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6 Tips on How to Talk to Your Husband About His Incontinence

Talking to your husband about his incontinence can be a sensitive and emotional topic, but...

senior woman sitting on sofa thinking about how to talk to a loved one about incontinence

You've come to the point where you have to figure out how to help him.

Neither of you are kids anymore, and even though you do a lot to stay active and healthy, certain physical things are happening that you can’t control or deny.

Like male incontinence.

When you do his laundry, it’s obvious, isn’t it? He’s having trouble.

You can almost feel his embarrassment, his anxiety, his flat-out fear that one day there will be a visible “accident” at the worst possible moment, with others or with you.

Maybe accidents have already happened, and he’s anxious to deny the reality and hide it (even from himself).

You want to do something to make him feel better, more secure. But that means bringing up the topic: dealing with incontinence. And I know that’s hard, for you and for him.

Because, yes, we men are sensitive about this issue. Loss of control in this part of our bodies can make us feel like we’re losing control of our lives, and plunge us into shame and hopelessness. And no, we don’t want to talk about it, because talking about it brings those feelings up.

So having this conversation is a challenge, for you and for him. But if it's done the right way, at the right time, with love and respect, he just might be comforted that he doesn't have to hide it anymore. That he's not alone. And, remember, even though it's a difficult conversation, it's coming out of the love and respect you have for him.

To Help Your Husband with his Incontinence, the First Step is to Talk to Him About it

6 Tips on How to Plan the Incontinence Conversation

    1. Get yourself in the right mind set. Approach the conversation from a place of love and respect.

    2. Choose a conversation opener that will put him at ease. Imagine how he'll feel when you do raise the incontinence topic, and try to choose an opener that speaks reassuringly to those feeling. That's right, try to take away his fears and sensitivities before he has them. One important need we men have is to feel respected.

    The r-word is really high on the list of things we need, especially from our mates. We need to feel competent, contributing, effective in our spheres of life, and incontinence can hollow out those feelings.

    For many of us, incontinence sounds too much like incompetence. So, it's important that what you say and do in the conversation shows your guy that he’s valued no matter what’s going on in his body.

    3. Next, choose the tone. Certainly not angry or scolding--but not worried either. Get on his side from the get-go, with empathy and in a spirit of “this isn’t a strange or shameful thing.”

    If you’ve had problems in this area--and I know that many women have--mention it. “Honey, I’m noticing that you might have some issues with your bladder. I’ve had them, and I know that it’s a really common thing at our age. It makes me feel really uncomfortable, and I’m guessing it makes you feel uncomfortable too.”

    Remind him that you want to be “on his team” as he deals with incontinence, and that what you want for him is relief from worry--so that he can be happy.

      4. Then, choose the time and place. The right time is, of course, not right after he’s had an accident and is feeling miserable and vulnerable. Pick a time when he’s feeling good, and have the conversation in an area that’s not--how shall I put this?--emotionally charged, like the bathroom or the bedroom.

      5. And suggest what to do about it. A little prior research on your part can give him a lift. Check out the major types of male incontinence and ask him if any apply. Have there been other changes that might be contributing?

      Let him know that there are good ways to manage the condition and that he’s far from helpless. And, importantly, let him know that consulting a doctor is wise, since a medical condition could be the cause. Even print out or show him information that might help him see the range of solutions and options available, and to take action.

      Zorbies customers have been so generous in providing product reviews, and some have even mentioned their situations. See if any might resonate, and show them to him. Other articles you may find helpful: Dribbling after urination and what you can do about it. Male urinary incontinence product options.

      This may also help. Zorbies customers choose us because our products look and feel like regular underwear; that takes away the emotion and stigma of wearing 'diapers'. And, they work and are really comfortable. Plus, they are actually luxury products that took quite a bit of 'engineering' to get right. If your guy is into how complex systems work, you could mention the engineering of Zorbies men's products: up to eight layers with different functions. He might just get hooked on the material tech! Whatever your approach, try to give him what he needs to make his decision to take action as easy as possible for him.

      6. If the conversation goes well...Try to get agreement from him to take the first step, promptly. If he'll take the action that's great. If not, offer to do it for him. Do whatever you can to make his decision to take action as easy as possible for him.

      If the conversation doesn't go well let it rest and try again when you think the time might be right.

      The incontinence conversation isn’t easy, but done the right way it’s a terrific act of love, and your man will feel the love--and the all-important respect--that you have for him.

      senior couple looking at a laptop screen together

        6 Tips on How to Talk to a Loved One about Managing Male Incontinence

      1. Get yourself in the right mind set. Always come from a place of love and respect.

      2. Start the conversation in a reassuring way. Try to calm the fears and sensitivities you think he might have right upfront. Start with general well-being questions, “honey, you’ve seemed a little down lately, everything OK?” Then reassurance “you know we can face and get through anything together, right?”

      3. Have the right tone. Supportive, empathetic and helpful so he knows he's not alone, that you're on his team. “Honey, I’m noticing that you might have some issues with your bladder. I’ve had them, and I know that it’s a really common thing at our age." Don’t give off angry or frustrated vibes.

      4. Choose the right time and place. When he's relaxed and feeling good. Pick a 'neutral' place, not one that is emotionally charged, so not the bedroom or bathroom.

      5. Suggest what to do about it. Before the conversation do some research to educate yourself on the range of options available. Let him know that there are ways to manage the situation, that there is a way forward, together.

      Try to make him understand that taking action will put him back in charge; it's doing nothing that will make him feel powerless and deflated. And, let him know that consulting a doctor is wise, since a medical condition could be the cause. 

      Discuss the options, if he's open to it. Try to get a feel for which he might be willing to act on as a first step. If he's not ready for further discussion give him print outs of the information so he can read about them in his own time.

      6. If the conversation goes well...Try to get agreement from him to take the first step, promptly. If he'll take the action that's great. If not, offer to do it for him. Do whatever you can to make his decision to take action as easy as possible for him.

      If the conversation doesn't go well let it rest and try again when you think the time might be right.

      No doubt that it's a delicate topic. So, we hope this article has given you thoughtful ways to approach the conversation. And good luck. On behalf of men everywhere, thanks for caring enough to bring up a tough topic, and for following through with love.