Married to Hashimoto’s: Where’s the Woman I Married?

Married to Hashimoto's: Where's the Woman I Married?

Has Hashimoto’s affected your marriage?

Sadly I have a feeling this is the case for more people with thyroid disease than anyone can imagine.

It gives me hope when I hear from husbands and wives that have made it through the rough times.

Are you married to Hashimoto’s?

Love your spouse with every fiber of your being, because she needs you now more than ever, and never lose sight of the most important thing in love … hope.

Written by Rock Robbins

So, if you’re a guy and you’re reading this – congratulations. That you’re even looking at this puts you into the rare category of guys who are trying to understand what your woman is going through. So, way to go. May I say that I did not fall into this category until years later in my relationship with my girl, Stacey. And let’s face it, the ‘average guy’ is probably fine if his girl is going through some health issue, as long as…

  1. He doesn’t have to do too much and
  2. He doesn’t have to think about too much

If you’re like me, I leave a lot of the health issues to my wife as she’s just more naturally nurturing than I am. As guys, we have many other things in our life vying for our attention – family, work, friends, finances, sports, cars, (insert yours here). If you’re already active in the ‘help and support your woman’ department – awesome for you, keep it up.

I got married to Stacey about 27 years ago. Seven years in she got sick and a few years later was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. It changed our life, because it changed her life. Suddenly I was Married to Hashimoto’s.

(Hashimoto’s, for you guys who are still learning the ropes, is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the thyroid. The thyroid controls pretty much everything from weight to moods, from sleep to sex – and about a million things in between.)

So, with that said, I want to give you some tips that will save you time, your sanity, and your sex life. Even if you only do some of the suggestions I’m about to lay out, it’s likely your life will get much better between you and your woman as she grapples with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis.

Tip #1 – Realize that even though she looks ‘normal’, she’s not.

Here’s the thing with Hashimoto’s, when it first gets going in someone’s body they can seem totally fine on the outside. Things seem okay, but then they start dealing with things like…

  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog, or fuzzy thinking
  • Pale / puffy face
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Feeling cold
  • Joint pain
  • Thinning hair
  • Low libido
  • Slowed heart rate

And those are just some of the symptoms she may have before we enter the exciting world of weight gain.3

The problem is, in the beginning, we as men may dismiss these things, or hope that they go away like they do with most healthy people. But with Hashimoto’s, when untreated, things can steadily move into more and more very un-fun symptoms that just don’t ‘go away’.

Tip #2 – Stop acting like this is all in her head

I wish I didn’t have to put this here, but even I have fallen prey to the ‘I feel fine, so you should too’ kind of thinking. We get so busy, that when our partner is sick, it cramps our style, and all that we want to get done. If she’s looking ‘normal’, it’s tempting to say, ‘Hey! Snap out of it, and let’s get back to the fun, and all the things we used to do.’ Again, with most healthy people, some rest and time is enough to have their bodies repair anything that’s going on, but this is no ordinary health issue.

Hashimoto’s is basically your body fighting against itself, and attacking the ‘master’ gland in your body, the thyroid.1 The thyroid’s main job is to control metabolism, which is our body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy. The hormones the thyroid creates are essential to proper development of all cells in the human body.2 Whoah, let’s pause and read that last sentence again, especially the ALL CELLS part. These hormones also regulate protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamin metabolism.2 The reason you’re able to sit there and calmly read this article is because your thyroid is working in concert with the rest of your body. Trust me, this is not something anyone wants, and if they do have it, they don’t want someone giving them 9 miles of bad road on how they’re dealing with it.

I’m a bit of a geek, so I like to think of this like troubleshooting a computer. If the motherboard has something wrong with it, it’s not going to matter if all the other parts are sound. Things likely won’t work properly for long, if they even work at all. And with Hashimoto’s, it can easily be misdiagnosed as other health issues; you can end up doing a LOT of troubleshooting and tests on specific symptoms for a long time before you finally get to the big picture of a Hashimoto’s diagnosis.

