I hate menopause! But then, I also kind-of love it.
Sure, menopause is a bitch. I’m grumpy, bloated, can’t sleep, and feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore, will my marriage survive menopause?
Even though, it has the potential to wreak havoc on my marriage, menopause is amazing because I no longer have my “monthly visitor.” But most importantly, this rite of passage for women of a certain age is motivating me to travel down a surprising path of self-discovery and growth.
Menopause has made my baseline discomfort in my body escalate to proportions I didn’t know was possible. Not to be too graphic, but the body changes, included but not limited to constipation, hair loss, pimples and water retention.
Putting on my favorite jeans is a wrestling match I lose every time! I’ve sought out naturopath doctors, nutritionists, Ayurvedic doctors, hormone doctors and tons and tons of books to help me through “the change.” The frustrating part is that they often contradict each other.
I saw this hilarious post on Instagram. “Eat five small meals per day and run. Also, only eat breakfast and dinner, and walk. Also, eat lots of protein and lift, and don’t even do any cardio, it’s bad for your joints. Also, don’t eat too much protein and make sure you’re sleeping a lot. But don’t be sedentary. But don’t be too active its bad for your blood pressure…” I thought this was hilarious because of the ironic standard contradictions.
1. How does menopause affect relationships and your life?
Menopause is forcing me to look inward at what is happening not only in my body but in my mind, my spirit, and my relationships, most importantly my marriage. My poor husband. I wonder what it’s like living with me. So, I asked, not only my husband but a small sampling of husband’s in my practice going through this with their wives.
These are some of the descriptive words used to illustrate their view of their wives “Hot (temperature wise), loving, contemptuous, emotional, hell on wheels, psychotic, moody, and mean.” “Hell on wheels” was my favorite as I can personally relate to this one.
One of the struggles is when my mood can shift in about 5 seconds flat. I can be sweet and calm one minute – suddenly, the heat rises as if my head has been stuck in an oven. I’m in a rage. I say things in anger that shock me.
Another struggle is the low sex-drive. After taking testosterone and breaking out in pimples, I stopped taking it to see if the low sex drive is really about the hormone or is it stress in my life? I highly recommend re-evaluating one’s stress level. Stress feeds the menopause monster.
Stress also alters our hormones and our ability to metabolize our hormones. If there is too much stress in our lives, then it puts too much stress on our adrenals and our whole internal system can break down. Including our sex drive!
I’m aware I need the testosterone hormone, but it is creating a side effect that is not worth it for me. Same with my progesterone. I blew up like a water balloon. My doctor said it would subside but after several months, it did not. I decided to take a break. As I seek out alternatives, whether that is through herbs or other forms of hormones, it is my responsibility to manage my stress better.
The daily self-care is essential. Exercise (not too strenuous) and meditation are life savers. Finding ways to maintain stability both physically and emotionally is so important.
2. Does menopause make you emotional?
Menopause is a real thing and affects every woman differently. There is no cookie-cutter solution. Some women have horrible anxiety, night sweats and sleepless nights. Some women have no effects at all.
If you’re a perfectionist, it’s even worse. Menopause tends to trigger feeling out of control. The loss of one’s body and how it changes shape and how it is affected by stress starts to feel very out of control, which is poison to a perfectionist. It drives the need to have control and be perfect even stronger.
The more out of control we feel, the more we try to control, the more strife and conflict we will notice in our marriage. This is where it is easy to become a “nag”. We find every little thing that is bothersome, and we point it out to our husbands. They then start to feel like nothing they do is good enough. This dynamic may have been in the marriage before menopause, but “the change” makes it 10 times worse.
How many of us feel I must handle every situation correctly? I must be in a good mood all the time. I must look good and be desirable. I must handle my emotions with extreme class and God forbid I raise my voice or show some emotional charge.
3. What might work?
I’m learning and practicing how compassion is the antidote to the shame of not being perfect. If a girlfriend told me she had been in a fit of rage and felt like a monster, I would let her know, “It’s ok, you’re human, and we all make mistakes. Just own it and move on.”
I’m learning to apply that same compassion for a friend to myself. It is so helpful and removes the shame when I can see I am human. Plus, I know that any woman going through hormonal changes, whether it’s her period, childbirth, or menopause, know exactly what I am talking about. I know we’re not alone.
Here are some ideas and possible resources to manage this transition in your life and how it can benefit your marriage or at least minimize the damage.
- Evaluate your stress and make necessary adjustments to reduce it as much as possible. Do you cry a lot during menopause? If you do then you need to find ways to calm yourself.
- Exercise 20-30 min of cardio 2-3x per week and incorporate yoga and meditation to your life.
- Individual and/or couples’ therapy to get needed support through the changes happening.
- Ask your spouse to be patient as you work through the discomforts that impact you. In other words, communicate and let him know what you’re thinking and feeling and how he can support you.
- Find the right supplements or hormones that are right for you. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, so honor yourself and find what works for you
- Practice daily self-compassion and remember you’re human.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Lesley Goth