How to Talk with Your Romantic Partner about Menopause
Let’s be real – it is tough to go through menopause without the support of your loved ones, including romantic partners. Some of us can feel an urge to deal with it on "on your own," but menopause is not a transition you have to go through by yourself. This means talking to your romantic partner about your symptoms is a big step on the path to feeling better.
Though it can be nerve-wracking to describe your symptoms to someone who may not have much knowledge about menopause in general, giving them an opportunity to support you and connect with you is essential, for the both of you.
When is the best time to have “the talk”?
It's best not to kick off the talk if you are already in conflict with each other, or if you are in the throes of a mood swing or experiencing feelings of rage. It's also not a great idea to begin this delicate conversation when you or your partner have just woken up or are winding down for bed — it might get emotional, so you want to be awake and alert. Avoid times times when you both may be distracted, say, by chores, playing with kids, or watching a soccer game.
How do you know what makes "a good time" to talk? It's helpful if you're both in a good mood and can devote your full attention to each other. You can even decide on the time and place to talk in advance, so that you both treat the conversation seriously.
How to approach the conversation
The best time to talk to your partner about your menopause symptoms and how they're affecting your life is...as soon as possible! It's definitely understandable if you feel shy or uncomfortable as you open up about vaginal dryness or brain fog. But your partner may already be perplexed and worried about you if you're experiencing pronounced symptoms.
And while you may know that all of this is a natural part of life, your partner may be totally in the dark. If this is the case, always keep in mind that menopause is a very natural stage in the life of every woman. Nothing is embarrassing about your body and your symptoms.
It's is up to you to describe what you are going through and how detailed you want to get, but your partner can best give you the support you need if you're honest and don't downplay your symptoms. Explain to your partner that you are indeed the same person you've always been, but that you're experiencing the whipsaw of hormonal change and are working on adjusting to them. If you are suffering from mood swings, tiredness, or irritability, tell them that these behavior changes can come with perimenopause and menopause. You're not necessarily angry with your partner, you're just going through it.
Giving your romantic partner more info about how you feel can actually be very helpful for your relationship. A recent study found that male partners having more knowledge on the topic of menopause can increase the marital satisfaction. Being open and honest also goes a long way for your mutual trust. If you tackle menopause together, as a team, with love, empathy and understanding, it will be much easier to manage for both of you.
Describe your symptoms
Make it clear what symptoms of menopause you have and how severe they are. For many, menopause hormone changes bring a decrease in sex drive. Low libido can also be caused by tiredness, lack of sleep, mental clarity issues, or vaginal discomfort, which are all common in menopausal women.
Without proper explanation, men can feel like their partner has become less interested in being intimate with them because they lack of sexual appeal, or jump to other conclusions. This can lead to misunderstandings, unspoken hurt feelings, and other issues.
Helping your husband come to terms with your menopausal transition can boost your marital satisfaction. And as you grow older, your sexual relationship does not have to suffer – with the right discussions, your relationship can become more profound and more emotional than before.
After the talk, you can speak honestly about adjusting your communication, redefining expectations, find ways to support each other through this challenging time.
A silver lining to all of this is that menopause can present an opportunity to build true empathy and mutual understanding of all the things that can come with midlife, both romantic and physical. Encourage him to talk about how he's feeling, as well. Midlife is tough on men too. If you both have a chance to speak honestly about what you're dealing with, you can tackle your troubles as equals, and as partners.