The Strangers We Live With: Maybe Birth Control, Food & Aging Dooms Our Relationships

Comments 61
Sinkholes open without warning, sometimes destroying things and killing people. I think body chemistry might work that way, too. (Image/CNN)

Even the most-honest people lie sometimes.

When we love or even just like someone, the last thing we want to tell them is that we don’t like their new haircut, or that the meal they just prepared for us tastes gross, or that their ass totally looks fat in those jeans.

Maybe that’s not a “lie.” When you’re trying to protect someone’s feelings. Or maybe it is, but it’s not bad due to its noble intentions.

Or maybe a lie is a lie, and it’s ultimately bad no matter how well-intentioned it is because dishonesty is NEVER better than honesty. I don’t think we’ll ever know because humans are never going to collectively start telling the whole truth.

So, maybe we’ll never really know why attraction went away and they left. Or why we chose someone else. Or why love died. Or whether love and attraction were ever present in the first place.

Maybe everyone has a secret they’ll never tell. And maybe being afraid of everyone, or even just one person, discovering that secret will keep us “lying” our entire lives.

Maybe those lies—or rather undiscovered truths—will prevent us from ever “solving” the problems that harm or end our relationships, sometimes ruining our lives.

Maybe we never really know someone all the way.

And, just maybe, even if we do know someone all the way, they don’t always stay the person we’ve gotten to know.

And, just maybe, we don’t always stay the person we think we’ve gotten to know.

And, just maybe, when you can no longer recognize yourself in the mirror, all bets are off.

Why Do So Many Relationships Go Bad?

Let the record show that until proven otherwise, I maintain the stance that Shitty Husbandry (which is mostly accidental) is the No. 1 cause of failed marriages and divorce.

But there’s something else that happens to people which we’ve rarely, if ever, discussed here. All humans are affected by changing hormone levels and body chemistry at different points in our lives for various reasons. And while I’m no science whiz, I’m reasonably confident in saying that, when you change something’s literal chemistry, that thing always changes into another thing.

You don’t even have to change the actual building blocks to change something into something else.

Mix carbon and oxygen so that there are two units of oxygen for every unit of carbon, and you get carbon dioxide (CO2), which is our friend, and used by trees and grass to produce breathable air.

By simply reducing by half the amount of oxygen in the equation, you create carbon monoxide (CO). And if you don’t know, that shit will kill you.

The difference between Life and Death.

All because you changed the amount of one of just two basic ingredients.

Which begs the questions, I think:

Can changes in our hormone levels—our literal body chemistry—turn us into entirely different people?

Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people who sometimes transition into people unattracted to, or incompatible with our partners?

Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people, and that sometimes, our partners don’t like nor are attracted to the new and different versions of us?

Isn’t it possible that we all end up living with strangers or discovering them in our reflections, and that when one or both members of a marriage change into someone else, it strains the relationship in ways difficult or impossible to properly repair?

Maybe Hormones are the Sinkholes of Relationships

Let me just say this: Sinkholes are bullshit.

There are a lot of things to be afraid of in life. Natural disasters and disease and mortal enemies and other things. And most responsible people take precautionary measures to avoid these things when possible, which is how the human race has survived to this point.

But sometimes, you’re just sleeping in your bedroom at night, and then the ground gives way beneath your home, and your house falls down into the planet, and then you die.

It’s pretty much the least-fair thing I can think of. And the thing I am theoretically most afraid of due to its fundamental randomness. I can’t even trust the ground I stand on.

And maybe hormones are just like that.

One time, the person I loved most and knew best in the world had a baby and then everything about her body chemistry changed for a while afterward, and then later still, everything about Us got sick and died.

And when We died, I don’t think either of us were still the same person who met at that college party 15 years earlier.

Many things affect hormones.

The birth-control pill, in particular, interests me because it has been demonstrated to take away a biological tool women use to choose partners—smell. Pheromone detection via the olfactory system. It’s a thing, I guess.

According to this article in The Telegraph (U.K.): “…the Pill could stop women picking up these important genetic clues because it alters hormones which make the body think it is pregnant. While that stops women getting pregnant it also means they would rather be surrounded by close family members, and so are more attracted to people who are genetically similar. And for choosing a partner, that is dreadful.”

Pregnancy and child birth, menopause, and menstrual cycles all affect women’s bodies in chemistry-changing ways.

Most forms of contraception (about 60-ish%) affect hormone levels as well.

Estrogen, progresterone, testosterone, adrenaline and cortisol are some relatively well-known hormones. Leptin and ghrelin are some appetite-related lesser-known ones.

We all have all of these hormones. But as the levels of one or many increase or decrease, we literally become different versions of ourselves.

Different versions who tend to be shitty at the things that keep marriages thriving, or even simply afloat.

The food we eat matters.

Men today have significantly lower testosterone levels than our fathers and grandfathers. Some of the pesticides used to grow much of our food has high estrogen levels, which many in the science community point to as an explanation.

The food supply would affect women equally, on top of the previously mentioned changes.

Lifestyle factors like sleep, poor nutrition and a lack of exercise all affect us as well.

Sinkholes scare me. And they’re a bullshit, unfair wrinkle in our collective efforts to not die.

Hormones? They’re just like that.

Affecting all of us indiscriminately.

Turning people into someone else.

Turning lovers into strangers.

Turning Life into Death.

And maybe if everyone keeps on hiding the changes we feel because of this or that, maybe we’re all doomed to end up living with strangers.

Even when we live alone.


(Update: Edited to correct nonsense scientific claim that trees and grass produced carbon dioxide rather than oxygen, because we don’t live on Venus.)

61 thoughts on “The Strangers We Live With: Maybe Birth Control, Food & Aging Dooms Our Relationships”

  1. emilyvaillpfaff

    Just a note about the role of plants: they take in the CO2 we breathe out and give off the O2 we and all life need to survive. And yes, as I age I do feel different, especially post late pregnancy and premature birth, and surgical menopause, and also decreasingly able or willing to tolerate the SHS (shitty husband syndrome).

    1. Thanks for correcting me on that. I’ll make the update so as to be less of a moron and/or not spread dirty lies.

      I’m clearly not a botanist/arborist.

  2. Interesting . … I thought about the hormone issue when my wife and I separated 25 years ago . much so that I talked to her OBGYN about it and he concurred with the notion that part of our problems might be hormone based. While the hormone problem didn’t help the main reason for us seperating was shitty husbandry on my part and view of my role that was imagined differently by my wife . You see no relationship comes with instructions , if so men wouldn’t read them anyway . What kept us from divorce and enduring in our relationship for going on 33 years now was a willingness to change. Not change who we are but how we are . I am certain my wife was going to file for divorce . ..see was done…didn’t sign up for the life we had and which way it was going . ….I wasn’t home much , I had some mommas boy tendencies , I put things like work and having late night coffee clutches with friends and a few other thing get in the way ….. I fretted about losing her and seeing my then 2 small kids I saw my family coming apart another man was making an attempt to be my replacement (thankfully I headed him off at the pass as he was a predator of vaunerable women ) and had to show my wife I was willing to fight for her and our family .
    ..I felt the me of me being swallowed buy the metaphorical sinkhole you describe . Once I started to make the changes in how I was and began to value my wife and our little family things began to turn around . I had been sleeping in my car and after a while and some regular counseling (even though she had gone by herself and I refused in the beginning before the separation to go she had a change of heart and accompanied me) the did she wanted me to move back home and forget sleeping in the Pontiac Hilton . ….we worked on issues that I owned and issues she owned….it took a while and we still have a blow out or two now and then but the bottom line, at least for me, regardless of hormones or outside influences or the long laundry list of problems that can break up married people and suck up whole families , willingness to put the effort in before the problems arise is the critically most important aspect of keeping your relationship thriving . It’s not rocket science .’s work and truly not for the faint of heart . ….someone once said “do work worth doing well ” that is how you break the marriage sound barrier……I’m still with the love of my life and we now have 3 kids….I told a story on a previous post about the gentleman in my neighborhood where I grew up that had a 1958 tutone Cadillac . .he washed and waxed that car everyday religiously without fail and years after he passed away the car still looks showroom new his care made,that Cadillac shine and it shines today….I think of my marriage like that Cadillac

  3. Excellent, Matt. This is a topic people need to explore! We live in a very toxic environment. And we have a problem in our society with drugs. I do not mean illegal drugs. It is a relatively new thing that people have begun talking about in recent years to say there is a drugged driving problem. They are referring to all of the pharmaceuticals and hormone treatments that such a large percentage of our society are on. We are being effected in many many ways by our toxic choices. And it’s destroying a lot of us. Life and marriage are hard enough with just normal natural hormonal changes. I hope and pray people start getting control of this concept of how many ways they’re damaging their endocrine systems and their central nervous systems!

