How to Keep Menopause Mood Swings from Ruining Your Relationships
Personal relationships can be profoundly affected by perimenopause and menopause. It can be problematic for friends, family, and romantic partners to speak about it, especially when they have little to no understanding of what happens during menopause. For many women, the source of their greatest frustrations when interacting with the important people in their lives centers around mood swings. Mood swings are sudden, frustrating, and can often be drastic for many women experiencing menopause.
How can I improve relationships in menopause?
While this may be frustrating for friends and family to deal with, it is especially difficult for menopausal women to manage how their relationships change due to these changes in mood. Women often feel frustrated that their friends, family members, and romantic partners begin to treat them differently as they enter menopause. On the opposite side, the people in their lives may feel unsure of how to change their perception of menopause or the perceptions of the women they love.
Maintaining healthy relationships is vital to helping women ease into the next stages of their menopausal journeys. With that in mind, there are a few ways in which menopausal women can help improve their relationships as they experience some of the more uncomfortable menopausal symptoms in their lives (particularly mood swings).
1) Be willing to learn together
Women ages 45 and older are not the only ones that need to educate themselves on how menopause changes the body. Young men, older men, young women, and kids should do their part to try to understand just how many changes are going to take place during menopause. A basic understanding of how a shift in hormone levels affect the body could help these relationships from degrading. Recognizing that the issue stems from the body and not from affection is the first step in understanding how the women in their lives feel frustrated as they go through menopause. Read up on research studies, talk to doctors about health issues together, make appointments with a therapist if it becomes more of a psychological issue in the relationship. Above all, though, be willing to educate yourself. Remember, knowledge is power.
2) Be honest
For many women, talking openly about the issues they are facing during menopause is extremely difficult, especially when talking to their romantic partners. It can feel awkward and embarrassing to have a conversation about weight gain, sexual discomfort, or the fact that vaginal dryness can become increasingly difficult to manage as an older woman. Above all, it can be difficult expressing feelings of self-doubt, frustration, anger, stress, or even anxiety with your partner because it can come across as disingenuous.
Be honest about how you're feeling. If you know your mood swings are affecting your ability to process certain events, tell your partner. Find ways of coping with these sudden changes together, and if you find yourself lashing out at the people you love, remember to apologize. You may not have as much control over experiencing these emotions as you'd like, but that doesn't mean that you have the right to belittle or offend the people you love. If you make a sincere effort to show them that you're trying to work your way through these symptoms, they will understand, and they will offer their support.
3) Do things to de-stress
When you find yourself under immense stress, it can be difficult to focus on anything from the most complex procedures to the simplest tasks. Rather than fixating on the stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions that your brain immediately wants to focus on, redirect that energy into something else. Find ways to decompress and destress the situation.
For some women, it could be meditation or yoga. For others, it might be a new hobby, like sewing or painting or singing. Encourage your partner to join you in activities that lower stress. Sharing in a positive, peaceful experience could have potential benefits to your relationship. When the atmosphere is calm, the body and mind will soon follow. Partners should spend quality relaxation time together when they both feel they need it most. Do not pressure a partner into joining you. If they make the decision themselves, they are more likely to repeat that kind of behavior in the future.
4) Be sympathetic
It may be difficult for people to be sympathetic towards women going through menopause because they have no frame of reference as to what it's like. The same is true for women who experience menopause; they may not be sympathetic to how it affects the people in their lives either. While it may seem like a mostly personal issue of their own, it can have repercussions on how the people in your life interact with you.
People may begin tailoring their behavior towards you because they don't want to overstep or cross any boundaries. It's important to be reassuring that though you are going through these changes, you still love, respect, and care for the people that matter most to you in your life. Understand that this is just as much of a change for them as it is for you. You are experiencing how it affects both/all of your personal lives together.
5) Take some alone time
No matter how much we may love our friends, families, and partners, sometimes it helps to be alone. Spending time alone is a very healthy thing, especially when trying to process just how many changes you will experience as you go through menopause. Taking time to pick up a new hobby alone or spend time pampering yourself can actually help rejuvenate everyday life. Decompressing on your own time and on your own terms can recenter you. It can help you find ways of expressing how much you appreciate your friends, families, and partners even when they're not around.
Try filling your alone time by doing one of two things: completing fulfilling tasks or taking leisure time. Spa days, painting, bike rides, marathons, whatever you enjoy doing alone; find ways to incorporate that into your routine. It will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on any new challenge that comes your way.
Where can I find more information on relationships in menopause?
If you and your friends/family/partners are looking to gain more insight into how menopause affects interpersonal relationships, skim through these studies to gain a better appreciation for each other as you go through these changes.