My Husband is Ill and I Want to Date. Any Advice?

April Braswell April Braswell • 9/25/14

Reader Question:

I am 45 and my husband is chronically ill. I am his caregiver and also have a 5-year-old. I am not sure the right way to approach dating.

Some may think it is inappropriate, but I think it is my choice, although admittedly I am more interested in companionship and intimacy than a long-term relationship. I’m just not sure how to approach men or even where.

Any advice?

-Victoria (Maryland)

April Braswell’s Answer:

Hi Victoria,

This is a great question and one which many other couples face as well. Thank you for raising it so we could cover it with honor, dignity and frankness.

First, of course, to honor your marriage, if your chronically ill husband is able to speak, discuss it with him. Bring up your desire for companionship.

If set up well in advance, you can still enjoy date night experiences with him, if he is open to it. Yes, you will have to arrange for transport and buy yourself the roses you love most, but some of the specialness might still be possible to share together.

That said, I also know along with chronic illness can come depression and exhaustion. Your husband may simply not feel up to anything special and might just never participate.

However, if he does have the energy and mental clarity for it, he could make reservations and buy flowers on the phone or online.

If he has none of the mental and physical inner resources to do any of this, then it’s time to start frank discussions of your need for male companionship. Tell him what you miss. He isn’t dumb. He likely has already been brooding over it already.

Express to him what you desire is platonic, so you don’t feel you’re going behind his back.

You also need to say something low key to your 5-year-old because he or she may pick up on things anyway. Tell him or her you are still Daddy’s wife and you have other friends. That’s really all he or she needs to know. Try something like, “I’m getting together with one of my friends today. Daddy knows.”

Then I would suggest you start with aiming for friendships with other men in caretaker groups at your local hospital. They will be in a similar situation and can understand the stresses you are under. You may find having additional male friends gives you what you need.

I hope this helps to get you started with the necessary discussions. Please feel free to come back later in a few weeks or months with any follow-up questions you might have as things unfold further.

Sincerely,

April Braswell


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