How did a nice girl like me … end up in a marriage like this?
That’s what you’re wondering. You’ve been married for 10, 15, 20 years, and you can’t understand what happened. The thing that attracted you most about him was that lovely shiver he sent down your spine when he kissed the back of your neck, but he hasn’t even seen the back of your neck for months! Whut hap’n’d?
It’s like you just woke up one day and realized that you and your husband had turned into roommates! He’s still warm and affectionate with you, but he would just as soon snuggle with you on the sofa as throw you on the bed and have his way with you. His sex drive seems to be missing in action. It shows up once in a while if the planets align in just the right way, but that guy who couldn’t wait to pounce on you is nowhere to be seen. Where did he go? It’s a mystery.
Along with his missing libido, some other things have disappeared … his energy, his motivation, and his sense of fun. He spends a lot more time falling asleep in front of the TV than he used to. While he chalks it up to a stressful job and getting older, you know there has to be more to it than that. He’s too young to feel so old!
You’ve taken stock of the situation and ruled out the more obvious culprits; he’s not having an affair, he’s not gay, and he’s not addicted to porn. What’s left?
Well, it’s possible that what you’re dealing with is a hormonal problem called low testosterone. That sounds quite sinister, but low testosterone is actually fairly simple to treat. Of all the things that can affect energy and sex drive, low testosterone is by far one of the most common, and compared to an affair, etc., it’s also the easiest to deal with.
Where do you go from here?
So, now what? It sounds possible that low testosterone may be the problem, but what’s the next step?
You’d like your husband to get his testosterone level tested, but he flat out refuses to do it. This is really normal. Most men want to get their testosterone levels tested about as much as most women want to do a mammogram. For the same reason … fear. For the most part, men are terrified to find that their T levels are low. Even the thought of it feels like a punch in the gut to a guy.
When I first met with such resistance from my husband, I was convinced that it meant he didn’t care enough about me or our marriage to want to fix things. I was so focused on my own feelings of rejection and pain, and my fear that he no longer found me attractive, that I couldn’t see how threatened or afraid he was feeling. We got into a horrible negative cycle where both of us felt misunderstood and unloved.
In dealing with a lot of men and women who are in low T marriages, I have come to understand that my husband’s reactions had nothing to do with me and everything to do with his own fear. The thought that his equipment might be broken was terrifying to him and threatened his identity as a man. It was far less painful to him to live in a state of denial and bury his head in the sand than to face the fact that his hormones had run amok.
Part of your solution is going to involve getting past your own pain and feelings of rejection, and looking at this in a much more pragmatic way. It’s a medical problem … like diabetes or thyroid dysfunction. Even though you’re affected, it really has nothing to do with you or how attractive you are. I learned to think of it like a traffic jam; it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t cause it, I just had to find a way around it.
The next part is that you need to educate yourself about low testosterone and how to find out whether it’s even a problem. There’s a ton of good information in Testosterone 101. Start there and learn the facts about low T.
Once you do that, you will be able to approach your husband calmly and rationally, letting him know that it’s not okay for him to ignore a medical problem, and help him find the path forward. He may not be happy about getting his levels checked, but it’s a necessary step. No different than going to the dentist when you have a toothache.
I know you may be feeling discouraged at this point. The years of sexual rejection and low energy have taken their toll. Let me tell you that it can get better. Other people have been where you are and come out on the other side, including me. I understand the pain of feeling invisible to your husband, the lingerie drawer that never gets opened because he’d rather look at the TV than look at you, the awkward sexual encounters that fizzle out almost before they get started. I get it. I’ve been there.
Take that first step. What you need now is a plan to get you out of the morass and move you forward. You don’t have to continue living like roommates. There is help at hand, but it starts with you. You just have to take that first step.