My mother-in-law once said I talk to hear myself talk. That comment did not make me happy (and yes, I loved my mother-in-law). I do admit, however, that I’m a huge talker. But during menopause, this talker clammed up. Not being open with my husband about my emotional ups and downs was the biggest mistake I made. I lost the genuine support he would have given me.
Now happily on the other side of the Change of Life, here’s my list of five mistakes many couples make during menopause. Better yet, here are tips on how to avoid those mistakes:
1. Not Being Honest: Let your partner know what you’re feeling physically and emotionally. Don’t be shy and don’t tiptoe. If a disagreement erupts, lean into it. “In the Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to 15 Common Fights, What They Really Mean & How They Can Bring You Closer” features therapists Judith and Bob Wright reflections on their own fights: “We are often amazed at the information and personal learning that surfaces in fights and the intimacy we develop.”
2. Not Asking for What You Need: A more functional home office? Chats on the back porch? A softer tone of voice in the morning? Ask for what you need. “Leaning to listen to your own feelings and share them is probably the most important skill in improving relationships,” writes Jeffery Smith in “How We Heal and Grow: The Power of Facing Your Feelings.” Don’t expect your partner to read your mind, ever!
3. Not Discussing Your Sex Life: Vaginal dryness and lowered libido can make a menopausal woman less interested in sex. Your partner may take this personally, thinking your relationship, not menopause, is to blame. Explain how sex has changed for you and listen carefully to reactions and suggestions. Then keep talking.
Consult your doctor, nurses, friends, and if you’re brave enough, your mom. Gather information and ideas. Many couples, once adjustments are made, find sex in the menopausal years to be freeing and fulfilling.
4. Not Having Fun: Have fun together every day, no matter how busy you are. One couple takes turns inventing engaging questions such as “What’s the worst restaurant meal we’ve ever eaten and why?” and “We get to move to a brand new planet. Name 20 people we’ll bring with us.” Another couple walks around the block every night with a rule that the conversation has to be light. And never underestimate the power of the date night and the delight of celebrating special occasions.
5. Not Being Patient: Look on menopause as a time of transition. Most women step off the roller coaster filled with energy and enthusiasm for the years ahead. Men can also go through hormonal changes that cause physical and emotional upheaval. Be patient with your bodies. Be patient with your spirits. And most of all, be patient with one another. Good days are a comin’!
Reviewed March 17, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Smith, Jeffrey. How to Heal and Grow: The Power of Facing Your Feelings. Libentia Press. 2014. pg. 100.
Wright, Judith and Wright, Bob. The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to 15 Common Fights, What They Really Mean & How They Can Bring You Closer. New Harbinger Publications. 2016. pg. 8.