Talking about his erectile dysfunction with your partner is challenging to say the least.
"Everyone" knows how important it is when on member of a couple is experiencing erectile dysfunction to talk about it. Ever wonder if "everyone" also happens to have any idea just how difficult that can be?
Do some preparation before launching into a well intended offer to talk it out with him.
Brush up on your talking and listening skills.
Pay special attention to your own assumptions, attitudes, beliefs about men who talk about their feelings. It is common for both men and women to be uncomfortable with men who talk about feelings, or admit fear or discouragement. Deal with these issues within yourself as much as you can before you start talking with your partner.
Become aware of your own emotions and fears on the subject as much as you can. It is not uncommon to be experiencing some pretty strong feelings that can interfere with doing your best talking and listening to what is going on with him.
Your goal here is to do what is called "triangulating on the problem".
(And you thought Erectile dysfunction was a needlessly confusing mouthful.)
Be prepared for him to feel like talking about his erectile dysfunction is the last thing he wants to do.
It has been said that women like face-to-face intimacy, looking at each other and sharing their feeelings, and that men prefer shoulder-to-shoulder intimacy. While I am all for men developing their skills at being intimate with their partners in the face-to-face mode, this is likley not the best time for that.
In shoulder-to-shoulder interactions, the two participants are usually literally shoulder to shoulder while walking or sitting both looking in the same direction, not at each other. The subject whether it is an athletic event, something that needs repairing, or a shared problem it is out in front of them. Some couples do well at this in their car.
So, your goal is figuratively to put the two of you together on one side, considering "the problem" that is "over there" together, making it like a triangle with the two of you side by side and the problem on the other point. We are right here side by side looking at the problem over there.
Why he very likely won't want to be talking about his erectile dysfunction
Sex is often hard for men to talk about, especially if it has to do with erection or ejaculation. Lot's of guys reading this are probably already thinking "what else is there?"
A "real man" can fulfill his partner's needs, therefore if he can't get it up or keep it up, he reasons that he is failing his partner and is not a real man. If those ideas don't reflect yours, here's the chance for some healthy education.
Fears of aging can play into this unwillingness in talking about his erectile dysfunction too. For males, sexual functioning has been on a downhill slope since their teen age years and finally not being able to get it up at all may just feel like the last straw.
He may also be afraid that talking about his erectile dysfunction in itself will make it worse. This is not totally off base. When there are psychological causes, it is the case that being nervous makes it worse. However, since the NIH estimates that 80% of ED has a physical cause, the psychological is likely just a part.
He may feel unable to discuss stressful things with you for fear of his own perceived lack of interpersonal skills in such areas. Here's one of the hidden blessings of serious crisis. It makes for the perfect reason to learn.
It has been observed that before talking about his erectile dysfunction or any other issue relating to sex with a doctor, on average a man will wait about two years. Part of that may be embarrassment and part may be the fear that the doctor will find something serious (which, you might say, is exactly why he should talk to the doctor, but what is is.)
Women often find this strange, probably because they have been talking to doctors about issues surrounding menstruation, pap smears, vaginal exams etc. all of their adult lives. Other than the ritual hernia and prostate exams during general physicals, guys can pretty much avoid the subject. And, it seems to be pretty general that men don't like the medical scene much anytway.
Also, talking about his erectile dysfunction with his male friends is extremely unlikley to happen. It just isn't masculine.
So, if he's not talking with you about it, don't worry that you're being left out. It's highly unlikely that he's talking about it with anyone else either.
Or, he may not be having any of these thoughts at all and it is something entirely different.
Individuals are just that - individual. Even if 99% of guys with ED have been found to think a particular thing about it, you don't know what the one you're talking with thinks until he tells you. Keep an open, curious mind.
Is it your fault?
Sometimes the partners of men experiencing erectile dysfunction are afraid of talking about his erectile dysfunction because they are afraid it is because of them, afraid that their partner no longer finds them attractive. And, in fact, that is possible, but not the highest probability cause, especially as we get older. The potential causes that aren't about whether you turn him on or not are numerous enough, potentially dangerous enough to his health, and treatable enough, that it is the most loving thing to take the risk and talk about it.
BTW if your worst fear turns out to be the cause even that is a lot more treatable than most people realize.
Often starting with something like "I know this might sound silly but . . . . ." and saying that you're worried that it may be reflecting a decline in how attractive he finds you or that you are doing something that is lessening his interest is a good start.
Concern about his health is good. And, for us over 50 guys especially, not contrived at all. Recent research seems to be showing that even lessening of the ability to get hard as well total inability to attain an erection may be an early indicator of cardiovascular disease. See more on this here. Sticking with "I" and "we" instead of "you" is helpful.
And, go slowly. Watch your partner. Keeping to a pace that isn't too much, too fast will also go a long way.
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