Receiving a dx of Prostate Cancer was a shock to my emotional, relational, and sexual life. If you're like me, my libido which was at a 10 before my diagnosis dropped down to zero after I received my biopsy results. While surgery cured me of cancer, being cured of cancer didn't bring back my libido.
I was surprised how devastated I was when I could not regain erectile functioning. I felt as though my manhood and usefulness as man was taken away and would not and could not be repaired. Back in the day, kissing or touching my wife could produce an erection. Now there wasn't anything she could say or do that would get a rise from me. My wife felt awful and I felt awful, but we could not comfort one another because I didn't want to think or talk about my impotence. I withdrew emotionally. I carefully avoided all physical contact which only served to remind me of my impotence.
At my lowest point, I gallantly used what little manhood I had left to inform my wife that I hereby release her from her wedding vow to stay with me in sickness and in health. I told her it was time for her to find a man who could love her in the way she needed to be loved. At the time I thought this was a loving, kind and generous offer.
I was surprised that my wife didn't react with joy and take me up on my magnanimous offer. Rather than feel released and free to find another man, she was both hurt and angry that I would suggest such a thing to her. What I realize now is my offer to release my wife of our wedding vows
was a very selfish offer. My wife's very presence reminded me of my
impotence, shame and loss of manhood. I thought I'd feel better if I
were left alone.
How could I forget how much my wife needed to be held, cuddled, touched affectionately and kissed. How could I forget the power of speaking loving and tender words to each other. Looking back I don't think it was a matter of forgetting, but rather all of these behaviors were bitter reminders to me that I was impotent, so I avoided them like the plague. As a result I suffered alone, my wife suffered alone, and our marriage together suffered.
Fortunately I was blessed with a woman who had a Biblical view of marriage as a covenant that would not and could not be broken. She knew I had no power to release her from the covenant we made together on our wedding day. Therefore, she was ready, willing, and able to fight to
keep our relationship alive at a point when I felt useless and dead
inside. It took me a few years before I was ready to enlist and join my wife in the battle to restore our relationship.
It wasn't an easy lesson to learn that manhood has little to do with your erectile abilities. My Lord and Savior Jesus was for me, the definition of a man's man. He knew how to love others sacrificially. His capacity to love and act like a man was not in the least bit connected to His erectile abilities.
I realized that God was giving me the opportunity through my experiences with erectile dysfunction to learn a new definition of being a man.
Since I was married, I realized the Lord was also providing me with the opportunity to learn more about my sexuality and my wife's sexuality to enable us to enjoy mutually exciting and satisfying sex together that wasn't dependent upon my having an erection. We created a new and satisfying sex life together which was a delightful surprise to me.
My challenge to every man coping with erectile dysfunction is don't give up. Meet the challenge. Find ways to enjoy the sexuality you have left. In addition to finding new ways to enjoy your sexuality, strengthen your love for one another.
This is the best definition of love I've ever read. Not one of these characteristics require an erection. If you love your partner like this, they will feel blessed.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:4-8 NKJV)
Rick & Brenda Redner are Co-Authors of the book
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?