There's always the option to hire someone (or get a friend involved), but I do think that MSS doing this herself is the better option. Have a drink, maybe do a little dance or makeout session to build the mood, and go for it.

Dan's right on this one. Just do it. He's probably not going to be with us for much longer anyway, and you'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't do it.
I feel so for this woman. And I feel so for this man. He still loves you. He still wants you. That is sweet. And it's what he needs to affirm his life. If you can't find it in your heart to do this one last thing for him, you'll regret it. Seriously regret it. And regrets like that have a way of tainting our lives forever.
Dan, that may be one of the most beautifully charitable pieces of advice I've ever read. It's so easy to forget how much mercy matters in these matters. Every prompt of evolution seems to tell us to not find the disabled or sick sexually attractive, but they don't see themselves this way. Maybe the best thing about the admittedly sometimes awful business of prostitution has been the way that prostitutes have sometimes offered sexual mercy to those who can't, for whatever reason, find it otherwise. Maybe we can start a charity of lovely people who help out in these situations. Hummers Without Borders? The Red Light Cross?
Sad situation, great advice. I'm happy she's been able to (hopefully with her husbands acceptance) find her own sexual satisfaction during this tough time. This isn't too much to ask on his part.
*Slow clap* Bravo, Dan, you've come a long way.

I'd like to get up on a soapbox here for a minute and say that it's wrong that our laws and societal expectations made it necessary for LW to become her husband's fulltime caretaker in order to keep him alive. A just society would do better than that.
I can't judge her, but I'll add my voice to those asking her to please do it.

If he can get over the knowledge that of course you're doing it out of pity, not sexual attraction, then you can remember why you married him, and all the good sex you had before, and do this for him once in a while. Give him something besides pudding to look forward to, for whatever short time he has before the disease progresses further and he can't even ask for this.
Family and friends who are caregivers for people with serious, debilitating illnesses are the unsung heroes of the modern age. The physical work was even harder for our grandparents, who often cared for THEIR parents in their own homes long before disposable diapers and microwaves and Ensure, but I think the emotional burden is greater now because we as a society are so isolated from disease and death until a crisis strikes and the learning curve is much steeper. Also, extended families are smaller and relatives live further away.

First, LW, I hope you know that you are entitled to your feelings. And if you haven't been involved with a caregiver support group heretofore, you might consider joining one even now.

Second, if you feel able to follow Dan's advice (and it's your own business if you don't), first contact your local long-term-care ombudsman for a private, sympathetic discussion of how best to go about arranging conjugal time at the nursing home where your husband lives. S/he will be able to put you in touch with the social-services coordinator or other appropriate person. If your husband has a roommate, they should be able to make appropriate privacy arrangements and in any case make sure no one barges in on you. Not every place, whether state or individual facility, is enlightened, so you may find roadblocks. If so, it might awaken righteous anger in you which can actually help you along.

Good luck, and be gentle with yourself, however things go.
Wow. That is such a tough situation, and I feel for them both. You're right Dan, she needs to give him this. He's locked in hell and she's all he's got. I guess this is what they mean by "in sickness and in health." I would hope, were the situation reversed that he would do the same for her.
Is is easy to fake a 48 hour MS? Maybe for a weekend?
Another thought: how about she sits with him, masturbates, and then puts her panties on his face so he can smell her scent... That doesn't seem to be asking so much, and he'd probably like it...
I, too, am a caregiver/spouse for an MS sufferer. While our circumstances are nowhere near as dire as yours, MSS, her doctor and therapist both make the point that we BOTH have the disease, in effect. It can be life-consuming, and cause resentment for both parties. I agree that it is difficult to feel like a spouse, when you have been involuntarily forced into the role of nursemaid by this condition. Nonetheless, Dan is right. You need to "suck it up" and do this for your husband, because, no matter how much MS has damaged your relationship, and it DOES damage it, your husband didn't choose to have MS, and he is blameless in getting it. Unlike many other preventable conditions (like being a meth-head), no one knows why people get this disease, and there is no cure, only treatments for some, which vary in effectiveness from person to person.
As long as he is your husband, you need to try to meet his limited sexual desires, as hard as it may seem to do so.
@11 exactly what I was about to say. Obviously it is much worse to be the person with the debilitating disease, but people often underestimate how difficult it must be to be the person who loses them and watches the slowly decline. You have given up so much of your life for him, it is great that you have started to get back to normality.

