After combing the web and not finding a single step by step process for men on how to deal with their wife as she goes through the most significant change in her life (Yes, more significant than puberty because that really was a walk in the park compared to perimenopause and menopause symptoms).
I thought I would give you a little primer so:
A. You can help your wife
B. So you can maintain your own sanity.
Let’s get a few definitions out of the way. Perimenopause is what happens before actual menopause and can seem to take down even the most stoic of women with hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, etc… Menopause is when she hasn’t had her period for at least one year. Here is a quick rundown of symptoms that are common for women going through this time of their life:
- Breast Pain
- Brittle Fingernails
- Burning Mouth
- Changes In Body Odor
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Digestive Problems
- Electric Shock Sensations
- Gum Problems
- Hair Loss
- Hot Flashes
- Irregular Periods
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Joint Aches
- Loss Of Libido
- Low Energy
- Muscle Problems
- Mood Swings
- Night Sweats
- Ringing In The Ears
- Tingling Extremities
- Urinary Incontinence
- Vaginal Dryness
- Weight Gain or loss
Read that list again, in fact print it off and tape it up somewhere because if you aren’t deeply considering what it would be like to live with one or more of those symptoms occurring, usually all at the same time, then you really aren’t getting the full gist of what it might be like for your wife.
Now, since women go through this change in their own unique way – you have no idea what you can expect and neither does she. She might have an idea from what her mom went through, but really, it’s unique to every woman. In other words, don’t place expectations on her just because some other women seemed to sail through this change relatively unscathed. Your wife might not be that lucky and It IS NOT A CHOICE.
While “hot flashes” sound like “Yea, so she gets really hot and uncomfortable for a few minutes” – it’s actually more like “Oh my God, I have been set on fire from the inside out”.
They are intense and exhausting.
Did you get that – exhausting?
Yes, it saps our energy, not only the hot flashes, but just about every other symptom as well. Chances are your wife is strong and will carry on, perhaps even fairly normally, but underneath that something seriously strenuous is going on for her and if you make light of that, you will not be able to fully grasp the implications of what she might be going through during this time of her life.
Also when she’s almost impossible to live with at times, it’s because she’s dealing with something that is absolutely one of the most challenging things she may ever have to live through. Your understanding of that alone can have a crucial impact on how all that plays out in your marriage.
If you can start to really wrap your head around that, realize she’s not choosing this experience and while it can last for a long time (years) it is temporary. Plus, there are good days mixed in with the bad days, just not something she or you can plan on – so don’t bother, just enjoy the good days and realize those bad days might be hard on you, they are quite literally much harder on her.
Now, what can you do to help your menopausal wife?
Drop the expectations. If you have taken it for granted that your wife is going to be up for – well anything really – it helps to realize she might not be up for much more than just trying to get through the day sometimes.
Be kind. If you were going through what she was going through, you would want to feel that your wife would be compassionate and understanding and that is absolutely the best skills to give to your wife during these challenging times.
Develop a sense of humor. NO – NEVER, EVER, EVER laugh at her or her symptoms. Women are known to get away with murder due to hormonal insanity – so just lighten up and keep as positive as possible.
Be forgiving. Sometimes your wife is not even going to know who she is when those mood swings hit and will be appalled at herself. The last thing she needs is for you to treat her as if she’s being difficult on purpose.
Don’t take it personally. Your wife loves you the same even if she seems moody, distant and possible to read from one minute to the next. She’s going through something you will never be able to fully understand and her outbursts, mood swings, etc… are probably every bit as troubling to her as they are to you.
Be ready. If she says she isn’t up to something, understand it. She might need more quiet evenings alone with you or just alone to try to keep herself centered and grounded while her body is doing everything possible to prove she’s insane. She might need to leave a social situation if she gets too uncomfortable or might not be able to keep up the way you are used to.
Work with her on a daily basis. Things are going to change for her day to day, sometimes even minute to minute. Keep that in mind and do your best to go with the flow.
Be Assuring and Encouraging. You cannot possibly assure her enough during this time. Menopause symptoms leave the most gorgeous, stable woman feeling ugly (Such as that clammy feeling from going through so many hot flashes or other not so wonderful symptoms), unstable – even worthless. Depression is a huge risk at this time and your ongoing assurance and encouragement is very much needed during this time.
If you deeply love your wife, learn how to help take care of her. Ask her if she needs anything and be a good sport about tending to her special needs. She would do the same for you and probably has over the years if you’ve ever been going through something deeply emotional or even had a bad cold or illness, or have otherwise needed some extra special loving care from her.
This is your opportunity to really, really love her.
Trust me, she will be more than happy to make up for that on her good days and your marriage will thrive despite this inconvenience.
This time of life is not easy for any marriage, but you can make it through and actually come out much closer and happier than before if you remember to be patient, kind and compassionate. Your wife will be eternally grateful and you will reap the rewards of that as she feels better, so hang in there and remember, this is a temporary situation in your lifelong journey together.