I don’t typically write posts specifically to share with the man in your life, but I'm making an exception for this one.
We all know that men want to fix things. It’s really not their fault, they’re hard wired that way, but when it comes to physical and psychological effects of menopause, there is no fixing. Most men will try and solve your emotions rather than soothing them and that is not exactly a recipe for success when interacting with a woman who is mood swinging and hot flashing from here to Timbuktu. So, what can your hubby do to help you through this transition, or at least not make it worse? Here are 10 things you can both do to ease the tension and help each other through:
1. Angry Emotional Outbursts
YOU CAN: Recognize that it’s not your husband that is truly the cause of your mood (most of the time) and reassure him of that.
HE CAN: Try to keep in mind that she isn’t really mad at you and try not to take it personally. And remember, it’ll pass.
2. Emotional Distress – “The Weepies”
YOU CAN: Talk to your husband about what is bothering you, whether that be your kids moving out, your elderly parents getting sick, financial worry or any number of other things. You may be less adept at emotionally coping during the transition to menopause, and communicating your need for emotional support will go a long way into making him feel useful.
HE CAN: Offer a shoulder to cry on and a genuine interest in talking through whatever is upsetting her. Being an active listener is key to making your loved one feel safe, nurtured, and heard.
3. New Interests
YOU CAN: Try to follow a passion that was shelved while you were raising kids or climbing ladders. Take a painting class, learn guitar, join a book club, get a new job, go back to school. Opening your life up to new experiences can help distract from the emotional turmoil you may be going through. If you are going to be chockablock full of emotions, try to make them positive, fulfilling ones!
HE CAN: Show excitement for whatever she is pursuing or trying. Be proud of her for expanding herself and be accommodating of her new schedule.
4. Changing Libido
YOU CAN: Recognize that it is likely shifting hormone levels that are causing a possible loss of interest in sex and tell her husband that you are still just as attracted to him as always. It just might take more to get your motor running. Vaginal dryness may also be an issue, so if you are finding sex painful, be sure to talk to your husband and your doctor to come up with solutions.
HE CAN: Not take it personally, and realize that her hormones will level out again once her body has time to adjust. Be willing to go to the drugstore and buy some lubricant if needed, or talk to your own doctor for things you might try.
5. Symptom Potpourri
YOU CAN: Try to eliminate energy-robbing responsibilities from your calendar, get the rest you need, start eating healthier and ask him for help more often. Let your husband know that you might experience weight gain, thinning hair, sleep problems, depression, night sweats, and any number of other symptoms. The more he knows about what to expect, the more he can feel connected to you and the more you will both feel like a team.
HE CAN: Accept these changes as part of the life cycle of all women and remember the woman you fell in love with is still there. Oh, and a little pampering will go a long, long way.
The rest are just for the loved one in your life. Remember these important rules to support the menopausal woman in your life:
6. Don’t use her symptoms as cocktail party or water cooler jokes. No one likes being the brunt of jokes and let’s face it, it’s just mean to mock your wife for being “old”, or forgetful, or having hot flashes.
7. Ask questions. Ask her if you can help. Ask her how she feels. Ask her if she’d like to go out on a date. Interact as much as she’ll let you, and if she won’t let you, tell her you’re there if she wants to talk.
8. Don’t try to give her advice. Unless she is asking you to provide technical support, or help build a wine rack, or install solar panels, don’t try to advise on how to “handle things”, or to wear cooler clothing, or to go see a doctor. Believe me, she knows, and you trying to instruct her on how to get through menopause will only ever come across as patronizing and condescending.
9. Don’t be a punching bag. While you want to be supportive, there is a limit to how much anyone should have to take. If you think she’s being very unreasonable, tell her how you feel. She may not even be aware of how her moods are effecting you and she may need to take steps to control her temper.
10. DON'T STRAY! Menopause is a natural biological process, an inevitable part of life for half of the population. Don’t make the woman you love worry about your fidelity on top of everything else. Remember, she likely wouldn’t cheat on you or leave you just because you put on a few pounds, or your hair started thinning, or you begin having erectile dysfunction issues. Work together towards a new and deeper relationship where both of you feel valued and appreciated.