Quick FYI – thyroid disease alone affects 20% of American women – that’s 1 in 5! 4 Of that number, Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of low thyroid and affects women ten times more than men.5

Trust me, if she could just flip the switch to get back to ‘normal’ she would. She doesn’t want to be a drag, not feel well, be stuck wondering what to do, and be frustrated with why her doctor doesn’t seem to deal with this effectively (I’ll have more on this in another article).

So, do yourself a favor, instead of putting that energy of frustration against her, put it toward helping her feel understood, comfortable, and cared for while you both sort out the next important steps. Again, this will give you major bonus points for being part of the solution, and not just another reminder that she’s broken or crazy.

(When you get a chance, read You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone: Losing the Victim, Finding Your Sense of Humor, and Learning to Love Yourself Through Hashimoto’s by my wife Stacey Robbins. And have your partner read it too.)

Tip #3 – Don’t be a jerk

This goes hand in hand with #2. Sorry to be blunt guys, but we can sometimes be dismissive when someone else is having a health issue.

“You look fine”

“Why are you just lying around?”

“Maybe if you get up and start moving, you’ll feel better.”

We can be so sure we’re right, and that we know what’s going on, we’ll treat people the way we think they are, rather than the way they actually are. And it doesn’t help us that a great share of our well-meaning primary care physicians push an outmoded treatment protocol by saying that this issue is easy to solve just by taking a pill – most of the time it’s not. Hashimoto’s usually presents itself as one complicated ass-kicking disease. Trust me, if you were going through this, feeling awful with no energy, fuzzy thinking, and pain, you’d have a lot more compassion.

Married to Hashimoto's

If it helps, imaging the feeling after being kicked in the nuts, and the sickening and aching aftermath of that; then imagine that lingering feeling going for days on end, or months, or years. You wouldn’t want someone getting up in your face and saying…

“What’s the matter with you?”

“You look fine.”

“Just get up and act normal again.”

Tip #4 – Be a part of the team, it benefits everyone (especially you)

Hopefully you’re already onboard with this. But if you’ve ever seen a family where the mom has been taken out with a bad cold or flu, you know what a big impact that has on the home. Meals quickly become dad making cereal, canned soup, or microwave and takeout meals for days. The house becomes a mess overnight. The sports and social schedule gets jacked up if dad isn’t already clued into the regular routine. Hopefully family or friends come to help. Regardless, the impact is felt keenly in the home when the person running the house is taken out with sickness.

Now if you’re already getting in there and having her rest and eat good food – awesome. If you’re not – pick up the slack in the home, and be an agent of help and peace, it will benefit you in major ways.

The last time I had a major flu where I was taken out for 3-4 days, I remember how my wife kicked into gear and helped me (all while juggling the household, her work, her mother who was in from out of town, and our kids igloo school project that involved oversized marshmallows and a hair dryer).

I was so grateful and impressed by her steady care of me, all without complaining. This is what I try to remember anytime she needs a helping hand or she’s feeling sick or depressed.

You have no idea how much it will benefit you to invest in your woman’s health – either through caring for the immediate needs, or researching what could help. It’s like investing in an account that gets 150% interest – it’s worth everything you put in there because the amount of gratitude, and other benefits you’ll get from a spouse who knows you have her back.

I’m not saying that that you should do all of this to get sex. But hey, if you’re not being an a-hole and you’re helping her like crazy, things happen.

Tip #5 – Choose to be Mr. Consistent with whatever version of her shows up

Yeah, this one takes some intention and determination because when a woman is going through Hashimoto’s, and the attendant emotional and physical ups and down, you may get…

  • Angry partner
  • Exhausted partner
  • Frustrated partner
  • Thankful partner
  • Sad partner
  • ‘It’s all your fault’ partner
  • Fearful partner
  • ‘I give up’ partner

I have had times of really bringing my A game to these scenarios, where I choose to love her even though she’s not reflecting that love back to me. Other times, I’ve gotten frustrated at her, and basically given her a hard time – not so helpful. Usually I think back to the times when she helped me, and get back on track. But heck, even if she hadn’t taken care of me – I have a commitment to her that is strong that was truly tested during her many years of whacko symptoms.

