67: Living in Hormone Hell

67: Living in Hormone Hell

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Living in Hormone Hell

No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.

~Henry Kissinger

My wife and I had our daughter Sarah a bit late in life. Cheryl was thirty-eight and I was forty-five. We thought that was a good thing.

In many respects, it was. After all, as mature parents, we figured we would be better prepared to deal with the challenges of child rearing. And, for the most part, that’s how it turned out.

Since we were older, we had fewer financial challenges. And having already settled into our careers, we had more time to devote to Sarah’s upbringing.

What I hadn’t counted on was that fifteen years later the numbers wouldn’t add up in my favor. Cheryl’s now fifty-three and Sarah’s almost fifteen.

What that means is that, as a sixty-year-old male, I am caught in an estrogen-laced web spun by two hormonally challenged females. Sarah is riding the emotional waves of adolescence while Cheryl is buffeted by the ups and downs of menopause.

Dealing with one of them at a time is hard enough. But when they’re both in full-blown hormonal overdrive, it can be a bit too much.

I can handle Sarah’s mood swings and teenage angst on its own. And I can survive Cheryl’s mood swings and dramatic temperature shifts when it’s just the two of us.

But put both of them together in estrogen flux and I haven’t got a chance. No matter what I do or say, it’s wrong.

Sarah wants to know if her new haircut looks okay. If I say no, she says I’m an uncool old geezer who doesn’t know anything. If I say yes, she says I’m only saying that because I’m her dad.

Cheryl wants to know why the temperature is so hot. If I agree that it’s hot, she knows I’m just trying to humor her and tells me to turn on the central air. If I tell her it isn’t hot she says I’m an idiot and orders me to turn on the central air.

What’s an aging befuddled father/husband to do? Avoidance doesn’t work and silence is not an option.

One-on-one, I can often gingerly back out of the room and extricate myself from the dilemma. If I can make it down the stairs and into the basement TV room, I’m usually safe.

But if they’re both assaulting me with no-win questions, I tend to just adopt a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look and hope for the best. Clasping my hands in mock prayer, I beseech whatever goddess governs matters gynecological to deliver me from their wrath.

Sometimes I’m lucky and Cheryl and Sarah lock horns and argue with each other. “You don’t understand; you never understand!” wails Sarah. “I’ve asked you a million times to clean up your room and you never ever listen!” replies Cheryl.

When the two of them are in high dudgeon, I can usually quickly absent myself, with the emphasis on “quickly.” For if I am not opportunistic and fleet of foot, they will ensnare me in their web of women’s woes.

“Where do you think you’re going?” says Cheryl. “Get back here. We have to settle this now.”

“Dad, can’t you see how unreasonable she’s being?” says Sarah. “Make her stop.”

This is the ultimate in folly. If I had any sense, I would simply run from the room, jump in the car and drive for as long as it takes for hormonal balance and sanity to return to the Martin household.

But no, I naively and stupidly believe that my rational participation in this dispute will result in a calm and logical resolution happily embraced by all. Needless to say, that particular result has occurred exactly zero times.

Initially, I figured that I would have to weather this storm and simply wait until Sarah had passed through adolescence and Cheryl had released the menopause button. But it turns out that I have my own hormonal challenges that allow me to join in as an equal partner in the fray.

As a male in his sixties, I am now experiencing the joys of something called late-onset hypogonadism, more commonly known as andropause. So now, when I am caught in an estrogen sandwich by my wife and daughter, instead of trying to argue or escape, I simply dissolve into tears. Then we all start crying, which leads to a group hug and the end of the current dispute. At least until tomorrow.


~David Martin

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