For many women, menopause is a time of intense physiological and emotional change. This time of life creates huge challenges for a woman to manage. However, how does menopause affect husbands and partners who spend their lives with women struggling with menopause symptoms?
According to a recent survey conducted by AARP Magazine, over 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s or 60s (which are typically the menopause years of a woman's life). How do the symptoms and changes a woman experiences affect the person with whom she shares her life? Here are just a few of the physical and emotional symptoms a woman may experience during menopause that could affect her marriage:
Mood Swings: One menopause symptom that could affect marriage is drastic mood swings. Hormonal changes during menopause may cause a woman's mood to fluctuate from being depressed, irritated, and sad to extremely peaceful and calm. This may completely confuse partners who aren't quite sure how to adapt to such changing emotions. Keep the lines of communication open, especially during the moments of calmness, to discuss changing emotions.
Quite often, as menopause symptoms begin to appear, women are also dealing with other significant life changes. Children moving out of the home, upcoming retirement, and a change in life focus may cause increased stress in a woman's life. These huge life changes, coupled with volatile mood swings, may create an incredible amount of stress on an otherwise happy marriage.
Physical Changes: A woman's body goes through a number of physical changes besides the cessation of menstruation and the onset of hot flashes. As hormone levels fluctuate, women have an increased tendency to put on weight. Thinning hair is another symptom some women experience during menopause. Often, the physical changes to a woman's body greatly affect her self-esteem. This may present as depression and can put quite a strain on a woman's marriage.
Getting more exercise and eating a healthy diet may help to both shed those unwanted pounds and improve a woman's mood. Exercise is also a great way to relieve the tension and anxiety that often plague menopausal women.
Decreased Sex Drive: According to Denise A. Donnelly, an expert on sexless marriages, couples that have more sex are happier than others. Many women experience a decrease in sex drive, which puts a strain on their relationship with their partner. Many also suffer from vaginal dryness, which may lead to uncomfortable sex and/or an avoidance of intimacy. The lack of intimacy and avoidance of sex can leave partners feeling unloved and unwanted.
For some women, the loss of menstruation indicates a lack of fertility, often making her feel less feminine or desirable. For others, a lack of communication in other areas of life causes arguments and hurt feelings, resulting in less interest in physical intimacy. Talk to your partner about your feelings regarding sex and set aside time for physical intimacy. Talk to your doctor about possible solutions to your lowered sex drive and vaginal dryness.
While women definitely have a lot of emotional and physical changes to deal with during menopause, men may need help understanding what they are experiencing. Many men are not great at communication skills and may keep their questions and concerns bottled up inside. Without addressing the added stress menopause puts on a marriage, relationships may fail completely. Keep the lines of communication open, and talk to your spouse about your symptoms and emotional struggles. If you find that communication doesn't seem to be working, consider seeking out a marriage therapist who may be able to help.
What are the chances your marriage survives your menopause? Menopause Aid. Retrieved January 18, 2016. http://menopause-aid.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-are-chances-your-marriage-survives.html
Effects of Menopause on Marriage. Only My Health. Retrieved January 18, 2016. http://www.onlymyhealth.com/effects-menopause-marriage-1308717768
Reviewed January 18, 2016 By Philip Sarrel, M.D. and Lorna Sarrel, M.S.Read more in Your Guide for Menopause & Hot Flash Treatment Options