    1. Everything we normally discuss around here barely means a thing, if our minds and bodies betray us OR betray the person we love.

      It struck me as extremely important as I continued thinking about it for a week or so.

      There’s an infinitely more comprehensive version of this which deserves to be written and shared by actual experts who know things, instead of — you know — me.

  4. I can’t remember where I found it, but I remember reading an article where a psychologist said that whenever he meets a couple who had once loved each other but “the love had died”, he immediately suspects an underlying mood disorder.

    Shitty husbands may contribute to people being frustrated and resentful. But that’s different from love dying.

    Almost every case I have seen where someone has fallen out of love has been accompanied by something like depression. And yeah, people can say that the depression/whatever has been caused by a “bad marriage”.

    But you know what? Maybe the bad marriage has been caused by underlying personal issues.

    Happiness, love – these are the things relationships are made from. And these feelings are tied to brain chemicals. Change those brain chemicals a bit, and the feelings we associate with love can go away. Which is one of the big reasons I think love is more a choice than a feeling – feelings are more fickle.

    Anhedonia is a state in depression and in other disorders where people stop “feeling”, they stop being able to enjoy the things they used to. Often people who suffer from this feel dead inside.

    And in that state they can only really feel extreme or intense emotions – anger being a big one, but the early warm fuzzy stage of love being another.

    People who have affairs often say “I just wanted to feel alive again”. My personal opinion, anhedonia is often at play in many affairs. It has caused the belief that the love has died, and has made people susceptible to affairs, as they just want to feel *something* again.

    1. *Nods*

      1. Yes.

      2. I didn’t know about anhedonia. Not hard for me to identify the “hedon” as in “hedonic adaptation” which I probably over-mention. Thanks for the education.

      1. Hey Matt, the main thing you and I have disagreed on over the past few years is, I think even if someone does a great job as a husband/wife, sometimes it doesn’t make a difference.

        You’ve commented before that you think that’s a small percentage of cases, and I believe it’s a much larger percentage than most think.

        And I believe the anhedonia that comes with depression (and other disorders/mental illnesses) is one of the main culprits.

        Not to downplay wanting to be the best partner you can be, because that is huge and will always *help* things.

        But moods, feelings and emotions are all tied to brain chemicals. And because of the way we perceive and talk about love, when those feelings are gone, often a lack of love (or falling out of love) is seen as the cause.

        But what it is isn’t?

        I’m big on asking the right questions. And to me, what if a lack of love is actually the symptom of something else? There’s a lot of science and proof to show it often is.

        But for someone who’s feeling emotionally flat, or emotionally dead, the relationship is often the first thing blamed.

        And then, when they find they are able to have feelings for someone else it just solidifies the belief that the relationship was the problem.

        I truly believe the reality is frequently it was anhedonia, and someone is able to “feel” with someone else because it’s the high intensity of a new relationship.

        Which will eventually fade, and then people will find themselves in the same situation they were in before.

        25% of people will experience a mental illness firsthand in their lifetime. That means almost 50% of relationships deal with this.

        Anhedonia is one of the primary symptoms, not just of depression, but of most mental illnesses.

        To me, this has HUGE implications for relationships. And that’s why although it’s not a popular topic, it’s one I try to cover on a frequent basis.

        Education to reduce the stigma against mental illness can go a long way towards saving relationships from failing for all the wrong reasons.

        1. I really appreciate you sharing this perspective, Drew. I think there’s a lot to your explanation of why ey feel again later and that understanding is significant to a lot of people in the pain they are being put through.

          1. One more point on this (for now)…

            if you look at stats and stories, the failure of a relationship can often be linked to a major life trauma. Or maybe it’s better to say that relationships are often greatly stressed, commonly leading to failure, within 6 months to a year of a major life trauma.

            A death of a close family member or child, a major health scare, significant financial issue, whatever it is. Intuitively I would think these sort of events would and could actually bring a couple closer, as when you are in a relationship you are supposed to be “the shelter in the storm” for your partner.

            But a lot of things I’ve read (which I can’t back up or substantiate right now) suggest otherwise.

            Grief affects all of us, and it comes out in different ways. People withdraw, but for sure it messes with our brain chemicals – making it harder for us to have the feelings that are often associated with love.

            Which is why to me, in order for love to last we have to grow love beyond a feeling. We need to choose it, and actively nurture it. We need to accept that it’s not a passive thing that happens to us, it’s something we can embrace and take ownership of.

            Sorry if I’m rambling here, but this topic is SO important to me, and in virtually every discussion I see on love it’s completely overlooked.

          2. You are right. Major life challenges are huge. And in truth they aren’t all that different from our day to day challenges. But just as people fail daily to do well towards their fellow man when cut off in traffic people often fail their closest loved ones on a daily basis to choose to do well towards them in the biggest challenges they face. I’ve got to run my daughter to school, but hopefully I’ll get back to this.

          3. Thought I was done here, but time to climb on my soapbox a bit more 🙂

            What’s the common thread here? Stress, and how people respond to stress.

            We talk about self improvement, and learning to love ourselves and being a better person. All really important things. I truly believe in self-improvement and trying to be a better “me” every day.

            At it’s root though, one of the MOST important things people can have in life (if not THE most important) is healthy coping mechanisms.

            HOW do we deal with problems when they occur? The way I see, there’s a spectrum where on one side we have withdrawal/avoidance, and on the other side we have explosive anger (which can manifest in physical abuse). It’s spectrum, so we all fall somewhere on it, and we all tend to lean one way or the other.

            I would like to think I’m fairly balanced, but I definitely lean a bit more towards the avoidance side then the anger side.

            We talk about the importance of communication – and our ability to communicate is very much related to where we fall on these coping mechanisms.

            How do you respond when criticized? Anger and defensiveness are on one side and shutting down is on the other side.

            How can anyone ever be expected to communicate well when their coping mechanisms are broken? We need to learn better coping mechanisms first.

            I see most addiction, and things like affairs as being related to poor coping mechanisms – likely developed in childhood.

            Coping mechanisms are learned behaviors though, and although it’s difficult they can be unlearned. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is all about trying to address some of these issues, and rewire the brain in a healthier way.

            Anyhow, I’m super passionate about this. I just hate seeing relationships fail where there are two good people involved who have somehow lost each other, and the real underlying causes (in my opinion) are never addressed. So they go on to make the same mistakes again and again.

            But if they could only learn to be healthier individuals in the first place, so many more marriages and families could stay together, and grow together.

          4. Moods, medicine and the brain thing..

            So I’m mostly a novice, but I am actively learning about all this stuff.