So, here’s the question to you: what is your level of commitment to this person? Because, it could get really gnarly in this process before it gets better. Meds, supplements, and diet changes don’t happen overnight so, even if you’re on the right track, it still takes time for her body to respond to the good things you’re doing. You should really decide who you’re going to be now, cause it’s likely going to get bumpy, possibly for a long while as you both dial in what works for her.

I’m not trying to scare you, but if you’re faint of heart, or in the ‘till inconvenience do us part’ type of commitment, it may not go well for both of you. She’s going to need to focus her energy on getting rest, tracking symptoms, food changes, mind issues, and listening to her body to find that sweet spot of what works for her.

Truly, I want you to be there for your woman, the same way I want me to be there for my wife. To put any excuses aside (if you have any) and put the time and effort that will be required to get her back to health and wholeness. Again, this is an investment that will benefit both of you.

We can do it.

You can do it.

Tip #6 – Know that it’s possible to get her health and life back.

This is important. Without hope, it would be easy to get discouraged. So many doctors visits and tests. Medications and food protocols. Reading thyroid healing books. Making logs of symptoms and thyroid levels. Taking walks together and talking through how we’re doing. Getting the kids on the same page. Making sure I get my time and recharge my own batteries.

But for me, I can tell you that it’s worth all the work we did to get my wife to where she is now in her health. She has more energy and peace. She knows what works for her food-wise, and what relationships don’t add to her life.

This whole adventure is more than just food or pills. You may be thinking, ‘Oh joy… there’s more?’ Yes, there’s more, but that’s ultimately a good thing. It’s highly likely that some of her prior way of thinking and living was part of the issue. The truth is that her new ‘normal’ may be very different than what it was before. Different foods, different pace, and a different way of being. What worked back then may not work for this new season.

With Hashimoto’s, her body is waving a white flag and saying, through symptoms, “There’s something going on! I can’t do this the same way anymore!” This is the opportunity to take the cue and adjust accordingly.

And hopefully, through the experiences my wife and I went through, we can short cut you to the quickest road back to sanity, health, playfulness, peace, and even the bedroom.

You’re not alone.

We’re in this together.

Rock Robbins

Married to Hashimoto's

(along with sons Seth and Caleb, and wife Stacey)

About Rock Robbins

Rock Robbins is an Author and Coach. Check out his book The Guys’ Guide to Hashimoto’s. Rock lives with his wife and 2 sons in Southern California.

READ NEXT: Is Your Thyroid Affecting Your Credibility (by Rock’s wife Stacey)

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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.

Comments

  1. Victoria Bourque-Georgiev says

    After reading this article, my husband told me, “whoever wrote this look like he was watching me what I was doing every day and what I was saying every day.”

    • I am in tears most nights as I just want my wife back. She acts like I don’t exist anymore, she doesnt talk to me, doesn’t want to spend time with me, no intimacy, I feel like she is s new person. She has had a rough couple of years with her family and now hashimotos has changed her into this new person and I feel like I cant cope. I have CFS myself, so picking up all the slack with the house and kids is ruining me, and In turn, I resent her for it. I am doing all I can to support her but I feel like I am the one that needs the support now. What do I do????

  2. I have depression & anxiety all the time. I’m exhausted even if I haven’t worked that day. The days I did work 12 hours a day 7 days a week 4 a shut down lasting 3 months at a power plant. No one understands & I try to just keep my thoughts & feelings to myself. I’m so angry & upset & I don’t know how to express this anger. I need help expressing it. I don’t know how or I’m too stupid. Just tired of being tired with brain fog, lethargy, depression, anxiety & on & on & on.

  3. thanks for your words.
    My husband HAVE to read this article.
    He don’t understand what i’m going through.
    I feel like i’ve changed and that new person don’t please him.
    And he is waiting for the old one come back, but I can’t garatee that.
    I don’t even know what I can espect for this disease.
    Every week is diferent. One almost good, other umberable…
    I’m from Brazil, and you helped me a lot with this article, believe me.
    It’s made for husbands, but I could understand what to realy expect from him (and that i’m not crazy for feel bad seeing that he’s not supporting me).
    Thanks a lot. I’ll find a way to him read this.