If you can't bring yourself to do it that is fine, it is really ok, but try and remember the relationship you used to have with him. Ultimately, you should do it for yourself, because he will be gone and the only person it will affect is you. I think everyone else is right, you will regre it if you don't.
No. Be honest, tell him it's over and how you feel about him. Then hire a sex worker, a whore of some kind, to do that. Make sure the whore's
I'm going to be really pissed if tomorrow I read in the news that some nursing home employee called the cops on an MS patient's wife for indecent exposure or public lewdness or some bullshit like that.
Dan gave fantastic advice, every word of it. I hope she takes it.
This is one of those letters where I would really like to leave a profound comment, but Dan's already said everything that needed to be said. We could try to unpack the possible reasons for the husband's persistent requests to give her oral - and I suspect some people will - but regardless of the reason, it's still what he wants. And I think the bottom line is that if your bed-ridden spouse asks you to do something you're perfectly capable of doing, you do it out of love.
Dan savage,

there is no "in spirit" when one is making false promises about being there for someone with some makers mark

also telling someone to do something they are sexually uncomfortable with is so messed up.

i dont get you anymore dan savage
Tough situation. I know you feel sucked dry by his disease, like it has eaten almost all of you up, and you are just now finding out there is a you left and life can be good again in some ways.

But Dan's right. Just do it.

Afterwards, you'll be glad you did.
Wow, Dan, you've gotten all rigid and "You must do for family" lately ... something going on? Sure feels like it.

I didn't agree with you in the recent podcast when you told that guy to "Man the fuck up" and be a father to a child whether he wanted to or not, and I don't agree with you now when you tell this woman that she is obliged to submit to a sexual experience she finds nauseating because she's married.

MS is a cruel disease, yes, but there are two people here, and I'm frankly pretty disturbed by the very idea of forcing yourself to do something you find sexually revolting out of a sense of duty. Is that what marriage means to you? She also has a life, and a point of view, and her own sorrows to bear.

The thing that I find disturbing in both of these cases is where I see you appeal to a rigid axiom as though it removes all the ambiguity from the problem. Who the hell are you to say anyone "must do" anything? It's out of character, and doesn't mesh at all well with your otherwise situationalist ethics.

No one "must do" anything, unless you're some kind of fundamentalist. We're talking about real people here, not principles.
After years of being his caregiver, the thought of being sexual with him almost feels like the thought of being sexual with a child. Thinking about it makes me feel depressed and I hate to say it but... kinda sick.

I hope he never finds out how you really feel about this, MSS. This is tragic for both of you. Good luck and all my best wishes.
she wrote an advice columnist asked for help, how would YOU help her/them ?
I really, dearly hope that I'm not that man a decade from now. (Well, setting aside the fact that I'm a woman.) I'm twenty-one right now, but I already have a fair number of health problems, and it's all too easy to imagine...

I know it's hard, MSS. But it's hard to be the one who's sick all the time. I feel so guilty when people have to take care of me. It's incredible that you were there for him through all of that--it sounds unimaginable. But he had to live through the shame and embarrassment of needing to have you do those things. You get to have amazing sex now, but he, as Dan said, can't just jump up and get that. I really think you'll look back on it and regret it if you don't try being sexual with him at least one more time. If you can't do it, you can't do it, but even talking dirty with him (while thinking about someone else?) or something would probably help.

EricaP (@14) had a good suggestion that you could maybe start with, and @11 had some good advice, too. Dan's advice was really great this time around, as well.

I just wish you and your husband the best. This is a really awful situation all around...
Dan is right on with his advice. This poor husbands choices are so limited, I doubt he could even use his hand. Those who are whining about the wife not being obligated to do as her handicapped husbands requests, do you give the same advice to men who's wives have put on weight/let themselves go? At least she doesn't have to produce an erection
It's fascinating (and utterly bewildering) to me that picking feces out of his ass is more palatable to her than sitting on his face when she's not in the mood.

But it's not really surprising - I imagine a lot of women would feel that way.
Great compassionate advice, Dan. This is a situation that no one deserves, MSS, but I agree with the others who say you'll probably regret it if you don't make an effort to accommodate your husband's request.

In addition to the use of liquor, you might want to consider taking some additional steps to prepare for the encounter. While men can get turned on watching porn or other simple things (own it, guys!) research indicates that many women need a combination of factors to get in the mood. It's probably different for every woman, but think about what used to get you hot and bothered about getting it on with your husband and what gets you in the mood now.

Is there an aftershave he used or an old t-shirt he wore when he was healthy that still has his smell on it? Or video of the two of you together that triggers romantic or happy memories? Or maybe a hot porn video you can watch to get yourself worked up or even watch together to build the mood?

Finally, if you've got an understanding friend with benefits, ask them for some intense foreplay to get yourself in gear before visiting the nursing home and some affectionate sex for you as a reward afterward.

Good luck and best wishes.
Difficult but good advice Dan.Your suggestion is the most charitable solution, and I think it will help her avoid guilt down the road, after he's gone.

Has anyone mentioned yet that his request may be a way of wanting to stay connected to her ... to still feel a part of her life? He must feel terribly isolated knowing that she's enjoying life without him. He may need to give her what he knows (or suspects) other men already are.
@28 wow, what a level of ignorance you have shown. You compare what this women has had to go through, caring for years for a deteriorating husband, to a spouse gaining weight? You are a fucking idiot.
@24: I'm frankly pretty disturbed by the very idea of forcing yourself to do something you find sexually revolting out of a sense of duty.

