if you giggle like a 13 year old girl when the word penis is mentioned or if the idea of erectile dysfunction freaks you right out, stop reading. i shortened this email as much as possible, but there’s a lot in it that needs to be addressed, so hold on to your butts.
A little backstory: the last 2 years in our marriage have been painful. We both were laid off around the same time; I found work quickly, whereas he didn’t, so he spent a year and a half at home wallowing. He’s had problems with depression and anxiety in the past but when he takes his medication, those are kept in-check, and those down times usually lasted only a few days or couple weeks. But since our touble started, he’s become only half the man he used to be. We don’t interact like a couple anymore; all intimate contact has ceased — both physical and emotional. He sleeps on the couch.
He has pretty much dropped all of his favorite hobbies. His depression and anxiety have worsened, despite keeping with his medicine regiment. He tells me he’s worthless. He’s working again, which has helped some. I nagged him into attending a couple sessions of marriage counseling, but he doesn’t believe in counseling or that it will help. He tells me that he loves me, but is not in love with me. He says he feels no attraction for me or anyone else. He thinks that he’s too broken and tells me that I should go find someone else to make me happy while I’m still young (mid 30’s).
Everything I’ve read so far sounds a lot like E.D. or Low T. I’ve spoken with a couple friends who work in the medical industry and they both agreed that it’s possible. He won’t talk to our doctor about it though and doesn’t believe anything is wrong with him medically. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells to avoid an argument, though some days I purposely provoke him to make him deal with or acknowledge me. I love my husband very much and miss the man he was. I want to do something, but don’t know what I can do. How can I bring this up and convince him that there might possibly be a real problem without making him feel less of a man or insulting his manhood? Communication has always been a problem of ours, and both of us are short-tempered, but on “good days” he says he hopes he can get back to where he was and us be happy again.
Frustrated and Hurt
i need to preface this with reminding you and everyone reading this that i am not a medical or psychological professional. i am a only a practical professional. and even that’s a stretch…
that said, i do know something about being on depression/anxiety meds. the things you are describing about your husband definitely sound like the symptoms of low testosterone, but they also sound like the symptoms of what can happen if someone is on the wrong depression meds.
having spent some time on meds myself, i can tell you that lack of sexual arousal and a flat-line of any feeling of emotional intimacy can be a side effect. it’s why i no longer take them. i made a choice to deal with my depression rather than cut off my emotions entirely.
so should you have him talk to his doctor? yes. i would approach it from the possibility that he might be on the wrong meds and leave the possibility of erectile dysfunction out of it. he might be more receptive to seeing his doctor if he’s going in to talk about changing his meds as opposed to his nether regions not working properly. the fact that he has days or weeks of depression while on the meds is a big red flag to me they are not working properly.
offer to go with him so you can help give the doctor a complete picture of what is happening. if he will go but won’t take you with him, get his word that he will talk about all of the “side-effects”; including the lack of sexual intimacy. again, tell him he needs to ask if his meds could be responsible. if his doctor is any good, he will explore all the possibilities that might be causing it.
make it about his meds. not about him.
if he still refuses…this is where it gets hard. you might have to get harsh, but not in a way that is angry or frustrated. you are going to have to keep your “short fuse” in check. a short fuse is a lack of self control; manage it. you are the only one in a head space to maintain reason at the moment, so you’re going to have to step up. be kind, be direct, be reasonable.
if he won’t go to his doctor, you’re going to have to explain what a lack of manhood really is. it is not a functioning penis; though this is clearly very important to every man on the planet. a lack of manhood is when a man refuses to face the issues effecting his family. it’s got nothing to do with his sexuality. it’s got everything to do with his courage and willingness to do whatever he can to keep his family/marriage in tact.
let him know you are not asking for things to change overnight, you are only asking for him to go see his doctor. if he won’t, you need to get some individual counseling about your next step.
i will never be the one to tell you when you should surrender and move on from a marriage without knowing both of you personally. and even then, i still probably won’t.
i will say that in this case, i have hope. it certainly sounds like a medical condition to me. i would just encourage you to do what you can to get him to a doctor. don’t make it easy on him. let him know you’re not going anywhere until he sees his doctor. he’s taking the coward’s way out by trying to get you to be the one to leave. you are going to have to be brave enough for the both of you for a while.
oh so sincerely,
okay readers, do you have any suggestions for our friend?
any medical professionals who think i could be right or completely full of it?