For some, it happens suddenly. For others, it’s a long-term challenge. It happens to couples who are completely open, and to couples who have some trouble communicating. In fact, it affects the relationships of about half of Canadian men over 50.
Yes, half. It’s that common for things to stop working or slow down in the bedroom.
The good news is that if a specialist can often identify and treat the underlying health problems that cause challenges with performance.
The bad news? For many couples, especially these intimate issues for the first time, it can be a struggle to talk about. This can cause a strain in the relationship.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.Many couples come through our doors at FullMast, and we’ve gained a lot of insight into the dos and don’ts of communication for couples dealing with ED. Here are some of our best tips for having healthy, productive conversations as you deal with these health issues.
Remember that you’re in this together. Before he can communicate with his partner, a man needs to come to terms with what is going on with his body. That can be tough. Many men will find excuses for not having sex (“I’m tired” or “I don’t feel like it”) before realizing that a health issue could be at play. It’s important to address any feelings of deception or confusion which result from this process, but try to stay empathetic. Remember, it’s hard to tell the truth about something when you’re just realizing it yourself!
Express your own experience, feelings, and concerns.The blame game never helps sensitive situations. Use “I” statements when talking about issues, and come to the conversation willing to be vulnerable with your partner.
Offer to let him start the discussion. If your partner clams up or gets defensive when you broach a conversation about these intimate issues, be willing to take it slow. Try first agreeing that a conversation should happen, then ask to start the discussion when he is ready (within a mutually agreed-upon time limit). This gives him important time to process his thoughts and feelings, and can help to lower his defenses by giving him a feeling of control over the conversation.
Be constructive. While erectile dysfunction is a very real challenge for many marriages and relationships, it doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life or your emotional intimacy. Try encouraging more frequent compliments or more physical affection (kissing, touching, etc) to keep the relationship. Expressing your feelings and concerns is great, but putting together a game plan is even better.
Address ED as a medical issue–because it is one! This is a common, treatable, and health-related issue. Rather than focusing on problems, suggest seeing a doctor to work towards solutions.
It might be difficult at first, but a few good conversations and the help of a doctor is the key to moving forward together. Clear, open, and compassionate communication is a must for any couple experiencing intimate issues.