LW forced herself to do revolting non-sexual things out of a sense of duty (e.g., dealing with his feces). Why does it suddenly become disturbing when sex is involved?
You know, I think people who are all "no one should have to do something they don't want to" are the reason this world is such a shithole sometimes. No, you are actually not entitled to have it your way, all the time, every time. Sometimes you have to do things you really don't want to do, because it's the right thing to do. This being sexual doesn't make it suddenly subject to different rules.

This isn't some boyfriend who gets into a car accident 5 months in, whom you don't want to nurse forevermore. This is a person with whom you share(d) your life, and his disability doesn't make him a non-person whose needs you no longer have an obligation to fulfill. You still owe him the opportunity to be intimate with you, whether or not that still turns your crank.

He's not victimizing her. He's her husband, whom she made vows to, who is the victim of a fucked-up disease that is in no way his fault. Her inability to separate him as a person from his (lack of) physical/sexual appeal seems immature to me. Where's your compassion? He just wants to connect with his wife. She seems to just want to move on.

I think she should thank her lucky stars that she gets to have a life and not be shackled to personally caring for him for the rest of it. Fire up the imagination, close your eyes, and remember the love and devotion you promised him. It really sucks to be in this situation, but here you are, and your part sucks way less than his.
Those who are whining about the wife not being obligated to do as her handicapped husbands requests, do you give the same advice to men who's wives have put on weight/let themselves go?

That would be precisely Dan's advice.
I don't know how to feel about this. It would certainly be the kind, merciful thing to do it, but I really couldn't blame her if she didn't.
@30: Your post made me cry thinking of her smelling his t-shirt and remembering what they once had together.
@ 34: Amen. Like I said this is what they're talking about when they say in sickness or in health.
@34 I get your point, but she has really not got it her way, I assume her way would be for her husband to not have MS. She has been not having her way for years, doing essential things for him for years. If she just wants to move on I think she deserves it, where is your compassion for her?

Ultimately, as I said, I agree, she should do it, for herself and for him but I certainly wouldn't judge her if she couldn't bring herself too.
Great advice.
seandr @29/33 Women expect to do a lot of ass-cleaning throughout life, whether for their children, their parents, or eventually their partners. Women no longer expect to have to put up with unpleasant sex... I don't see why her reaction is bewildering to you. Would you rather change an adult diaper or go down on someone who smelled disgusting?

Please, people, some compassion here. If you haven't been in her shoes, please don't tell her that she is required to do this. Literally, she is not required to do this. She can divorce him. So, ask her to be compassionate, but, you know, be compassionate towards her too. Otherwise you make it hard for us to believe that you (@34) would step up if you were in her shoes.
It would be best if she sat on his face.
A whole lot of respect and sympathy for you and your husband, letter writer. Two small things:

Perhaps read the book _Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love_, which is, in the first place, a vastly sexy book, and also has some sympathetic detailing of how a very sick man still wants to be virile and sexual.

Second, ask for Makers 46 instead of Makers Mark, since it is way better.

Good luck. You were both dealt a terrible hand. I wish you weren't.
Love and honor, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part. I don't know what vows you made but wasn't that the gist of it?

You sound like you're back on your feet so I think you can handle receiving oral from your husband.
I have to say that "not wanting to do this for your husband" sounds so very Randian that it makes me cry for humanity. The very definition of rational egoism. And rational egoism is very very bad.

He should thank his lucky stars that she didn't abandon him like many husbands do their sick wives.
@40: Would you rather change an adult diaper or go down on someone who smelled disgusting?

I'm not sure how this question is relevant. If you are wondering whether I'd rather sit on my disabled wife's face even though I'd lost all attraction to her, or clean shit out of her ass, I'll take choose the face sitting every time.

I mean, I just have to sit there and tolerate a little tongue on my balls, maybe moan a bit if I'm feeling charitable. And this is somehow worse than cleaning shit, waking up every 2 hours, washing up vomit, etc? Yes, that's really bewildering to me.

And to be clear, I'm not judging this woman at all. Given all she's done and gone through, she's a better person than I am regardless of whether she gives him a taste of pussy. I'm just trying to understand how a person could be willing to go through hell on behalf of her husband but would find it such a struggle to sit on his face.
Ugh. What a horrible place to find yourself in.

99% of the time, I'd say you were not obligated to have sex if you don't feel like it. But Dan is right. Sitting on his face is the kindest, most merciful thing you can do right now. Take one for the team.

But I so, so hear you when you say you've been through so much already. If you can't bring yourself to do this, I wouldn't blame you at all.

I've worked in hospice before. I agree with @11. If you haven't already, it would probably help a lot if you joined a caregivers support group of some sort. This has been a huge, slow-moving trauma in your life. An understanding shoulder to cry on, besides your husband's, can help a lot.
Great advice.

