In a recent article on EmpowHER titled "Facing Menopause Together" we concluded with this advice, "So, turn from the computer to your partner and say 'I really need your help. I think I’m facing menopause and I need to talk with you about it.' "
Did you try doing this ? If so, we’d like to hear from you about how it went and we’d like to hear from your partner.
In the “Facing Menopause” article we described how a couple can start to learn together about the topic of menopause and, by visiting your gynecologist, ask questions about symptoms, health and therapies. Those are great ways to begin to deal with the facts. But what about all the associated feelings?
The range of feelings people have about menopause as they experience the process is enormous. Just a few examples: She feels, "This is the start of being old and no one will ever find me sexy again, including me." He thinks, "She’s so distracted and not into sex; she must be having an affair." She worries that her memory lapses are a sign of dementia. Sometimes, during a bad hot flash, she thinks about suicide.
Granted, these examples are dramatic ones, but menopause brings so much challenge and change that it’s essential for a couple to talk, talk, talk.
There are a few guidelines that can help couples discuss their feelings, talk about decisions and choices they face and become closer in the process. By the way, what we suggest applies whether your partner is a he or another she but in this article we are going to write using the pronouns she and he. Every couple should have a face to face conversation at least a few times every week. Find a quiet time with TV and cell phones turned off.
One of you begins- let’s say it’s you- and talks, uninterruptedly, until you say you’re done. Then he can respond with his concerns, feelings and questions. Follow the five guidelines below when talking.
1. There are no right or wrong feelings. Feelings are facts.
2. Start your sentences with the word “I” not the word "you." Especially avoid sentences that start with "You never" or "You always." And don’t cheat by saying "I think you…"
3. Stay in the present and don’t dredge up old hurts. There may eventually be a need to talk about the past but first get good at dealing with what’s happening in the present.
4. For the listener, it can be tempting to offer helpful suggestions but hold off on that and focus on how you feel about what your partner has just said.
5. Validate one another’s efforts. For example, "I bet it wasn’t easy for you to talk about that." Better yet, ask "Was it hard for you to talk about that?" Notice that the second approach, asking, helps you avoid second-guessing what your partner is feeling.
Sometimes a close, personal, and intimate conversation turns into desire. That’s fine but you do need to avoid making sex an expectation. If either of you starts to feel that talking MUST lead to sex, that could complicate the ease you need for honest, close conversations.Read more in Advancing Health After Hysterectomy