            So quick crib notes on Neurotransmitters, and neuroplasticity..
            3 main Neurotransmitters that effect mood are Dopamine, Serotonin and Nor-Epinephrine. and Oxytocin is a hormone that does have CNS activity.

            Dopamine is the reward NT- it is what keeps people addicted to substances, even when the high and the benefit have gone away. It’s triggered by novelty and pleasure and reminds the brain “o- this is good, we need to come back here.”
            In addiction the substance that triggers the reward is so intense that it kind of leaves the brain trying to recapture that feeling of pleasure.
            In every day to day life, such as in relationships, the novelty wears off and so the dopamine release becomes less strong. (hence- hedonic adaption).

            Serotonin ultimately helps with feelings of calm and well being. The sought after end result of many SSRI’s is to reduce anxiety. (Elevated mood, is also sought after but it really depends on the medication whether that is going to happen or not.)

            Nor-epinephrine is the CNS version of epinephrine and has some similar effects- its mainly a get up and go response. It increases energy, reduces apathy, ect.

            There are antidepressants that are SNRI’s (Serotonin/Norepinephine Reuptake Inhibitors) and DNRI’s (Dopamine/Norepinephrine Reuptake inhibitors) that can typically help with energy and apathy.

            *Reuptake inhibitors don’t add extra Neurotransmitter, they just help to keep it in the synaptic cleft where it actually does its job.

            Oxytocin is the attachment hormone. It is what is released when you feel connection and bonding. …Interesting bit * they have done studies where oxytocin was very effective in helping borderline personalities bond to others (Where there is usually mistrust, anger, ect.). It essentially allowed them to build a few solid relationships, that then reinforces feelings of trust and ability to connect.

            I tend to agree that medication’s, especially meds for depression and anxiety are given out as a remedy, when it really isn’t. Learning cognitive behavioral skills to help cope and change thinking helps in the longer term and literally does re-wire the brain. BUT- when people are severely depressed, and are having difficulty functioning meds can help them as they learn the CBT.

            The reason CBT is so effective, and the coolest thing sliced bread in my opinion, is that our thoughts effect how and what and when and how much neurotransmitter we use. It effects pathways that will either send positive feelings, or negative feelings.

            If we fixate on areas of worry and we trigger the anxiety response in our bodies we are effecting not only our NT’s, but we are also effecting our hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, ect. which triggers moods, responses to our environment, and how we see our environment.
            It can easily snowball.
            The more negative we perceive the world, or ourselves, the more we prove ourselves right. And our brains literally do change.

            The hypothalamus is noted to be smaller in people with chronic anxiety and depression. That’s definitely the worst kind of “shrinkage”..:)

            I can agree that foods and pesticides- not to mention hair and beauty products (several of them had estrogen in them up until about 10 years ago) can have some effects on our hormones. Hormones can have effects of mood, and mood can effect NT’s.

            All of this stuff can seem so out of control and out of our hands when we are the ones experiencing it. It’s difficult to tell anything is going on until symptoms start to appear (in anything- especially in relationships).

            And honestly, we can do everything in the world to fix a situation, and the outcome still be out of our hands.

            Self love, self care and an openness and care for others is all and the best we can ever do or be.

  5. people lose when they lie about the fundamental important issues. they pretend to be someone else. it doesn’t work. the truth comes out and then there is disappointment, disillusion, betrayal, hurt and pain.

  6. Honestly, if you are going to write about love, relationships, and hormones, yet you don’t mention dopamine, serotonin, or oxytocin, it’s a little hard to take you credibly. Yes, I am a physician, but still… a little more research would go a long way.

    1. Right. I don’t do much of that.

      I just write whatever pops into my idiot little head during my lunch breaks and publish it.

      I’m as surprised as you that anyone pays attention.

      1. Hated that I was so negative on my initial post… I have been reading your posts since the dirty glass, and do like your perspective and writing style. Your head is not idiot nor are your emotions. But falling in love and staying in love are two very different things, and there is no way to describe either without the neurotransmitters mentioned previously. If you like, I can inundate you with lots of research, but just Google it and you will learn lots. Happy reading… it’s a most fascinating field ❤️

        1. Hi Kahlua, that’s exactly what I was getting at above when talking about anhedonia. Dopamine, seratonin and oxytocin are the main brain chemicals that are associated with the *feelings* of happiness and love (which I’m sure you know from what you’ve written).

          “new love” is shown to have the same effects on the brain, and on brain chemicals as drugs such as cocaine, and is part of why people can sometimes feel high on love in the early stages – and during those stages be blind to all the negative sides of the person they are with.

          Conditions like depression and anxiety actually rewire the brain, and cause these chemicals to get out of balance (which SSRI’s are supposed to help with). And when people stop “feeling” love, they tend to believe there is something wrong.

          This is where I’m a huge proponent of the love as a choice, and love as a skill (that can be developed) philosophy. As you say, falling in love is one thing, and is actually pretty damned easy to do. Staying in love? And nurturing a lasting love? MUCH harder. But also much more valuable.

          As stated above, people being shitty partners is a big part of why relationships fail. I truly believe however that a broken understand of what love actually is in the first place (the love as a feeling philosophy) is even MORE responsible for failed relationships.

          Thanks for commenting on this – I think it’s a super important topic that there needs to be a lot more education about.

  7. “Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people, and that sometimes, our partners don’t like nor are attracted to the new and different versions of us?”

    No, and here’s why. Love is supernatural, magical, idealistic, and beyond our ability to even perceive it fully. It isn’t based on hormones, chemistry, or attraction.

    It’s all in our minds and our attitudes. When we change in marriage, some people go “yippee, now this is practically an opportunity to have an affair with a completely different spouse!” And those spouses who are stead fast and consistent? We often call them boring and go have an affair with a stranger. So as you can see, it is our attitude and our commitment that creates our attraction.

    Of course what we eat matters, of course hormonal birth control has a huge impact on women. So do health issues, financial challenges, the loss of a child,chronic illness, but still people fight through these things, they persist and remain committed to one another. That’s what love is.

  8. Hi Matt,
    Thank you so much for all of your posts. I so look forward to reading what you write and am thrilled when your message appears in my email. I print all of them out. You have a very special way of getting to the heart of so many issues. Thank you for writing. It is a true gift to me. I can honestly say you have helped me feel better many times over. Keep thinking and writing on your lunch hour, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday coming up with your son.

  9. Matt, your fear of sinkholes reminds me of a time in college. We were sitting around in my dorm having a bull session. A topic that came up was spontaneous human combustion. Lol, it freaked me out pretty good…the idea that you could just be sitting there and burst into fire. Freaky, man, freaky.

  10. “Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people who sometimes transition into people unattracted to, or incompatible with our partners?

    Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people, and that sometimes, our partners don’t like nor are attracted to the new and different versions of us?

    Isn’t it possible that we all end up living with strangers or discovering them in our reflections, and that when one or both members of a marriage change into someone else, it strains the relationship in ways difficult or impossible to properly repair?”…

    This part struck me, too.
    Here’s the thing- whatever is to blame, be it hormones , or past trauma, or just plain learning that makes you see things a different way, we all grow and we all do change..(if we are the lucky one’s who are actually alive).

    But, I don’t think it has to wreck a marriage.

    Noone changes in a bubble. That’s not how our brains, or anything in our natural world works.
    We effect our environment, our environment effects us- and round and round we go.

    People are going to change, and a lot of times we can change with our partners, and/or we help our partners to change in someway or another.

    I am not saying that when partners withdraw or “fall out of love” that it is the other partners fault. I am just making the point that some older couples (like Louie : ) may tell you that they have been married to at least 2 different people, but they’ve only been married once.

    People can change in a marriage, I would almost hope so, and it really is a rare few that can grow at the same pace, and in the same direction as the other. But I think that is were boundaries and allowing that other person to become whoever they are becoming while still loving one another (Sometimes even from a distance) is really important.

