There are many ways to stay connected to your partner, even if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are in pain, especially if you’re willing to be creative. That’s what’s most important, experts say, especially for those with a chronic illness. “Have as much fun as you can every chance you get,” advises Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist and author. “Make it a challenge to discover new ways to enjoy each other, and to relax and laugh together.”
Here are six ways to bring more intimacy into your relationship:
- Help your partner understand.
You know your physical limitations, but does your partner? Take him or her to your next doctor’s appointment to learn more about RA. This will enable your partner to give you more support, and ultimately, lead to greater shared knowledge and a deeper connection.
- Be open.
Before you share an intimate moment, let your partner know what type of pain or what physical limitations you’re experiencing. Explain how these might affect intercourse. Talk about new positions you can explore together for a more enjoyable experience. By telling your lover in advance, you’ll avoid any awkwardness when you are “in the moment.”
- Ask for special treatment.
If you are experiencing pain or feeling sore before an intimate moment, include a massage or warm bath as part of your time together. Touching is always a good way to keep the physical connection alive.
- Look for new ways to connect.
If you are too sore or tired for physical intimacy, don’t beat yourself up. There are other ways to show your feelings and spark romance. Try holding hands, taking a walk in nature together or listening to music. Good conversation about shared dreams of the future is great, too.
- Find activities to enjoy together.
Do things that both of you are passionate about, such as attending a cultural event or helping others, says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, PhD, psychologist and physical therapist. “Staying emotionally connected helps your relationship.”
- Exercise regularly.
“It’s a great way to improve self-confidence, energy, happiness and libido,” says Dr. Lombardo. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to find exercises that are appropriate for your condition. Then take your partner’s hand and head to the pool, track or gym—together!