As someone who took care of his dying-of-a-debilitating-disease-boyfriend, MSS, I can say with some authority that anything he desires but that you won't do is something you'll definitely regret not having done once he's gone, no matter how you feel about it right now.

Fifteen years later, I still find myself wondering about silly little details that I could have handled better... and this isn't a silly little detail, it's a big one - maybe only for him at the moment, but one day you too will realize how it important it is. (I'm happy to report that I did right on the big ones.)

If you can't do this for him, do it for yourself. You'll feel much better for the rest of your life. Trust me.
Congratulations, Dan. You finally published one that made me cry.

And yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Re: 45, since Newt Gingrich just threw his hat in the ring, let's take a moment to contemplate how he dealt with the illness of a spouse, not once but twice:…
seandr@46 – ah, but receiving oral is not a simple task to many women. It's not just sitting. A lot of women have issues around receiving oral. (Me, for instance, due to having been orally assaulted as a teen) Maybe she's overweight, and the process will involve asking the staff for help getting supporting furniture in place. Regardless, she says it makes her feel sick -- can't you use your imagination to consider an act that makes you feel sick (going down on someone who smells bad), and bring your compassion on that basis, rather than telling her that sitting is easy, anyone can sit, suck it up? If this were easy, she would just do it. It's not easy.
Jesus, Dan, when you're wrong, you're WACKO WRONG!
Absolutely hire someone. Work with him, you're going to have to be honest - gently, kindly, and not easily - and find him someone else. Dan: this is one where some thoughtful consideration would have been called for. Take a break/hire an assistant/use the time you save by reposting letters. Jezefuckinlouize!
I can't stop thinking about this. I'm so uncomfortable telling her that she should do anything, but she did ask for advice. I think that she'd regret it if she looked back and hadn't done this. Telling anyone that they're required to do anything sexual just gets under my skin.

But I don't think that she's required to do anything--I just thinking that going through with it would be the best thing for both of them in the long run, I think.

Mostly, though? The whole situation is just awful. I don't know what I'd do. I don't mind giving a blow job or hand job when I'm not feeling turned on, and it can be a lot of fun. But I don't like being touched sexually at those times, except to the extent that turns on my partner and gets them off. Maybe you two could find some way to connect sexually that works for both of you?
@51 EricaP

It's not easy for the reason she said it isn't: She no longer sees her husband as the sexual being he once was. That's because up until a year ago she was more of a mother to an infant than a wife to a husband.

But that was then. She doesn't do that now and she's had her own sexual and mental health reawakening. She's in a much better place now. Shouldn't she try to get back to that view of him that she had when they married?

My heart goes out to you and to your husband. I think you are wonderful. I don't feel like I can add anything to Dan's advice or even suggest that you must do this.

If I was wearing your shoes I would do it with enthusiasm. I'd notify the staff that we needed privacy. I'd spend a lot of time fantasizing about all the wonderful sex that we had before, look through albums, etc. Put on simething that framed my assets. I'd bring some kind of romantic lighting and music. I would give my life partner this gift. I would do it for all the reasons you listed, sex is very life affirming. His life is worth affirming, as is your's, and so is the life you made together. It would also allow him to give back, which I think is so important for his spirit.

I wish you all the best. I'm so sorry for the cards that life as handed you. Be good to yourself, please.

If it was possible I would do it for you, take your place, but it isn't, he wants his life partner and he wants to liove you.

Now, I'm going to have a good cry!
I think it's pretty clear that it would be great if she did this - and she's fully aware of this.
But the idea that she's somehow a bad person if can't get herself to is just mind boggling. People can only take so much and do have the right to say "I can't do it". If whatever coping mechanisms she used in the time she was a full time caretaker for her husband have made it impossible for her to be with him in a sexual intimate way, at some point one has to accept that's how it is.

That some people would actually see her as a selfish person and judge her is, no matter what she ends up doing, what makes me cry about humanity. I really hope she finds it in her, but the sniping of the anonymous back-bench Pharisees here is really hard to take.
One of the reasons why we're averse to having sex with our siblings is that we've seen them vulnerable as children. That is relevant here. Would you want to fuck your sister or brother?
EricaP I totally get that you have issues but seriously? Sometimes a situation isn't about you (the general 'you). Sometimes the kind, merciful thing to do is be a little uncomfortable on behalf of the person you claim to love. LW says she's not doing without. Speaking as a disabled person I cannot tell you how comforting it is to have someone who puts aside the ick factor to be kind to me. I'm sure it's not that thrilling for them but they don't complain. I'm sure there's a lot of pretending on their part and I truly appreciate that they don't have to do anything to make me happy. I can only hope you never end up in the the situation LW's husband is in.
Never have I so profoundly disagreed with Dan.