    But, I don’t think what you are really talking about is personal growth here. I think you are talking about sexual attraction changing, in particular.

    I am a little bit on the fence about this-

    I mean, yes- sex is really important and being attractive to the other partner is important, but (And I have a big one- har, har…not really..) I think it depends on which gender you are talking to as to what is considered sexually attractive, and how much that really effects their feelings of closeness with a partner.

    I know this has been discussed before, but it seems like men want the sex appeal sold in magazines- high heels, long hair, cleavage, fine bod and pretty face. (And no words) ,
    But women seem to like men’s character (A five o’clock shadow and loose tie doesn’t hurt for me, either, but 🙂 …). Women do typically want to feel emotionally secure, etc- I think THAT would be considered sexually attractive, and also feeling loved- special, being the center of the mans attention, things like that.

    While hormones, and depression and some medications for depression can tamp down sexual desire all together, it doesn’t usually mean that the partner becomes unattractive.

    I can see how long periods of time without physical closeness and connection can be the cause of some issues, or make the issues that are there seem more dire, I just don’t think it can be said that hormones can be the sole issue in creating a rift between partners.

    It can certainly be a big factor, but like most things, they are likely just one factor among several that are not addressed until they become a tsunami.

  11. “Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people who sometimes transition into people unattracted to, or incompatible with our partners?

    Isn’t it possible that we all change into different people, and that sometimes, our partners don’t like nor are attracted to the new and different versions of us?”

    I’ll put in my two cents on this one too…

    …yeah, for sure we all change. We are constantly growing, and evolving. This is where authenticity is HUGE.

    I think a problem we get into is when people aren’t authentic in relationships, and instead are trying to present a version of themselves that they think the other person wants.

    Over the long term, that will always break down and the authentic person underneath will show through.

    Matt – I remember around a year ago you wrote on this. The idea that a part of you doesn’t give a crap anymore (paraphrasing here), and you find it liberating. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, great, the sooner you find that out the better.

    I’ve always believed that. I’ve got my quirks, I’ve got my damage, and I see no reason to hide that. In fact, the sooner someone knows those sides of me the better – because I would rather them have an opportunity to accept me for who I am or run really fast the other way before either of us have wasted much energy on a false image of who the other person is.

    I guess it comes down to being willing to be vulnerable, and not being afraid to be rejected for who you are. And to me, that comes with a sense of self worth.

    If you know who you are, and love who you are – then you have nothing to fear in showing your true self. If someone sees that and doesn’t like it, that doesn’t reflect poorly on you. It’s just not a match that would have worked.

    1. Drew,
      I think what you are saying about authenticity is very valid and true.
      More often than not when we are young adults we are still trying to fit into what is seen as socially sought after. Whether that is money, or being a “Cool” parent, or being “crunchy”- whatever, a lot of times we still look towards the outside to check and see if we are alright.
      Sometimes we get into marriages and relationships without really ever knowing who we really are. Sometimes we actively hide who we are because we are afraid we wont be accepted. Sometimes we have been told we wont be accepted, so we MUST hide who we are.
      But it all eventually comes out.

      I don’t think people change as in changing from red to blue. I think people change into becoming more of who they are.

      There may be instances where parts of who we are, are forever changed and so see the world completely differently.
      I would equate that with Matt’s chemistry analogy of one element changing the substance of a molecule.

      But sometimes, I think that even that is an illusion. The person hasn’t changed, just their understanding of the world. (I always think of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley’s break up when I think about this stuff. ..I still wished that would have never happened.)

    2. Drew,
      I have a very hard time believing that it all boils down to being your true self from the get go. If we’re talking about biology and hormones, unfortunately it’s not that cut and dry. There are people that have dealt with and are still dealing with diseases, medications, and natural experiences(such as childbirth) that completely throw hormones out of whack. Some of it returns to normal levels after time, some don’t.
      The craziest thought of all after reading this to me is what if your ability to maintain a relationship or even feel as secure as you say you are about yourself, just comes down to your bodies basic ability to regulate hormones?

      1. Hi Natasha,

        I wasn’t suggesting that authenticity solves all issues, because it definitely doesn’t. At the same time, similar to the notion of trying to be the best person you can be and treating others well, authenticity will definitely give you a better chance.

        As you say though, with biology and hormones there are all sorts of things that can throw things out of whack. I’m no expert, but as you say there are diseases, medications and experiences such as childbirth that can throw peoples hormones (and therefore their moods and emotions) out of whack.

        Another huge one is grief. I have heard SO MANY stories about marriages that “seemed” healthy, and then someone suffers the death of a loved one (parent or sibling maybe), or they or someone close to them suffers a serious illness. And then suddenly they change.

        I’ve heard (and experienced) the description of it being like a switch just goes off in someones head, and suddenly they are a completely different person. Withdrawn, detached etc. To me it sounds a lot like something triggers a severe depressive episode for people, but again I’m no doctor.

        Women also go through a number of things that men can’t begin to understand. I’ve talked about some of this stuff with my mom (yeah, my mom). She described a period of her life where early menopause set in, and it took a serious toll on her emotionally. She was all over the map emotionally and not really in control, and apparently had a number of hard years.

        So many things can happen. But we can only control what we can control. So that’s where I think understanding who WE are, being authentic to ourselves, and trying to treat others with kindness, respect and understanding is maybe the best we can do. Sometimes it’s enough, sometimes it’s not.

        1. Sorry, you’re getting me from both sites today!
          So, I agree with what you’re saying. I think for so many people hormone fluctuation is a giant factor. When I had my third child I went into a thyroid storm. IT. WAS. INSANE. Actually a very good time to see how invested your partner is in you as well. Until I was able to get onto medication and the levels were okay, my hormone levels were constantly changing and I was all over the board emotionally.
          Now I don’t actually believe hormones are the only determining factor of relationship success but I do think this is an interesting topic that I haven’t seen touched on much. Something to consider.

          1. Natasha and Drew,

            Natasha- O gurl! I had a horrific episode of hyperthyroidism a few years back- that did also culminate into a thryroid storm – ie crisis. SOO many people dont get it when I tell them that. They think about hypo-thyroidism being so common and an easy fix- they have no concept of how intense and life threatening a thyroid storm is.
            I was pretty much clueless as to what was going on because it started so gradually- until I was getting heart palpitations, crying incessantly and shaking if I didnt eat something every 2 hours. Anyway- it is always a relief for me to meet someone who has experienced it.
            Mine was “idiopathic”- it just happened. Personally I think it is related to a viral throat infection, but we will never really know.
            Anyway- I know that may be weird, but the last time someone shared with me they had a thyroid storm I nearly leapt over a desk to give them a hug, so you should feel grateful that we are separated via a computer screen . ; ).

          2. That made me laugh out loud! Mine rooted from Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder I had no idea I even had until after all this. Tsh was 69. I’m surprised I wasn’t in the hospital. I felt like I was going CRAZY and everyone kept saying, “oh you just had a baby”. I’m like “guys if this is what ‘just having had a baby’ feels like I would’ve stopped at one”. I understand you completely. Heart palps, sweating, jittery, crying all the time, and at first extreme weight loss followed by gain, vertigo, and the list goes on. It’s been a while since diagnosis and things have definitely normalized other then yearly biopsies because I apparently have multiple nodules on my thyroid as well. Good times here in thyroid world. Good times:)

          3. Lol…good times, indeed.
            I went to the dentist to have a cavity filled-( dont judge!) and about 15 seconds after they injected the stuff that numbed my mouth, I felt my heart drop and start pounding.
            As calmly as I could I asked “what was in the medicine you just gave me..” they told me it was “A tiny amount of epinephrine, to limit bleeding.”
            I just started crying there in the dentists chair.
            We all decided I was just very sensitive to epinephrine.

