What do you do when your husband won’t go to the doctor to talk about how he has no libido?
I’m back from quite the week! As I told you all last week, I had to fly out to Vancouver all of a sudden because we got word that my father was dying. I announced on Facebook that he passed away Friday morning, and told those who subscribe to my emails some of my thoughts about having a parent who you really didn’t know well pass away.
And now I’m home, and I’d like to get back to writing about marriage! So every Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it. Here’s a woman whose husband has no libido but he won’t go to the doctor:
I especially liked what you wrote on how to approach a spouse who isn’t interested in having sex. I found it to be the most gentle, respectful, and understanding wording I’ve ever seen for advice on this topic. I wanted to copy and paste it word for word to my husband, but I’ve written him long texts in the past on this topic, and he told me that as soon as he sees it’s about sex he stops reading. He asked me nicely to stop talking about this, but I don’t know what to do but keep talking. He hasn’t initiated sex in over two years, and in that time we’ve only had sex 4 times (3 times last year), all with no participation on his part; no kissing, no touching, he can’t even open his eyes unless they’re glued to the Facebook feed on his cell phone which ALWAYS seems more important when I’m trying to engage his interest. He’s told me it’s not me, that he’s just getting older and it’s just a fact of life (he’s only 46). I want to encourage him to see his doctor to find out if there is something wrong, but anytime I bring it up, even trying to be as gentle and understanding as I can (I don’t yell, or say anything after a failed attempt at love making, etc.) he flies off the handle, tells me I’m being selfish, and tells me it’s conversations like this that turn him off. I asked if he could simply check to see if he could switch his cholesterol medication, because I read that some of those can effect libido, and he wouldn’t hear of it. He won’t quit smoking, change his unhealthy eating habits, get his testosterone levels checked, etc. He says it’s his body and he’ll do what he wants with it. I’m at my wit’s end.
She gave some more information on how he reacted with sexual problems in past relationships, and she’s just plain really hurt.
I don’t blame her.
I often say when I give my Girl Talk (my talk about sex that I give in churches) that it’s always hardest to be the spouse with the higher sex drive; and if you are that spouse, it’s worse when you’re the wife, because at least if you’re a guy there’s an expectation that you’ll be the one who wants sex more. When you’re the woman, people aren’t used to it and there isn’t the support there.
So this is a really rough place.
Let’s try to dissect this a little bit. I want to tackle the fact that he won’t address his low libido, and then tomorrow give some thoughts about guys going to see the doctor in general (because many women have trouble getting their husbands to go for a check-up!).
First: What to do when your husband won’t address his low libido
The spouse with the low libido really has no incentive on their own to address the problem. They’re often fine with the way things are, and they could keep going like that forever. They don’t feel the lack of sex in the same way.
Now, people only change when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of changing. For many people, there isn’t a lot of pain in staying the same.
What you would hope is that a spouse would feel your pain and be motivated by that to do something; most spouses, I think, are. That’s part of marriage–when our spouse hurts, we should hurt, too.
And certainly when we can talk about it in a healthy way, our spouses should be motivated to make changes. In that vein, I’ve written before some posts that can help with this:
It explains how to make the topic about intimacy, not your physical needs. Focusing on your physical needs can turn him off right away, and make you seem pathetic (even though you’re totally not!). Talking instead about what this is doing to you as a couple, and what you really want for you as a couple, can help him see that change does need to come.
For most people, this approach will work. Most people honestly may no see the pain they’re causing their spouse, and they may just need this reality check to get them on the right path.
But what if he doesn’t understand and still doesn’t seem to care? Here’s where I encourage you to address the problem and not take no for an answer. If he doesn’t want to talk about it–that doesn’t mean that you have to let it go. And I show you how to be firm, because this is important. This isn’t something that you should just let go. So if you need a game plan and a pep talk and permission to feel upset about this, check out that post!
Many people are selfish.
The simple truth is that many people are selfish and don’t really care what other people think. And many people are not interested in personal growth. They’re quite content to stay exactly the way they are, and if you challenge them, they’ll say something like, “You should love me just the way I am”, as if the problem is you. It’s not. All of us are supposed to be growing. We’re supposed to be being transformed to look like Christ (Romans 8:29). We’re supposed to be “working out our salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). We’re supposed to grow!
If you’re married to someone who is supremely self-focused, and isn’t interested in doing anything they don’t want to do, then you have a bigger problem. You can try to convince them until you’re blue in the face that life would be better if they changed, but they may not care because their only motivator is their own feelings. That’s a hard place to be, and it means that you’ve married someone immature. A sign of maturity is choosing to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t line up with what you want to do in the here and now.
In that case, it may be best to approach him not by trying to convince him to change (since it may not work), but instead by making it clear that him doing nothing will no longer be tolerated. He is damaging himself and the relationship, and it is not loving to allow this to continue. The post on living in a sexless marriage will help with that.
Second: What if your husband won’t go to the doctor at all?
Maybe your problem isn’t that your husband has a low libido, but that he won’t go to the doctor at all. Many men hate going to see a physician, and so they prolong things far too long. I have a good friend whose husband refused for a year of stomach pains to go to the doctor, and when he finally did go when the pain got too intense, they diagnosed Stage IV colon cancer. If he had gone in the first place, there may have been a different outcome.
Guys should start going for an annual checkup at age 50, but should go sooner than that if there is a history of some cancers or some heart problems, or if they have an acute problem.
So what if your husband has an issue and he doesn’t want to go see a doctor?
I’m going to write 10 ideas about how to get your husband to the doctor in a follow-up post tomorrow, so tune in for that! (there just isn’t room to include it all today!) And if you have any great suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to incorporate them.
So let me know in the comments: Does your husband refuse to address a big issue in your marriage? How have you handled that? And how do you get your husband to see the doctor?