  4. I have suffered with hypothyroidism for many years. Not married, so I don’t have a spouse to not understand. I never know from one day to the next how I’m going to be feeling. I do a pretty good job of staying a pretty happy person because I understand and accept the different things that I’m going through. I will say that it can get kind of depressing not knowing what your next day is going to be like. Most days I’d say 99% of the time I feel fine, but there are so many symptoms. Some days you’re just plain worn out from fighting all the symptom. It would help if doctors knew more about this disease and it would also help if people just simply believed you when you said you weren’t feeling well.

  5. I wish my husband would have read this before he jumped to conclusions about what I was going through. He thought that I didn’t want sex because I was having it with someone else. I didn’t want it cause I had no drive. Unfortunately he couldn’t see that & because his drive was so high & more important than what I was going through he filed for divorce. He told me that if he was having more sex than he could have overlooked everything I was doing or not doing. He tore up my world & not sure if I will ever be the same again. I had hyperactive thyroid & now am hypo. What a roller coaster ride.

    • February 7th was the 17-year mark for my husband and I and even now after having Hashimoto’s for 16 of those years and him dealing with it alongside me from the get-go there’s been divorce papers in our possession more than one time. It seems like every time we get into an argument still I get accused of having someone else because of the lack of Drive and he just doesn’t understand when I tell him point-blank that I can barely tolerate myself or him most days why in the hell would I bring a third person into that mix 🙁 I feel better now than I have in about 12 years but in order to get to that point I had to make the conscious decision that I had to focus on me and my health and keeping me going so I could take care of my kids and if he wanted to learn and be supportive and stick by me great but if he decided that’s not what was going to happen and it was just too hard and left then I’d be okay with that too…. the way I look at it that is just one less stress on my plate, however harsh that sounds and I do love my husband with all my heart but this disease can literally kill me if untreated or if levels are too low for too long so I have to focus on me first and foremost

  6. This was a great article I have the other side of the coin, it is my fiance who had his thyroid removed and it has caused him to have hypothyroidism. I am trying to get him to understand his disease and what it is doing and why we have to try different ways of eating and doing things.
    Thank you for the article.

  7. Robert THOMAS says

    Damn it iam an idiot,my wife was diagnosed with the disease 33 years ago she had surgery to remove part of her thyroid, I always wondered what was her problem. I have always thought they took out the bad part and now she s fine,Boy was I wrong!!!!!. After reading this article I now understand . I love her to the moon and back and iam going to help her in any aspect of life she needs.Thank you for waking my ass up to this,i feel so very very stupid.thanks again for waking me up.

  8. Awesome article! My wife and have been battling with this for about 6 years now. After the first 3 years of normal marriage, she was pregnant with our second child. And then our world was flipped up side down. I have been guilty of so much of the negative things in this article, and I hate that. But it has gotten better and I think we are stronger now more than ever. Thanks for the awesome!

  9. Wonderful!!! My beautiful wife has struggled with Hashimoto’s for seven years now. Sadly she was just diagnosed with it less than a year ago. Doctor after doctor treated symptoms and not my wife. She has had to learn to walk again and was told she would never function as a “normal” person again. Her struggles continue, but she now has more of her life back. We have stuck together through the first day and it’s sometimes not all that easy to do.

  10. Good stuff Bill! My wife was thrilled that I read your piece. It validates our efforts just knowing we are not alone. It’s a no brainer for me to do my best to understand the illness and support my partner, even when it’s frustrating. It has taken some time, as you say, to get the food and medicine right, but we’ll be fine. Thanks for offering a great perspective!

    • I thought I had read everything about this illness, but i was so wrong and have not been nearly as supportive as I should be. I feel so ashamed and would always think what am i doing wrong. I must to better and I will. I love my wife to much.

      Thanks

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