            I finally found out when I went to my Gyn sobbing “I think I have PMS”- she looked me up and down and said “uh- HUH. Why dont we get some blood.”

            Yeah- as a sad as it seems the fact that I could eat ANYTHING, several times a day and still fit into my jeans was almost a perk.

            When she told me what my TSH was (and I am thinking yours may have been 0.69- its a negative feedback loop. The more hormone in your system the less stimulating hormone is produced) so much made sense to me.

            When I was 17 or 18 I dropped about 80 lbs in what felt like overnight, but being a stupid kid, I didnt question it- I was just excited that I lost so much weight (I was always overweight growing up).
            When I went into the navy a few years later I kept getting called to the sick bay because I had an abnormal TSH.
            I kept explaining to the doctor that my metabolism was higher because I lost so much weight.
            She must of thought I was an idiot, which I pretty much was. I didnt get that I lost weight because my thyroid was hot and I had a higher rate of metabolism, and NOT the other way around.
            She just nodded and didnt explain- but, she let me continue, when I could have been flagged as having a medical issue and possibly sent home.

            So, when I finally went and found this out it was a great big relief and things made sense.
            It has happened at 3 times that I can tell. That is why I think it is viral. If I get sick or worn down the virus reactivates and attacks my thyroid- the hormone spills out and my body goes into overdrive. That’s my hypothesis, anyway. 🙂

            I havent had any issues for a long while, but I am much more aware of the subtle signs that I just ignored before.

            Do you have to take medications to keep it in balance? – It’s ok, if you dont want to share. I’m just curious. I know propranolol will be my new best friend if it happens again.. : ).

          4. So when I as this thyroid storm mine started with this high anxiety, heart palps, great weight loss and then crashed and burned. So what started as hyper crashed and burned into hypo. That’s where the 69 came from. It went from extremely overactive then to completely inactive. So NOW I get to be on meds forever. I take synthroid 175 but I have to have a redraw to adjust meds again soon. That’s a really high dose! They think the thyroid storm was put into play after the birth of my child coupled with the undiagnosed autoimmune disorder. Luckily, I haven’t had a major problem since. My thyroid still has great difficulty regulating itself even with the meds but I’ve lost some weight(in a healthy way) and I’m feeling much better.
            I do feel for you. Thyroid issues can cause so many problems and when it goes into something like you and I experienced, you kind of feel like you might be dying!
            Do you like how we hijacked the comments section of this post and turned it into a webmd forum?
            Out of curiosity, did they ever test to see if you had Graves?

          5. “So when I as this thyroid storm mine started with this high anxiety, heart palps, great weight loss and then crashed and burned. So what started as hyper crashed and burned into hypo. That’s where the 69 came from.”

            The 69 makes more sense in that case.

            “It went from extremely overactive then to completely inactive. So NOW I get to be on meds forever. I take synthroid 175 but I have to have a redraw to adjust meds again soon. That’s a really high dose!”

            175mg is a pretty significant dose! Apparently there is some controversy about amour thyroid now days, but it is alot more effective. (Maybe too effective in some cases…). If it has to be increased that may be a good alternative.
            But, taking it the “right way” is important.
            Take it by itself at least an hour before eating anything. Otherwise it doesnt get absorbed well.

            “I’ve lost some weight(in a healthy way) and I’m feeling much better.”- Yeah- Im trying. I took advantage of dropping the weight and really got into exercise. Recently I haven’t had the time to dedicate to it the way I used to. I still really need to manage my diet more than anything.

            “I do feel for you. Thyroid issues can cause so many problems and when it goes into something like you and I experienced, you kind of feel like you might be dying!”
            It does effect everyTHING. You can die from an unchecked storm. You can also develop psychosis. …
            In the middle of mine menstrual cramps felt more like contractions. Not kidding, and not exaggerating.

            “Do you like how we hijacked the comments section of this post and turned it into a webmd forum?”
            I have no sympathy!!- they brought it up. (Lol 🙂 )

            “Out of curiosity, did they ever test to see if you had Graves?”
            I had a scan of my thyroid done, and there were no issues.
            The problem with that was the timing. My TSH was drawn in Oct. and I didnt get scanned until April. By then most of my symptoms were gone. If it were graves, there would still be some abnormal activity.
            I was told I may have a pituitary tumor, but have a nice day. I’m like “uh- what? wait a minute. Do you mean a tumor, in my brain?” I got a shrug and the consolation ” it would be slow growing, and we couldnt do anything about it, anyway.” …That doc. needed some lessons in bedside manners.
            I really dont think it is my pituitary because that effects 101 other things that I dont have.
            Actually, that may have been the janitor. Im still not sure…:)
            I was also accused of taking synthroid to artificially increase my metabolism. ..which left me perplexed and a little pissed off.
            But, yeah- it’s a big deal and effects multiple areas of peoples lives.
            I feel ya, sistah!
            Are you taking the synthroid on an empty stomach? It really will make a world of difference.

          6. I do take it on an empty stomach *most* of the time. I’m a forgetful human. If I don’t answer something right away when I get business emails I don’t answer it for weeks. Same goes for meds, if I don’t take it upon waking I’ll forget for a few hours. Obviously I need to change that but I’ve already got what I believe to be eighty different alarms in my phone telling me to, pick up kids, turn on bearded dragon lamp, feet kids off bus, get other kid from school, turn off bearded dragon lamp, and you get the point. I suppose one more won’t make a difference. I don’t know if you have kids but I kind of live life according to everything they’re doing and then do my stuff. It’s also busy season at work(photographer) so lately I feel like I’m drowining in lists of “to do’s”. Then there are days like today where I sit on my ass for hours, watch my son play Roblox and play online. How very productive of me! 🙂
            On a side note, bed side manner for docs could use some improvement in most specialty medical professions!

          7. “Bearded dragon lamp”…hmm, must be a parental thing..:)
            (I’m not a parent- but I have a feeling the lamp is the equivalent to my BFF’s son’s obsession with bb8, from Starwars…am I close?)
            Forgive me as I rear my nurses cap at you.
            Have you tried putting the medication by your bedside- like on the nightstand, so you take it first thing?
            I know being a mom means you have to take care of everyone else’s needs, but you have to take care of yours, too.
            (Says the non-parent who is supposed to be studying for finals but is f’ing-off by doing a million other things, besides studying.)
            NO judgement at all. Really, just trying to be helpful.
            Ok- really must get the information into my head, so I can regurgitate it in coherent sentences in a few days.
            Hope you have a good day off!
            I love photography- do you do people and events? I mostly like to do things, and really only as an occasional hobby. That’s awesome that you can do that for a living !

          8. Haha! No the lamp is an actual bearded dragon. Lol, he has to have solid light and heat for 12 hours a day. Timer is broken so alarm it is!
            I do think keeping it next to me would be good I just worry about kids getting into it. I have my own children and i also watch kids during certain times and days so meds being out kind of make me nervous. Gonna figure something out though.
            As for Photogeaphy I love it! It’s just now starting to take off really. I started as a hobby a few years ago and now I’m making a decent living doing it. I do most types but right now it’s all families. They want cards for Christmas so that’s pretty much all I’m working on. I think a ballpark estimate is maybe 70 shoots I’ve done since September. Very, very busy. If I can ever afford to outsource the editing process I will but for now….. Late nights:)
            Have a great day and it was nice chatting!

          9. Remedy for grabbing hands : lock box in top drawer, top drawer lock , or hanging shelf by bed that little hands cant reach. ..

