectile difficulties.
Practice deepening your connection with each other.
When the disappointment of ED tempts you to pull back from touching each other, “lean into” your spouse’s touch and presence. Being intimately engaged and making love with your spouse is more about connecting with the deep essence of your being than with your genitals.
Do you remember the joy of gazing into each other’s eyes and the sheer excitement of holding each other’s hands in the early stages of your relationship? This is the kind of touch and presence needed to keep passion alive even in the face of ED.
Spend some time reconnecting in this way inside and outside of the bedroom. Engage in erotic play as you fully touch and explore each other’s bodies, or simply hold each other as you spend quality time together over a meal or at the park.
By all means find solutions to any persistent erectile difficulties. At the same time, don’t let ED rob you of connecting intimately with your spouse. Continue to relax deeply into each other’s touch and presence, regardless if your husband’s penis is hard or soft, and love each other passionately.
Loving passionately may raise more than just your spirits.
How might you keep passion alive even when experiencing erectile difficulties? Besides intercourse, what are some ways in which you can connect intimately and enjoy erotic touch with your spouse? How might you recapture the sheer joy of holding each other’s hands?
Barry W. McCarthy & Michael E. Metz