Menopause is a time in a woman’s life when natural hormones stop production. Menopause usually occurs around the age of 51 but for some women can start as early as 35. This process can take some time to complete.
Today’s blog is different; it is to guide men dealing with menopausal women and their symptoms and emotions.
Over the past week, I received several phone calls from women feeling completely out of control describing their mood swings to be destructive. Most important, I heard each of them say how their marriage is in trouble and their husbands are going to divorce them if the situation doesn’t change. They also stated that they don’t believe their mates understand them or what is happening.
With this, I thought it would be helpful to share what I have researched, read, and learned about perimenopause, menopause and relationships. In particular, this post is dedicated to my friend Esther.
One of the most common and debilitating symptoms during perimenopause and menopause which many women suffer is mood swings. It not only affects her but her relationship with her partner or spouse and all around her. Her mood can rapidly fluctuate and emotions may be out of control. At times women may notice the sudden change in her moods and at others she may not. She may think she is in control but may not be. At times she may be perfect and in just a short time may be a ball of nerves. This is a time to understand that these emotions are completely normal. It may appear that she is lashing out at you but she is not.
Here is a list of ways women can be supported by their mate (or family):
*Don’t personalize her moods
*Offer to help
*Approve of her
*Remember why you are together
*Help her get the sleep she needs
*Support her in pursuing her interests
*Support her health by doing things together
*Don’t pressure her for sex
Here is a detailed description of each copied from coping with menopause/helpful spouse/partner:
- Educate yourself. Learn everything you possibly can about what menopause is like and what changes and experiences are common. Once you see that mood swings and hot flashes are common, and that it’s nothing you are doing, it helps you to relax about all the ups and downs.
- Talk. Even if communication has never been your thing, if you say out loud that you want to be helpful, then your menopausal partner will at least know you are on her side. If you are already a good communicator, tell her you can see that menopause is not for sissies, and ask her something like, “What’s the best thing I can do to help you get through this?”
- Believe her. This can be a really trying time, so if your wife or partner says she is doing the best she can, believe her. Sometimes women feel fragile and hardly know themselves during the menopause years, so even if it looks to you as though she could “help it” if she wanted to, it may not be that simple.
- Be Patient. In the short run and in the long run. Cutting her some slack when she seems sad or angry will go a long way toward being able to be close later. The message you send when you are patient is: You are worth waiting for, and this isn’t going to last forever.
- Don’t personalize her moods. If your partner gets upset, don’t turn her upset into your upset. She can be angry or sad or frustrated, and you can listen to her without making it about you.
- Offer to help. Getting help with the dishes or having the living room picked up when she gets home can help ease a hectic schedule. Whatever you can do to keep her from going from busy into overwhelmed is a plus. Especially if she doesn’t have to ask!
- Approve of her. This is a perfect time to tell her that you admire her and why. Don’t patronize her, though, because she knows you and she can see through that from a mile away.
- Remember why you are together. Take the long view. You’ve been together this long for a reason, and you want to be close for the rest of your lives together. In the heat of the moment, remind yourself why you have chosen to stay with her, and in a calm moment you might even want to share that with her.
- Help her get the sleep she needs. Insomnia is very common during the menopause transition, and if you are a snorer, find a way to spare her that waking. If you need a sleep study, get one and use a CPAP to decrease your snoring. (It will help your heart too, since sleep apnea can cause cardiac damage.) Or offer to sleep in the guest room on weeknights so that she can get some real sleep. Turn off the television in the bedroom. Whatever it takes to give her the best night’s sleep will help her mood tremendously.
- Support her in pursuing her interests. If she wants to take a night class or join a book group, do what you can to make it easy for her. She will feel more hopeful and eager for life if she can do the things that interest her. And yes, it’s OK to ask the same of her.
- Support her health by doing things together. Getting started in an exercise plan is easier if you have company. Offer to take nightly walks with her, or bike around a lake every weekend. It can become a healthy ritual that you both feel good about.
12. Be playful. Keep your sense of humor and help her feel that there is still fun in your relationship. Plan surprise gifts or secret dinner outings that celebrate your connection. A light sense of humor will keep the doors open to closeness. Warning: Be careful not to use sarcasm to make a point, and don’t use humor as a way to show anger or disapproval. If both people aren’t laughing, then it’s not funny. Period.
13. Don’t pressure her for sex. This is a common struggle during the menopausal years, where libido may wane for her (or for you) and one partner wants sex more than the other. The trick is in finding a balance of closeness, touch and sexual activity. Vaginal changes during menopause may make sex uncomfortable or even painful. Focus for awhile on just staying physically close. Ask her what feels good to her, and offer it. A foot rub or a shoulder massage without any expectation of going further will keep you connected.
Perimenopause and Menopause is a natural occurrence in women. It is a time in her life when she is experiencing change that she may not necessarily always be able control. Her menopausal symptom of mood swings can be supported by her mate or spouse and help the relationship. They too can get comfort in ways in which to understand the process of menopause.
Don’t forget to print the above and place it on your refrigerator or in a place that is helpful for both of you.
Until next time, Be empowered, Stay motivated, Be connected … AnnaMaria
About the author: AnnaMaria is a 49 year old single mother of two. She has had the privilege of assisting many perimenopausal, menopausal and post menopausal woman transform their lives not only physically but emotionally. It is with compassion and understanding as she journeys through the phase of menopause to share her experiences and knowledge with all women. Her goal is to empower women to know that age doesn’t matter, to know that they deserve to look and feel their best and to help solve the menopause puzzle.
Subscribe to her newsletter, enter your email at the top of this page for more insight and to join the menopause community.