          10. I’m so sorry you have you have Hashimoto’s. I hope you’ve discovered the websites StopTheThyroidMadness, Hashimoto’sMom and EasingOutOfHashimoto’s. There’s all sorts of info on doctors, lab tests, meds, and sympathetic fellow sufferers who totally “get” it.

            I wanted to clarify the uncertainty about Armour Thyroid. About 15 years ago, there were quality control issues. Many docs thought the synthetic med would provide more accurate doses. The problem has always been that Synthroid (synthetic T4), which seems to work for patients whose thyroid problems aren’t the result of an autoimmune disorder, DOESN’T HELP patients who DO HAVE AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS. It only changes the numbers on the lab results which causes doctors to tell you: you’re fine, your labs are normal, it’s in your heads/your hormones etc! Some docs will prescribe Cytomel (synthetic T3), which has the same efficacy as Synthroid – it usually works if the issue isn’t an autoimmune disorder.

            For autoimmune disorder patients, Natural Dessicated Thyroid (NDT) is the only product that works. So: Armour Thyroid fixed their QC issues, and most patients were doing well (as well as possible, anyway). Then the firm was bought out in 2014, and the new proprietors changed the formula (for money, I guess). When existing stock ran out, the new formulation hit the pharmacy shelves and in a month or two patients who had been stabilized on their NDT dose felt their symptoms return and grow worse.

            When someone found the key to the problem, everyone who’d been affected insisted their MD change their prescription to another NDT. Apparently which brand you can get depends on where you live. The dosage strengths are NOT equivalent. You should call whatever pharmacies your insurance approves and find out which brand(s) they carry or would order for you. Last MONTH the endocrinologist changed my dose of NatureThroid. (Famous drugstore chain) never filled it, after two weeks and ? phone calls they said they “couldn’t” fill the script. They said they’d call the doc. Week three I was not only in a hyper phrase I was mad as he** & called the MD’s office almost screaming, told them WTH should I schedule a followup, I couldn’t get the new dose! They had to call each of the six pharmacies “in network” to find one that would get it for me.

            Anyway find out which NDT brand is available in your area. Google the dosage equivalency chart, print it out and take it to next appointment, or fax it if you’re not gonna see the MD soon.

            Good luck & Merry Christmas.

          11. Thank you for the advice and I’ll be looking into it in the new year.
            Between my thyroid and a brand new injury that has left me couch bound, I’m not feeling too hopeful about turning 37 in a few weeks!!?

        2. Drew you said :
          “Another huge one is grief. I have heard SO MANY stories about marriages that “seemed” healthy, and then someone suffers the death of a loved one (parent or sibling maybe), or they or someone close to them suffers a serious illness. And then suddenly they change.

          I’ve heard (and experienced) the description of it being like a switch just goes off in someones head, and suddenly they are a completely different person. Withdrawn, detached etc. To me it sounds a lot like something triggers a severe depressive episode for people, but again I’m no doctor.”

          I think alot of what goes on during grief is a re-evaluation and restructuring of ones life. It can be an evaluation of the meaning and purpose of your own life, or the meaning of life itself. There can be intense mourning about the functional loss. People hallucinate their loved ones at times because their brains are so used to seeing a person there, or hearing the person call our name. Our minds/brains DO fill in the blanks alot as we walk around day to day- so after a loss, our mind has to deal with the loss in a very real, concrete way. We have to process new information that reflects a very different reality than what was previous.
          Just like when we lose a limb, we have input that tells us it is still there. Our sensory experience has to be relearned to reflect the new reality.

          So, I think in someways people do change drastically after a loss. And, it really does depend on how we choose to approach it. Unfortunately most people dont spend alot of time thinking about how they will approach a loss of a loved one, or grief of any loss (A job, status- whatever). Though, some may have some protective factors that help them be resilient.

          I think the initial change that people see is the shrinking back from pain. It’s the processing of it. It’s whether seek out others, or choose to process it by ourselves,… and the meanings we derive from the loss are what creates the lasting change. I think how we deal emotionally with many aspects of our lives is predictive of the ability to reach out or not when processing grief.
          Some people just cant. That’s not to say they should be abandoned because of it, but it is certainly difficult for partners to be able to reach out and help. In fact, it often feels like abandonment to the partners that are trying to help.

          It is so, so difficult. No matter how you slice it.

      2. Natasha,
        Im back again.. :). (The dragon is a lizard, right?- Lol 🙂

        I wanted to respond back to your comment here..
        I dont think any of us are our absolutely true self from the get go. Sometimes that is because we dont really even get ourselves- we havent experienced enough.
        Other times its because if we just showed up on a date and “were ourselves” we would probably forget some manners that actually allow others to be themselves, too.
        But, alot of times we show up with an intense need and desire to impress. I want to be liked, I want to belong and thought of in high regard, so I am going to try to emulate the things I believe will get me those things… whether I am really those things, or not.
        In the very least I am going to try to give off the qualities I know people are attracted to (like every other animal in the animal kingdom) so that I can be included.
        It’s sad to say, but so much of our society runs on this sort of interaction. From business, to dating- people try really hard to impress and give the impression that they have more or are more than we are, because we want other people to like us.
        All of that is great for attraction. Relation, however, cant be imitated the same way. Relation has to be real- otherwise its exhausting, or awkward, and always unfulfilling.
        It’s really hard to get to real relation if people are putting on masks and trying to be attractive. I dont think they are exclusively one or the other, you can be both…but most of us dont believe that about our own selves. We dont believe that being who we really are can warrant the same level of attraction as our false self. ..that’s why we go around believing that peoples highlight reels are their real life, and ours doesnt compare.
        Another sad part is we can walk around having grown into our false self – the one who always performs, is never socially awkward, the one who portrays a sought after image, and believe it is our real self.
        We get rewarded by others when we perform, when we look good- which is incentive to grow further into the image of who others want us to be.
        But the image isnt neccessarily who we are.
        Nurses used to be considered as low as prostitutes, because we dealt with sick people. They didnt have an esteemed image, and were treated really poorly. If people just listened to the masses and not followed their internal nudges, Florence Nightingale would have never impacted healthcare and nursing the way she did.
        But, for every Florence Nightingale there are hundreds, maybe thousands, more that dont/wont give up their image for their true identity. – because they fear not being accepted.
        I think the same thing plays out in relationships. People push the unacceptable parts of themselves to the back, and hope it doesnt rear its head. Or they think they can master it and control it- whatever “it” is. We try to change to fit what is expected and wanted of us.
        That hardly ever really happens, though. Those things end up popping up eventually.

        So, all of that to say- I dont think it is uncommon for people, especially young people, to not be their authentic selves- or know their authentic selves…and when they are met with real life stressors
        some very basic parts of themselves are exposed. Sometimes if the person who they thought they married doesnt show up, distrust is formed, hurt, anger, dissappointment. All of that definitely casts a shadow over the person.
        I would hope that two people could come to a place where the reality is acknowledged, people accept their own responsibility in it and they can agree to grow from there. But, maybe that is just in a perfect world.

        For the other part of your comment- about the extent of “diseases, mediation and natural experiences(such as childbirth) that completely throw hormones out of whack.”.. I dont disagree that they can change parts of a person- how the person functions, what the person needs, ect. But I dont think they change the essentials of the personality. That stuff is too deeply embedded to change just like that.

        To your question ” what if your ability to maintain a relationship or even feel as secure as you say you are about yourself, just comes down to your bodies basic ability to regulate hormones?” …

        It’s true that any illness can effect your self esteem, how you view and value yourself. You can really think you are going crazy, you can really think you are a bad person, or worthless, or a whole host of other negative thoughts about yourself. .. in addition, Im not saying that it doesnt often happen that when one spouse gets ill the other spouse somehow checks out.
        I have seen this too many times. I know this is true.