Disgust is the most primative and powerful emotion. The writer feels disgust at the thought of sex with her husband. Deep disgust, disgust worse than that she felt at having to be his nurse and literally extract his shit. Telling her she should relieve her sick husband is pretty much the same as telling her she should relieve her sick dad. Biologically it may be no big deal but psychologically it could be devastating. Again she's not just 'not into' the husband anymore, she's completely skeeved out by the thought of it.

So pay a sex worker, maybe give him some pictures of herself or recordings of herself talking dirty, or sit by his bed and talk while the sex worker goes to work, whatever she can do without disgusting herself.

Yes his life sucks, maybe he has no quality of life at all, maybe he'll die soon or seek to end his life, maybe this would give him a few last moments of joy. None of that matters. She has a right to keep sex as a special thing, a thing which she does out of joy, a healing thing. She shouldn't be pressured into polluting that.
How about a compromise? She offers to bring in a vibrator, or other toy of her choice, and masturbate for him, up close where he can see/smell it. That way, she avoids the actual sexual encounter with someone she can't see as a sexual being any longer, and he doesn't need to know that she's squicked by the very idea of doing the nasty with him. Everybody wins.
To those, like #22 and #24 above, who think Dan is either too stringent ("do it!") or who are "distrubed" by him advising someone to do something sexual they're discomfortable with...

You really have no sense of proportion.

You really consider sex to be the one defining thing in life? The one thing that never, ever has to be subordinated to something else? The one thing that never, ever, ever could be done for reasons other than self satisfaction?

Is sex then necessarily selfish? Does it always have to be self-centered: sex for sex's sake?

Can you really not imagine anything, anything at all, that you would sacrifice sex at least once? Can you really not imagine anything, anything at all, that might make it OK to tell someone like this one to accept the discomfort or disgust of this act? Not the love and concern that led to her clearning his excrements; not the belief that giving a terminally ill person -- one whom we at least at some point were in love with! -- something is in itself a good action and can be enjoyed as such (besides being morally good)?

Is sex really the summit of everything? Is there really no circumstance, absolutely no circumstance, in which it would be OK for someone to put up with something sexually disturbing? No purpose higher than sex itself, that would allow a person to make this sacrifice? Is it necessarily the case, under any circumstances, that someone like Dan, who is advising her to do that, has to be a douchebag?

I am really sorry for those so infatuated with sex as a self-centered thing ('sex for sex's sake, sex for the satisfiaction of the self') that they really can't see any purpose higher than justifying every orgasm, every masturbation, every sexual behavior as being oriented towards the sexual satisfaction of the person performing it. They are people who probably would accept all kinds of other sacrifices -- sacrifice your time, your money, your career, whatever; but don't sacrifice your sex, or your sexual feelings. No -- sexual disgust is so horrible (a fate worse than death, they'd probably say); and anything else is so much easier in comparison; that this should never, never, never be suggested, let alone strenuously advised as Dan did.

I am really sorry for people who think like that. You're missing something really fundamental about what it means to be a human being.
I don't see too many people saying she HAS to. A lot of people are pointing out that she'll probably regret not having done this for him later on and I do agree with that. But she is not under an obligation to do this -- any more than she was under the obligation to care for him earlier. Both of these are/were her choices.

I'm just hoping somewhere in Dan's reply and all these comments there's something helpful for her.
For the "hire a sex worker" crowd: Her husband doesn't want a sex worker. He isn't looking for someone to get him off. What he is looking for is intimacy with his wife, in the only way he sees that he can have it now.

There are few times that I think it is appropriate to bust out the "you don't know what it's like until you've been there," but this is one of them. Watching the person you love sicken and die is unimaginable until it happens. And being the one who is getting sick, knowing you are going to die... is just plain unimaginable.

He needs to feel close to his wife. If she can, if she can do anything to bear it, she should grant his request. I agree with all those who say she will regret it later if she does not.
Cloudgazer, you're a good example of what I mention. Really, this disgust is the worst thing you can think of, ever? Nothing ever could justify putting up with it, for no reason, no purpose? No cause so holy to deserve this sacrifice? Let humanity die in a nuclear holocaust, but do not face sexual disgust?

I am really sorry you feel like this. Maybe you were harmed, or know someone who were harmed, and for whom sex became a difficult enterprise, laden with all kinds of fears and flash-backs and PSTDs. I can understand that a harmed person could not do that.

But a normal, healthy, sexually active and sexually unharmed person? Do you really think such a person could never, ever see a worthy reason to put up with something 'sexually disgusting'? Not love, not one's ideals, not one's soul, not a loved one's live or happiness, nothing ever?

The whole 'express your sexuality' movement started out fighting against repression: against people who were afraid, or disgusted (ah! disgust again..) by their own sexual impulses actually accepting them and learning to take joy in them and their expression. But this repression (as a form of harm) still remains in the background: it probably is the source of the impression that sexual disgust is the worst possible thing, a fate worse than death itself.

