5 tips to talk to your spouse about transitioning into peri/menopause
It can seem like a lot is on your shoulders once peri/menopause starts. You barely understand what is going on with your body and you have to try and help your spouse understand what is going on, too. If you haven’t already considered meeting a couples therapist, this could be a great time to see how this works for you and your spouse. If your spouse isn’t ready to take that step, maybe start seeing a therapist on your own to get tips to help you first.
To start the conversation at home, we wanted to give you five tips for what to discuss with your spouse so they can support you through this time in your life.
Women can feel alone once they start experiencing peri/menopause. This feeling of being alone could be for a variety of reasons, including:
- they are getting older and just aren’t ready for that chapter in their lives
- they will no longer be able to have children
- they never resolved issues they had when they were younger
Regardless of why, it never seems to be an easy transition into this part of life. So, don’t hold anything back or feel like you are crazy if you feel a certain way. The more you share, the easier it will be for your spouse to help you. If you allow negative thoughts to fester then it will only get worse.
If you are reading a book or an article about peri/menopause share it with your spouse. This is a great way to start discussions about what is concerning you.
Meet with your doctor and share your symptoms and what you think might be triggering them. Have your doctor set up a panel of tests for women in midlife. We have a list you can use here. If you feel comfortable, take your husband to this appointment and let him ask questions as well. If your spouse doesn’t join you in the appointment, take notes and share what you learn with your husband. The more they understand, the easier it will be for them to support you through this period in your life.
Make a PlanMood swings during peri/menopause can be set off sometimes out of nowhere. A study found that 70% of women experience irritability the most during peri/menopause. When you feel like you are getting angry, walk away and write in a journal. Writing in a journal when you are angry can be an exercise for you to reflect on what might be triggering your anger beyond hormones. After you feel a little better go back to your spouse and talk through what you are feeling. Your spouse can start to feel defensive if they are always getting yelled at so keep that in mind when you sit down after clearing your head.
Be honest with your partner. Let them know what you need to feel special. During this time in life, you can start reflecting on your life and might feel like things weren’t done that you expected. Unfortunately, people can’t read your mind, and just like Steve in “And Just Like That,” sometimes spouses get comfortable and think everything is fine the way it is. When, the other person might need more: more attention, more gifts, more affirmation. If you need something new, make sure to express that feeling.
A lifestyle change together
Working out and eating right needs to be a lifestyle to make an impact on your health. Mayo Clinic highlights the benefits of working out and eating correctly during peri/menopause: help your mood, help improve your symptoms and help prevent the risk of a variety of diseases.
The best way to approach a lifestyle change is by doing it with those around you. This way, it is more of a family activity like going for a walk after dinner or weekend yoga to unwind. It’s also very helpful when everyone wants to eat the same foods. It’s difficult when one person is eating plant-based and another person requires meat at every meal. The American Psychology Association provides tips for how to make a lifestyle change that will last here.
Support needs to happen at night too
Sleep can be interrupted by night sweats, which can lead to mood swings that end in a fight. Spouses may benefit from approaching night sweats as they would if their partner had to wake up to care for an infant: It’s a night task that shouldn’t be handled alone. It’s a grueling task, but try to not leave her alone in this. Maybe set up a night routine together where both people turn off phones and TVs and read before bed. Make it an experience you would both want to do together that is peaceful and relaxing. If a spouse is exhausted in the morning after being woken up by a night sweat, help take on the morning activities like maybe helping get a child ready for school or making breakfast so that she can have a little extra rest in the morning.
Sex and other things
Sex during peri/menopause might be difficult. Vaginal dryness/pain can make it uncomfortable, and low libido can make it hard to get both people on the same page with intimacy. Don’t give up. Communicate about what feels good and what doesn’t. Use this experience to find new intimate moments like baths together, massaging each other, or trying new things you’ve always been curious about. And, be patient. This is a new experience for both people involved. A study found that maintaining a sexual relationship during perimenopause can help with the peri/menopause symptoms. If things seem too difficult, meet with a sex therapist who could help with new ideas.
Peri/menopause is not forever. Or as they say, this too shall pass. You and your spouse will grow from this experience. You just have to take the steps to communicate to ensure it’s a growing time for both people in the relationship.