        But, those things- both our understanding of our self worth, and the ability to be there for a sick spouse, those things are usually products of other issues from a long time ago.
        I believe that because I have seen and known other cases were it didnt effect someones understanding of their self worth, and cases where spouses were able to be there for their sick partner.

        In other words- funky and faulty hormones can cause conflict, but I dont think it can be named the sole perpetrator of personality change , or couple breakup.

        It is one, complicated and complex, issue that usually comes along with a whole host of other issues.

        The whole thing with all of this is what Drew mentioned previously- there has to be communication. There has to be some sort of understanding of what each is going through, and room to allow them to deal with it the best ways they know how without the unit being at risk of dissolving.
        There has to be compassion, and empathy and flexibility.
        There has to be a reevaluation of what is important, why the marriage matters, etc, etc, etc…
        And I dont think any of that can come unless there is true, authentic relationship there to begin with.

        Anyway, that was a way-too-long response 🙂 ..anything to not study, you know ; ).

  12. Reblogged this on The Honking Goose and commented:
    I didn’t know that about birth control pills and smell. I am, however, very averse to any hormonal medical treatment though. I stopped taking birth control pills in my 20’s after only two years because of my concerns about the effects of hormones. And again, I had to firmly turn down hormone treatment when I was pregnant with our younger son. My doctor recommended it based on my history of preterm labor. I think most people would follow their doctors guidance because they are in a position of authority and superior knowledge. But hormones would have without a doubt had an unknown effect on the fetus developing inside me. I can’t believe a doctor with all their education and authority would be so cavalier about giving hormones to pregnant women. But there it is and only because I always question authority and have no problem breaking rules did I have the strength to firmly refuse and stick up for myself and my unborn child.

    1. Hey Goose,
      I don’t want to come across like I’m an expert, because I’m not, but from my education and experience the hormones that your doctor recommended were likely just so that the natural shifts in your hormones didn’t signal your body to slough off the uterine lining, too early. Since you have those hormone naturally in your body, it wouldn’t really effect the fetus one way or another- it’s the drop in the hormone that would have put the pregnancy at risk.
      Estrogen heavy BC pills do have a long list of potential side effects, but they actually have been shown to be protective in uterine cancers, and some breast cancers. (Theoretically because they mimic pregnancy, and preganancy is also protective again at these cancers- the body is an amazing thing…)
      Paradoxically estrogen is also a fuel for certain breast cancers-
      But,there is a significant correlation between high fat diets and those sorts of breast cancers. It could be a matter of a consistent release of estrogen r/t fat cells, without the natural fluctuations that are part of the reason why there is such a high coo relation with cancer. As far as the pheromones, and the stunted sense of them, that is news to me,too. No doubt it’s some biologically protective mechanism. Women who are pregnant need to take care of their off spring and aren’t so worried about their mates anymore.

      Hormones aren’t bad in and of themselves, sometimes they are effective and appropriate. I just wanted to clarify that.

      But, I can understand and applaud you for making your own choices that you were comfortable with.

      1. I hear you. And I’m certainly not making this statement as a form of medical advice to others, I’ve made it clear that I’m not a doctor, right? 😉 I would encourage others to do research of their own when it comes to medical decisions, however. In my own experience, and stories of people close to me, doctors can and should be questioned. That is unfortunate and confusing and some people just don’t have the time or energy. That’s okay, doctors do a lot more good than harm, for sure. My own situation was complex and I don’t need to go into all the details. Suffice it to say, I felt confident that I wasn’t truly at risk of another preterm labor/birth and happily I was right. Without the hormone therapy, I carried our child to full term and he was born healthy at 40 weeks.

        1. I completely agree that we need to ask questions and do research about whatever issues we are seeing the MD for. There is a big push for patient centered care- that means that practitioners are supposed to be asking questions related to how useful the treatments will actually be.
          Congrats on the healthy full term pregnancy 🙂

  13. Just this thought…
    If I am an authority on anything it is broken relationships..and then, I am only an authority of my own.
    I came from seriously shredded and severed relationships in my family.
    There are hurts that will never be healed. There are things that should have been that never were, and things that should have never been. And nobody could do anything about it.

    I know not everyone here is religiously minded, but these things are where I have to trust that there will be reconciliation and healing “on the other side” the most.

    These are the things where I have to really and truly come to the conclusion that loving for the sake of love is the only, best, true love you can have.
    Because loving to be loved in return is never a guarantee. Because sometimes we are so broken and unable that we just cant return it.

    But, I imagine in the end we will all arrive. We will be whole and complete and we wont hurt for the things that damaged us. We will all just celebrate that we made it.

    That is my hope, anyway.

  14. Hi Drew,

    This is an excerpt from Terry Real’s book, “The New Rules of Marriage”.

    “WE ALL MARRY OUR UNFINISHED BUSINESS: We all fall in love with someone we think will mend the unhealed places we carry inside, someone who, at the very least, will help us avoid them. And yet, devilishly enough, we all somehow wind up with a partner who is exquisitely designed to STICK THE BURNING SPEAR RIGHT INTO OUR EYEBALL. How this happens no one really knows. ‘how could I have known that David would turn out to have an alcohol problem like my dad?’ ‘Molly never ONCE lost her temper with me before we got married. how could I have ever guessed she’d turn out to be a rager like my mom?”

    ” In the decades of practice, I have heard sentiments like these innumerable times. How could you have possibly known? The answer is, I have absolutely no idea. It is the MYSTICISM OF MARRIAGE”.

  15. Intriguing. I can see so many ties. The seven-year itch. The mid-life crisis. And I see this in my marriage, too – the hole started underneath the pavement long before I was aware that the ground had fallen away. And then one day the concrete cracked.

    What I don’t know is which way this all goes. Was it the hubs’ depression that caused his currently-flaring issues? Or was it the issues that caused my food issues to come back to the front line?

    Interesting either way.

    And I think most people change over time. The solid couples manage to change in ways that are complementary. Once those changes clash, well…so does everything else.

  16. What’s even worse is that these hormones that are ever changing can actually be changed by our thoughts and circumstances we perceive as stressful! It’s totally inevitable and as you put it, bull shit.

  17. To Everyone:

    It seems the only thing in life that is constant is change… Those are wise words spoken by someone long ago. Many of you will not agree with what is written in Terry Real’s book, “The New Rules of Marriage” concerning what changes to expect that can negatively impact your life as a married couple … I never thought I would hear this kind of discussion

    “D.W. Winnicott ( pediatrician-turned-psychoanalyst) wrote a startling and, for its time, quite radical academic piece that detailed, ‘ten reasons young mothers should hate their infants’. Winnicott’s reasons included such complexities as the fact that infants usually puke on you, keep you up at all hours, scream as loudly as they can in your ear, and bite your nipples.’ It was an enormously liberating piece that unearthed, normalized, and showed compassion for those quite natural maternal feelings that didn’t fit in with Hallmark cards or Norman Rockwell fantasies.

    “In that spirit, I would like to spill the beans on one of the great elephants in the middle of the room, one of the largest open secrets kept about modern family life.


    “No one can prepare you for the experience of having your first child. No matter how much you read or how many people you talk to, the ALTERED CONSCIOUSNESS that comes at the time of your first child’s birth can’t really be grasped until you’ve been through it. Nothing can prepare you for the onslaught of a love so unalloyed, so encompassing and sudden, that you really would sacrifice your life for this tiny being. In modern Western families, and most particularly in the United States, the couple’s relationship that was once the whole of your experience now takes an abrupt and emphatic backseat to the task at hand.


    1. Marilyn,’s kind of amazing that we dont hate those adorable little parasites.
      But we dont.
      Oxytocin works on both the mom and the baby (and maybe just by sheer influence, on dad, too) – they are in love.