But it is a misperception, based on a misunderstanding of what human beings are and what sex is for them.

I can only hope that, as people heal from their old socially-based repressions and grow to see sex as something really natural, such ideas will slowly disappear from our minds, together with the boogeymen and the monsters under our beds.
Backyard Bombardier, in principle I agree with you, with one caveat: we don't know for a fact that he wouldn't accept, or want, a sex worker instead of his wife. I would find it in general valid to ask the question (though in these circumstances one might imagine the husband quickly coming to the conclusion that the wife was 'too disgusted' by it and couldn't bring herself to do it -- with all the depressing consequences thereof).

Maybe the husband would like a sex worker. But indeed what he asked for was his wife. Communicating about this must be terribly difficult for them; it's difficult for her to express any displeasure with it without depressing him and making him suffer further, but if she can't talk about such things then the situation isn't fair for her either.

Is this really a situation in which a sincere discussion of the options would be so depressing and sad that it is better avoided? Do you think so?

If so, I suppose there's no way of asking about the sex worker. And this is yet another aspect of this situation that is terribly sad -- for him, and for her, too. Both people who suffer terribly without having done anything to deserve it.
BB is a sensitive feminist "male". Anyone who rests an argument on, "you need to feel it to understand," has lost. Disregard the no substitute will do crowd and hire a whore. Stimulate the, er--economy. Turn the lights out and be in the room talking. There are many ways to trick this gimp into a qualitatively identical experience without doing the disgusting...and it truly would be like fucking an immediate relative at this point. You don't want that, do ya? You won't forget it, and not in a good way.
Hopefully she'll act like a human being and do this for her husband. If you don't feel obligated to fulfill your partner's sexual needs you have no business being in an adult relationship.
@46: You don't have to understand it. Getting oral is a very different experience for women than it is from men. This might just be one of those things you have to accept at face value.

Also, won't he know she's faking it? These are people who've had a lot of sex together for a lot of years. He's gonna know she's not enjoying it. Maybe a gentle conversation along the lines of, "Honey, I'll do it, but I may not respond the way I used to..." is in order. I mean, wouldn't it be worse if he realized mid-act that she was trying not to gag?

And what if he wants to do this weekly from now on? He sounds like he's in a terrible way, but people with MS can stabilize at certain stages and remain there for a long time.
PugilistPuck, you're talking about deceiving her husband. I don't know -- maybe she'll be OK with that. But there's at least some chance that her love for him will make it so that she won't forget having lied to him about his last sexual desire. And not in a good way either.

It all depends on the kind of relationship and love these two people had.
And what if he wants to do this weekly from now on? He sounds like he's in a terrible way, but people with MS can stabilize at certain stages and remain there for a long time.

That is for them to work out between themselves. Personally, I'd continue to do it for as long as he could take it, as a sign of respect for the love we shared, just as I took care of him all this time. But I can understand her wanting to move away from this, and I think, if I were in his position, I could also understand that and actually let her go.
The nursing-home aspect of this for someone so young also made me think of former Slog commenter "elswinger" (Larry Davenport). Just wanted to mention him as it's a little over two years since he died.……

If ever I am in this situation, I will sit on my husband's face so fast he'd be mumbling into my muff mid request. For him, for the love I have for him, and probably, selfishly, for a flashback of what we once had. And here's the deal: my heart would fucking BREAK if I was the one in the hospital bed and I found out that my spouse would change my diaper but wouldn't let me lick his dick because he didn't "see me that way anymore." Then why the fuck are you still married to me? Jesus, you could have divorced me and cared for me as a good fucking friend, then. Just another blow of how a disease took away part of me.

Damn, we put a giant box around sex and make it into this hugely personal, private thing that we aren't allowed to give away (for free, anyway) except in the strictest circumstances. What's so bad about having a quickie to help a partner out when he or she is super horny and you are notnotnot in the mood? And how is MSS's situation different than that example? Because someday you WILL be in the mood in the quickie example? But MSS is already getting good sex! Can't she facilitate good sex for the man she still loves?

@63 Backyard, exactly!
@54, @58 I have encouraged her to do it, I just think we should have compassion for her, as well as him. I really appreciate advice from people who have been there, like Ricardo @48, saying that she should do it so that she can live with herself later. I like the other suggestions we've seen as far as getting privacy, talking dirty, masturbating for him, getting in the mood, even raising the idea of hiring a sex worker (11, 27, 30, 42, 60).

Contra 67, humans fall short all the time – anyone else ever put off a condolence note, or a visit to a sick friend or new mom? Just because we haven't been in her particular situation, doesn't mean that we all haven't let people down, one time or another. Be constructive; acknowledge the amazing work she has done for him; don't just tell her to suck it up.

