Menopause is generally a difficult time for a woman as she struggles to come to terms with the changes in her physical, emotional and social life. But no less baffling may be the position of a husband or a partner who is willing to understand the changes and support his partner but simply does not know how and where to begin. If you are part of the confused lot who seems to think that no matter how hard he tries, he just cannot get it right, here is a brief guide on how to help your wife deal with the onset of menopause. However as you look through the suggestions below, ask your wife for her input since she may have her own set of ideas on how you can help her better.
Understand what it going on
The first step to support your wife with the onset of her menopause is to find out what is going on. Menopause marks the end of the fertile period in a woman’s life and is typically diagnosed twelve months after she ceases menstruating. While symptoms may vary widely among women, some of the most common complaints are hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain and stress. Educate yourself by reading as much as you can find on the subject. You could hit the library and pore over printed material or ask your family doctor about the physiological and emotional processes involved in a female menopause. Once you know about the symptoms and the causes from which they spring, you are better prepared to support your wife as she copes with various aspects of menopause.
Talk to her
You may be puzzled by the mood swings that your wife is going through. But instead of avoiding her as a way of avoiding the problems, talk to your wife. Even if you have never been good at communicating thoughts and feelings, simply telling out loud that you want to help her may go a long way. Find a time of the day when your wife is relaxed and ask if she has a minute to listen to you. Hold her hands and tell her that you want to support her in what she is going through. This will help your wife to feel that you are on her side and she need not feel defensive or lonely about her situation. If you already share good communication with your wife, appreciate the changes she has to cope with and ask her if there is any particular way she would like you to help.
Don’t take it personally
With the onset of menopause, your wife may seem to oscillate between extremes of moods. She may feel angry, sad and impatient one day and healthy, confident and strong the next. Or she may go through an entire spectrum of moods within the same day. Remind yourself that your wife’s mood swings have nothing to do with you but are merely the result of fluctuating levels of hormone in her body. Once your wife realizes that you are not taking the expression of her anxieties personally, she will stop feeling guilty about putting your through a rough time and be quicker in bouncing back to her old self.
Help her get the sleep she needs
Insomnia is a major menopausal symptom and if your wife is suffering from it, do your utmost to ensure that your wife is not disturbed at night. If you snore or have a habit of getting up several times during the night, consider moving to the guest room for the weeknights. This will allow your wife to catch up on her sleep minus the disruptions. If you are a heavy snorer, may be you can get a sleep study and use a CPAP device to decrease your snoring. This will benefit your health too, since sleep apnea can lead to cardiac problems over time.
Help your wife to take care of her health
Menopause is a physiological transition phase and not a disease. Still some women may experience distressing medical conditions during this time like hot flashes, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, fatigue and urinary problems. Help your wife seek medical help if her symptoms begin to affect her normal routine. A healthy diet is imperative during this time as well as for future well-being. Support your wife in this by making sure the whole family takes meals rich in vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, soy and nuts. Avoid bringing junk food into the house which may tempt her to eating something that will aggravate her menopausal symptoms. Nothing is as difficult as sticking to a diet when your partner is munching on a Friday night pizza.
Menopause in a woman brings with the realization that she is no longer young and past her fertile age. This may cause your wife to feel old, unattractive and even dispensable at times. She may even be anxious about your love and fearful of your getting involved with a younger woman. This is the right time to reassure your wife how much she means to you and your family. Tell her that you love her and why. However be careful not to appear patronizing or insincere. Remember she is your wife and will sense it from a mile away when you are faking. Rather look for quiet, mundane moments in your daily life to appreciate her.
Offer to help
If you have done your homework, you would know that menopause may leave a woman feeling drained and overwrought even after a regular day. So look around the house and see how you can lighten the load of domestic chores for your wife. Pick up kids’ toys from the living room or rustle up a dinner and your wife will grateful for your help after coming home from work. Best of all she will know that you mean it when you say you want to support her and that you do it without being asked to.
Encourage her interests
If your wife is feeling frustrated most of the times, ask if she would like to join a book club or take a night class. Pursuing an interest may help her to keep her mind off troubling thoughts and enrich her personality so that she feels good about herself. If your wife has already decided to follow an interest, make it easier for her around the house. Pick up the kids from their soccer practice a few times a week or get grocery supplies from the store so that your wife can pursue her interests without worrying about family commitments.
Take it easy on sex
This is a time when your wife may start to lose interest in sex. Hormonal changes during menopause may lead to loss of libido or a decrease in vaginal lubrication which may make sex uncomfortable or even painful for your wife. If there a mismatch between your sexual needs, it is best to shift the focus on staying physically connected for a while. Take pleasure in intimate activities like taking a bath together or giving each other a massage but be sure that there is no pressure to go all the way. However if the gap between your mutual needs is too wide, it may be best to seek professional help. A sex therapist might be able to suggest ways to give and receive pleasure keeping both your expectations in mind. Or if your wife finds making love particularly uncomfortable, she could ask for remedies from her doctor.
Keep it light
Even though menopause is a complicated phase, you need not let it run your marital life. Use humor to defuse a tensed situation and you may just find your wife join in out of sheer relief. Again help her to feel that there is still an element of fun in your relationship. Take your wife out on surprise dinner dates or send her a lovely bouquet of flowers at work. However don’t make her menopause the butt of jokes. If you start using humor to show your anger or disapproval, you are neither helping your wife nor your relationship.
Keep things in perspective
If your wife is having a particularly difficult time with her menopause, you may feel like walking on eggshells all the time. You never know what may irritate her and make her blow her top. During such times as her partner at the receiving end, you may be sorely tempted to give it back and storm out. But even in the heat of the moment, remind yourself why you have chosen her as your life partner and decided to stick it out together. Look back on all the years that you have spent together and have faith that the best phase of your relationship is yet to come.
Finally allow your wife to take her time in passing through this transitional phase. If you express impatience or demand that “she get on with it”, you will be merely adding on to her distress and doing no favor to your marriage. Rather understand that your wife’s menopausal symptoms may differ from one day to the next but they will not last forever. However if you find yourself unable to cope with it all, it may be best to seek guidance from a counselor.
With the onset of menopause, a woman goes through significant changes both within and without. While her body is struggling to adapt itself to new conditions, her social roles too are changing. In fact after your kids have left and your wife has attained a measure of security in her job, the two of you can look forward to the start of a newer and better phase as a couple. And with some help from each other, it can turn out to be an extremely rewarding period of your married life.