      Most people automatically put the infants needs in front of their own. There is no thought process behind it, it just is.

      Babies bring so many changes, and most of them are happy changes. Everything is cute. And, as the infant develops, it inspires awe in the parents – at times, it’s like the parents are just noticing the world in a similar way the infant is.
      I think there are multiple influences like these that change the focus from the couple to the child (And family unit).

      But I dont think that it has to be a family unit to the exclusion of the couple.
      The couple still needs to exist as a couple.

      Birth control may effect attraction to your mate.
      Antidepressants may lessen the desire for your mate.
      But, hormones after birth really do alot to drive you towards connection with your mate, most of the time.

  18. HI linds,

    I am sure that in some cases, the birth of a child brings unexpected stresses to a couple and depending on the level of maturity of both, it can lead to unresolved issues that eventually leads to counseling to save the marriage. I do not know how often that happens or if most couples succeed in weathering the storm and find pleasure in being parents. The problem is we don’t know, before choosing a partner, how they will react to the demands of parenthood.

    CHANGE is the culprit/ challenger here and given all the layered and multifacted dimensions of couplehood, it is amazing to me that more couples don’t leave the little despots at the hospitals until they can walk and talk.

    Even Terry Real admitted that he had a hard time adjusting to the changes that occurred after the birth of his son because his wife was suffering from post-partum depression. Change sometimes makes strangers of our partners and sometimes the person staring back at us in the mirror is someone we don’t recognize.

    Even before the widespread use of birth control pills, the introduction of genetically altered foods and toxins in the water, life was difficult for our ancestors. Diseases, poverty, ignorance, killed millions every year. Childbirth was a leading cause of shortened life expectancy among women.

    We could spend endless hours trying to decide if our relationships are doomed or if we will survive all that damages us and we succeed in not passing our disabilities onto our children. We humans are an amazing species, We learn, we hold onto hope we change, I vote for our survival.

  19. Marilyn,
    “it is amazing to me that more couples don’t leave the little despots at the hospitals until they can walk and talk.”- That may be an even worse time to let them loose!! Lol. ..”despot” is very accurate. Or as we like to say, “The benevolent dictator”…

  20. I agree that having kids changes you. But it bugs me when I hear people say “my kids come first.” I don’t agree! I adamantly believe that your spouse comes first. Kids come after that. The marriage is the foundation that the family is built upon, and must be the first priority. And it’s a good thing for the kids to be aware of this as well.

    It’s not just that your spouse is with you for the rest of you life, while you only have your kids for 18 years (though that’s part of it). It’s part of God’s plan for man – for while parents are to love their children and children are to honor and obey their parents, the spouses are so close that the man “leaves his mother and father and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”

    My wife and I have always agreed on this. We put each other and our marriage first, above our kids. I wish more parents would do so. Making the children the first priority spoils them, makes for messed-up young adults down the road, and harms the marriage by not giving it the proper importance and role in the family unit that it deserves.

    1. Oh, amen to that Jeff. Don’t put your kids before your marriage! My hubby understood that for the first two kids and he actually had to keep reminding ME that he and I came first. That keeps the power balanced and off the kids so they are facing a united force, protection, provision,.security. You see that stability reflected in our two older kids. They’re happy, well adjusted, successful grown ups.

      Flash forward a decade though, we have two more kids and dad really dropped the ball. He can see it now, he recognizes how he undermined me, how he handed the kid’s too much power. They were his precious babies, a couple of unexpected miracles that he began to place before our relationship. He spoiled them rotten and handed them way too much power. It’s been rough,especially with our youngest daughter because she learned how to play and manipulate her dad and how to completely undermine mom. The past few years have been tough as dad has tried to right the ship.

      Your last sentence sums it up well, “Making the children the first priority spoils them, makes for messed-up young adults down the road, and harms the marriage by not giving it the proper importance and role in the family unit that it deserves.”

    2. My husband “knew” that the marriage must be primary in order to provide a stable environment for children. But he totally blocked that out because his ex-wife was excrement. We had his daughter every weekend and ho!iday, and I knew she was working up to giving total custody to him. Which she did in spectacular fashion 6 weeks after we married. I was the ONLY adult who hadn’t betrayed her trust, and I loved her with all my heart and promised her before G-d she’d never go through the hell of divorce again (because of anything I did). I was the mom, I raised her. BUT everyone who shares DNA with her felt entitled to interfere and overrule my parenting. “You weren’t there, you don’t know what she went through ” blah blah. My husband said he had to put her first. For ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING REASON WHATSOEVER they all felt they needed to “protect” her from THE PERSON WHO PICKED HER UP AND TRIED TO PUT THE PIECES OF HER BROKEN HEART TOGETHER. How the he** did I get cast as “the evil stepmother” ? I told her dad and his parents that most of the known world wouldn’t know or care about her tough first three years. I begged them to knock it off and warned them that they were creating a princess-monster.

      That’s exactly what happened. My father-in-law had the ah-hah moment when she was 11 which of course was much too late. Then egg donor returned. She sent the kid a weekly “allowance” so the girl didn’t need to earn money by doing chores and I couldn’t force her. Her dad was a “peace at any price, can’t I have some relaxation when I’m not working” guy. I swear she never did one single chore under my roof.

      In addition, my spouse insisted that all holidays be spent with his parents because it was “probably going to be (Mom’s/Dad’s) last (holiday)” and my “parents have two other kids.” Daughter had disastrous 1st marriage (wedding by egg donor), then moved back east (paid for by egg donor) and lived with egg donor and the guy she dumpef her kid for, States there several years. She’s still a princess and her husband who’s about 5 years younger than ME can only be described by a two-word phrase I detest. She has an 18 month old boy and a 4 month old girl. She works a few hours twice a week. Yesterday I was checking my phone bill so I added up all the minutes between her and us, both home and cell. Not even two hours A YEAR. Still, she feels qualified to criticize what we so or don’t do for her grandma (certified Narcissistic Personality Disorder), broke her hip five weeks ago and is not a SNF.

      My point: talk is cheaper than trash. No action = you’re lying in my book. There’s always been someone else whose interests were “temporarily” ahead of mine. Meanwhile BOTH my parents died. I missed YEARS of family holidays. And sorry to kvetch but his mom is going to dominate ANOTHER Christmas in the hospital. My serious health issues? Tough it out. You can’t want that poor old lady to be alone on Christmas. (You’re right, THAT isn’t what I want!)

      So much for “I love you, you DO come first” it’s BS. Judging by actions over 3.6 decades, I may possibly be “first” after his mom dies. Sounds nasty, but this woman has done everything to make my life harder and said unspeakably horrible things to me, and it’s not good enough that I do everything for her that I can – I’m supposed to manufacture lovey gooey feelings for her or at least fake it.

      I love my husband but I wish Jeff could hit him upside the head with a brick with an explanation of “You’re lucky YamIhere is still with you, wake up and start MAKING THE COFFEE FOR HER and remembernyoir wedding vows!”.

      Sorry for the rant, it’s everything mental & physical & the kid I raised thinks ten minutes a month ismampishy bitchy request and my mother-in-law put herself in this situation and I’m turning into Scrooge.

  21. what if… your spouse’s chemistry changed due to habitual drinking… the constant stench turns you off..

  22. What if your spouse’s chemistry changed due to megadoses of chemotherapy in a failed bid to treat her endometrial cancer? What if those same megadoses destroyed the part of her brain that allows her to feel empathy and most of all the estrogen producing organs needed to make her an actual “woman”? What do you propose I do for love, intimacy and sex now brilliant one? Can I go back to occasional bouts with Internet porn now?

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Matt Fray

Get my latest writing!

Sign up for my free weekly email newsletter as I continue an on-going exploration of love and relationships.