Intimacy, Affairs, and the Brain

I read with some interest a recent article in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday, November 3, 2009 about caregivers of spouses with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) who find new companions for love. The article questioned whether such behavior could be considered adultery?

We have nearly 5 million Americans with AD and at least that many at risk. The number of those with AD will likely continue to grow to as many as 15 million by 2050. A recent survey reported there will be nearly 35 million with AD across the planet. Many of those suffering AD are married and the healthy spouse can serve the role of caregiver for many years, including a significant amount of time when their spouse with AD no longer recognizes them. The role of caregiver is difficult and ripe with emotional, physical, and financial stress. The article in the Wall Street Journal raises another stressor which is the idea that the healthy spouse may be without intimacy, love, and companionship for many years.

It is nearly impossible to understand how emotionally difficult it must be to care for a spouse with AD. Some describe AD as two deaths, one when you are told about the diagnosis and the second with the actual physical death of your loved one. Along the course of AD, a spouse will no longer recognize his or her partner. A healthy spouse who provides care to their partner with AD is vulnerable to loneliness, depression, and ongoing loss. How does one cope with loss of the emotional connection or loss of love in the traditional sense when your spouse is physically still present?

The Journal article raises many thoughts and ideas that do not have easy answers. I think it points out that we need to support even more our caregivers who dedicate so much of their time to their spouses with AD.

11 thoughts on “Intimacy, Affairs, and the Brain

  1. Garrett R Gustkey

    Who ever started a subject and said that A.D. was a cause of Cheating on thier spouse is out of touch. And probably guilty of adultery themselves (IMHO), What is true though is that each of us are tempted and led away from our heart by temptation by our own lust. You can blame a psychosis,if you want. But the final decision to commit to a physical union (an affair) to another person is not a disease.It is plain old simple sin. Each person is responsible for the final act of sin. If you want to know the truth read the Bible and Be set free from the lies we tell ourselves. The Battle is in the mind of every person.it does not matter if you are a believer in Jesus Christ or not. What does matter is this,You are committed to living a life dedicated to Christ Jesus.Everyone is called to know Christ. If you are alive you are a target.By Satan.Pure and simple. Each persons own temptation for lust, that comes along is meant to strength us, by saying NO. Giving in to our own desires for enticement weakens our moral character.To stand strong in the face of adversity is to look that part of our sin nature (ourselves) in the face and make a conscious decision to be our best manifested selves. God gave us each these choices. what we choose to do with those choices is each our own responsibility.

  2. E wood Mason

    Isn’t a large part of calling ones self a Christian having compassion for others irrespective of the circumstances.
    I understand “till death do us part,” but if one is to be a caring partner/caregiver it is imperative that she or he stave off depression in any way they can. A depressed caregiver is a cranky caregiver and often not as patient as they ought to be.
    I have a feeling that our compassionate, forgiving Savior will understand.

  3. connie magee

    One does not have to committ adultery or have an affair to find companionship and intimacy. There are many people looking for companionship, friendship, purpose, etc. with hearts of compassion. The partner with AD often has widowed friends who could share the love and compassion for the afflicted spouse as well as the giving of care. The two could provide companionship for each other. There are good people with loving hearts who are alone and would love to be needed to provide for the caregiver and his/her spouse. Sex within an affair would not provide intimacy, but rather feelings of guilt that could last far longer than the illness. However, two people who share in the love, care, and compassion for the one who has been robbed of that right and privilege would unfold an intimacy between hearts that could never be found between the sheets.

  4. L. Warren

    ‘ The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly, has made the world evil and ugly.’
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  5. Lori Pinley

    It is a very long game, with an engaging story. It can be a bit frustrating, but the in-game hints are very helpful, and I’ve posted a short list of “translations” in the game area. ie. What they ask for and what they really mean. BigFishGames Fan.

  6. AJ

    In response to the quote Lori posted-
    If a Christian is genuinely a Bible-reading, Bible-believing Christian, who has a personal relationship with Jesus, then the world will reflect the beauty, awesomeness, and majesty of it’s Perfect Creator.
    The WORLD isn’t evil. Satan, the RULER of this world(John 13:21) is “evil and ugly”, seeking only to kill, steal, and destroy. Satan knows that the best way to hurt God is by hurting the ones He loves.
    As a Christian, I think this world God created is filled with beauty and awe-inspiring goodness. Yet, even though it’s impossible for my finite mind to fully grasp, the best is still yet to come! (Read Revelation, if you don’t know what I’m talking about!)

  7. denisebryant

    After reading the story and the comments, I have a question. How many of you are/have been a caregiver to a spouse? One reply was quite intense on preaching but I know what the Bible says and don’t need to be preached too. I am a traumatic brain injury survivor and the rewards can be few. Can you imagine being 45 years old and no intimacy in your life? No hand holding, cuddling, nothing….My life ended on 1/24/2006. It will never be the same as I once knew it.

  8. Biogetica

    I do not even know how I ended up right here, but I believed this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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