MS sufferer by proxy@15 -- any ideas for other acts she could do with/for him?
@ 74, since she said that she regards him more like a child than a sexual adult, I'm not sure why any of the other suggestions you list, save for hiring a sex worker, would be any more appealing to her.
Someone made a good point (can't re-find it in this sea of comments) That her husband could still stabilise in this condition for a long time. That really makes a difference, I guess I was kind of thinking of it as a one off. In that case maybe it is worth going through the pain of talking about the issue with the husband (maybe with a therapist) in order to find a solution that gives him satisfaction. Sucking it up and just doing it may work a couple of times, but for months or years? That will just end up making her resentful and miserable, which i am sure the husband doesn't want.

@72 read 63
@55: Wow, that was beautiful.
The "hire a sex worker" idea is fairly revolting. Sorry honey, I can't bear to have your tongue touch me during your last painful days but I'll bring you a hooker. The folks above who thought that this might be acceptable are classless, selfish, frigid shells of a human beings.
Very upsetting that she wouldn't do it. Looks like almost everyone here agrees that she'll regret it. She asked for advice and yeah, she should do it. What a decent thing to do, and so much more important than handling shit.
@68: You don't have to understand it.

Umm, no, but I'd sure like to! And I'll bet it would help LW if she better understood what's beneath her reaction to her husband's request. Perhaps it's possible for her to mentally reframe the situation so that she feels less conflicted about obliging him.
I disagree about hiring a prostitute. It isn't only about sex for this man. His wife has been taking care of him for years, and she's probably not the only one who feels guilty. He wants to do something ADULT for her. He is trying to give back.

It won't work, but she should let him try.

Have a few drinks first, MSS. You'll be fine.
@32 I wasn't comparing a horrible disease to a wife letting herself go, you freaking mongoloid. Dan has posted some letters from husbands saying they no longer found their wives sexually attractive after putting on weight or not just looking desirable. Almost everyone calls the husband an asshole for not wanting to have sex with his wife anymore. While the wife , in this situation, is in a really horrible position, it's not like she has to conjure up an erection to help her poor husband out.
Give him something besides pudding to look forward to

This. So funny and sad and right on the nose all at the same time.

I've never confessed it before, but I always find that scene in Fight Club where the dying woman in the cancer support group asks if anyone in the group will have sex with her before she dies ("I've got weed!") to be seriously moving.

It's so easy for me to imagine why, nearing the oncoming descent into helplessness and death that leaves us alone even when the hospital bed is surrounded by family, the desire for sex, the life-creating act driven by a hunger that's strongest in our youth when death is so distant, would be so strong and made all the more painful by its unliklihood. If this woman can bring herself to do it, it'd be one hell of a gift.
Thank you, Kim @55 and weatherwax @72, for putting it so eloquently. As a female married for 21 years, I would respond as you have said. I don't really understand any other response for someone still in a marriage. Just my limited imagination, I guess.
Many of us end up doing these we really did not want to do for the sake of loved ones.

I am reminded of the sometimes immense profoundness of life in matters as this. So I am happy to be alive. And so I disdain self-loathing. I cannot help thinking that love of life would be meaningless without misery.
If the tables are turned I hope every man offers to do this for a dying woman without being asked. For as long as she likes.
Absolutely not. No way is she obligated to do this. No one should ever do things sexually that they don't want to. Terrible advice.
@75 Other acts might appeal more, or they might not. I like seandr's suggestion @80 that she really think about what aspect of this is disturbing to her (the mechanics, the sexuality with someone who feels like her brother, the longing for who he used to be, his approaching mortality, the oral sex itself...) Maybe talking to other people who have watched loved ones endure this terrible disease could help her figure out what part is making her feel sick.

@82 Dan tells people they need to take off the weight they put on since marriage. He says we have an obligation to do our best to remain attractive to our spouses.

Don't ever get married.

Buy yourself a T-shirt that says "I am not now and never will be GGG". Wear it on every first date as fair warning. Unless you're dating Newt Gingrich, then it's okay.

Find another column to comment on. I don't think you get this one.
Sometimes, something in you changes when you are faced with a situation like this. In order to deal with it, or because of dealing with it, a little bit of your heart hardens in a way you can't quite get back. If responders can't imagine it, I'm glad you'll never have the experience.

LW: Maybe it's as easy as reframing the request in your mind- he wants to be close to you, and you may not be ready to do it the way he wants. As suggested above, maybe take baby steps to remember the man you married and not just the person you helped stay alive will make it possible for you to get to where you can consider his request and meet it joyfully. But if it is a true disgust reaction, going on and doing it anyway will not be good for either one of you. Surely your husband will know and care that you are not coming willingly to it, and that probably isn't what he wants at the end of the day, either.

Be gentle, and kind, to yourself, and to him. Shut out things that hinder you from that. Try to find more compassion in yourself, and use it for both of you.
@81 He wants to do something ADULT for her. He is trying to give back.

