Sometimes in relationships, issues of physical health have a negative effect on the relationships and aren’t as obvious as a chronic or other easily diagnosable health condition. Consider the following story:
A woman’s husband comes home from work and acts withdrawn. He goes to his room and prefers silence and solitude instead of playing with the kids and talking about his day. It’s been a long time since he has shown any affection toward his wife. She asks him what’s wrong, even the children are confused, but he says he’s fine. This goes on for weeks, maybe even months. After fifteen years of a stable marriage, she begins to have doubts about the relationship and her insecurities skyrocket. Maybe he doesn’t loves her anymore? Maybe he’s having an affair? After racking her brain and heart trying to figure out what’s wrong, she finally decides it’s time to see a therapist to help fix the marriage.
Some of the first questions a therapist asks her husband during the initial assessment have to do with his current medications, his personal medical history, and his family of origin. He has never had a serious medical concern and he doesn’t take any prescribed medications. her husband explains that he has always been healthy but lately he just doesn’t enjoy things in his life like in the past, he’s tired all the time, he doesn’t feel like having sex, and he feels like he’s failing as a husband and a father.
Then the therapist asks, “When is the last time you had a physical?” It’s been over five years. The therapist gives him a homework assignment to see a doctor and explains that if everything checks out fine, come back in two weeks.
His doctor runs some tests and discovers that his testosterone level is really low. After receiving some testosterone injections his energy and stamina increase, his sex drive returns, and he seems like his “old self”. Marital therapy doesn’t seem so necessary anymore.
Some Things a Therapist Just Can’t Fix
There is nothing a therapist can do to combat biology. Years of marital therapy will never fix someone’s hereditary, irregular hormone levels, a thyroid problem, etc. Sometimes a quick trip to a medical doctor can expose the root of the relationship problem.
Everyone, especially those over 50, should receive an annual physical exam. In the case study above it had been over five years since the husband had had one. His symptoms were typical of a male with low testosterone, yet instead of seeing a doctor, his wife was left to worry that he was no longer invested in his marriage or his family. These types of health issues are at the root of relationships problems in many marriages.
Every professional has a “scope of practice”. A medical doctor can’t prescribe a pill to fix an affair. By the same token, a therapist can’t talk to a client to fix their thyroid problem. Time, money, and sometimes even relationships can be saved by receiving regular physical examinations.
Feel like you need to check the health of your relationship? Try completing the RELATE assessment today!