Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for 20 years. Unfortunately, I had to have a colostomy last year and now use a colostomy bag. Prior to my surgery, I was having trouble with regard to our sexual frequency. My menopause years were horrible, and I couldn’t take hormones due to a strong family history of breast cancer.
Now I have a terrible body image and can’t even think about sex. My husband, however, has a strong libido and has been finding other outlets. I know he has visited several porn sites on our computer, and I found a stash of hard-core porn videos in our home. I also came across some sexually explicit e-mails to women I don’t know, but who I think are co-workers.
Haven’t I already been through enough without all this? If the tables were turned and he had to have his testicles removed due to cancer, I would not be doing the things he is doing behind my back. He refuses counseling. He reads your column, and I would appreciate a response. – Had Enough
Dear Had Enough: We wouldn’t exactly compare a colostomy to having a man’s testicles removed, but we understand your distress. Still, you can’t expect your husband to be less interested in sex simply because you are. For the sake of your marriage, we think you should make the effort to get back in the game.
Here’s some information and advice from the Mayo Clinic:
“If you feel less attractive with your ostomy, take your return to intimacy slowly. Take steps to feel more confident. Empty and clean your ostomy pouch. Check the seal to make sure it’s tight. Use an opaque pouch or try a pouch cover. Lingerie and cummerbunds made to conceal a pouch or hold it in place are available from specialty retailers. You might find that some sexual positions put pressure on your ostomy and are uncomfortable. Experiment with new positions, such as lying on your side.”
You can get more information and find a support group through the United Ostomy Associations of America (uoaa.org) at (800) 826-0826.
Dear Annie: I sent a bar mitzvah invitation to a cousin in California. He not only didn’t RSVP or call to wish us congratulations, but he gave his mother a check to send along with hers. When I deposited the check, it was returned for insufficient funds, which cost me $15. Please tell me the correct way to handle this delicate situation. – Marilyn
Dear Marilyn: There’s nothing you can do without being equally rude. Your cousin sounds etiquette challenged. He will learn from his bank that the check was returned for insufficient funds and can then choose to replace it or not. But we’re afraid you’re out the $15. Sorry.
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