Yes, though I disagree that it necessarily won't work. I'm not saying oral sex is going to magic away the horrible ravages of disease, but he's asking her - now that the pressures of full-time care are alleviated - to be intimate with him, and to revive something of the mutuality and sharing of their emotional and mental relationship. He's asking her to look beyond his body and see that he is still in there - the adult, giving, loving, attracted man (not the child or cripple) - and he wants to connect with her, take care of her, receive her.

Of course it would be easier for her to keep that part of herself - her intimacy, vulnerability, sexuality - away from him, given the pain of what they are going through. But if she can get herself to the place where she can *willingly* do this it could be the most extraordinary development possible in their emotional relationship, and a great gift for both of them. Letting go of the guilt about his being in care is an important part of this - he's in care because she is NOT his parent, but his wife, and although it's painful it could also be deeply healing for both of them if she can return to this role in some part.
@ 86. "If the tables are turned I hope every man offers to do this for a dying woman without being asked. For as long as she likes."

Yes, abso-fucking-lutely. If my wife was virtually paralyzed and on the verge of death and I knew that letting her roll my penis around in her mouth would make her feel loved and accepted then there's no fucking question that I'd do it and I wouldn't have to ask anyone for their advice about it. This is would be the woman that I stood across from and held her hand and promised that I'd be with her in sickness and health till death do us part. I can't even fathom letting her die not only frightened but rejected by her husband just to save myself 10 minutes a day of feeling "icky." Especially when you consider that I'd be out with my friends, having sex with whoever I want, virtually any time I want (as the LW is.)
The LW has moved on.
Her husband doesn't know about the great sex she is scoring.
She no longer thinks of her husband as a husband or even a man.
Wow, I'm fairly ashamed of all of the selfish people who are offended by Dan's advice. That is pretty much the whole point of marriage, and I realize that, no, it's not sexy...but she's getting her sexy-times elsewhere. Regardless of the care she has given him, as 91 pointed out, he isn't her child, but her partner. Get stoned and fake an it too much to ask to let yr. terminally ill partner not be humiliated for 15 minutes?
My thing is that I don't think this is really a "sexual" request. Yes, it's about sex, but I can 150% understand her feeling and believing like she is being asked to give up yet another thing to her husband. First she gives up her future dreams, then she gives up a big part of her life, then she "gives up" her husband to the care of the nursing home. Now she's being asked to literally "give up" herself, even though she doesn't want to. I think it's a fine request, and if she can come to peace with it then it would be a very generous gift. But I also think it's totally reasonable for one person to say that there are things that they just can't "give up" even to a spouse. It's not his fault, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have to live with the consequences.

By this account, this woman has been a wonderful wife and still is. But being a wonderful wife does not mean that she cannot be her own person with her own limitations. If she had written to Dan and said "I just can't change my husband's diapers," I very much doubt that everyone on this board would insist that she had to do it. We can see how that would be beyond the pale for many people. But that isn't where MSS drew the line; her line is at sex. Again, if she wants to redraw the line to include sex, that's fine. But I totally support her decision to say that she is just a valid person in that marriage as her husband, even though her husband's life sucks so so much.

I wish they both weren't in such an awful situation.
I hate to be a damper but, what happens when she doesn't get the least bit excited? What happens should he realize, either by look or reaction, that she finds the act disgusting? How will he handle that? Can she conceal it well enough that he won't find out? Because the only thing more devastating than your wife not wanting to have sex with you is finding out your wife secretly finds having sex with you disgusting mid-act. Especially if you've been fantasizing about it, fantasizing about the old days and the way it used to be. I can just imagine this going really, really wrong unless she is convincing, and im not sure that she can be.
This one crosses from "awesome advice" to "seriously skeevy advice" when it doesn't stop at, "It would be really great if you did, it's what I'd recommend, do your best to psych yourself up and see how it goes," etc. But when someone says that the idea of a sexual act disgusts them and they really don't want to do it, it's not okay to say that they "must" do it unless it's, like, to save the planet from nuclear annihilation or something.

Maybe she CAN psych herself up and it'll end up being a really positive thing. Maybe it will just be livable, which is fine. Maybe it will be an experience that makes her feel physically sick, violated, or traumatized. Maybe it will also damage what's left of her relationship with her husband and her future grieving process. I don't know. Maker's Mark or no Maker's Mark, it could go either way, which is why commanding her to do it and making it some imperative part of being a wife is not okay.

This woman has gone above and beyond for her husband already (because seriously, the point at which caring for me means my husband can't sleep for more than two hours at a stretch is the point at which I insist on getting help, not the beginning of YEARS of him doing just that). She's allowed to draw some boundaries.
I wish the folks who don't like Dan's advise would wear brightly colored armbands so prospective partners can avoid them like the frigid plague they are. Please do not get married. You don't deserve it.
I meant "advice" obviously.
The things we do for love. :)

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