I think it’s beneficial to “get out of our own heads” once in a while and see the world through different eyes. So let’s shift our perspective to look at menopause through the eyes of a man.
You see, sometimes we get so caught up in how we’re feeling that we fail to consider what someone else is seeing. So, let me shed light on your menopause from your man’s perspective.
This reminds me of my dealings with infertility patients. Let me tell you: The most neurotic patients of all are the infertility patients! When a woman wants a baby, she gets desperate. She’ll do anything to get pregnant. She swears that if she gets pregnant, it will be a dream come true and she’ll be happy. So getting pregnant becomes a mission. And she’s out to prove that it isn’t mission impossible.
At first, her husband is all for it. I mean, he sees it as an opportunity to have great sex. But when a woman is on a mission to get pregnant, nothing, I mean nothing else, matters!
So, after explaining all the steps in dealing with infertility, we set out to achieve pregnancy. The woman takes her basal body temperature every day, checks her cervical mucous, documents when she’s ovulating, and tries to have intercourse at the most optimal times. And apparently, while she’s doing all that, she’s talking about all that … and that’s all she’s talking about.
She’s on a mission and wants to share every second of it with her man. Problem is, all that talking about it becomes a problem.
I’ve always advised my infertility patients to just go buy some nice, sexy lingerie, keep their basal body temperature to themselves, and seduce their man at the right time. I say, “Make him feel like King Kong. He doesn’t need to know any details about the getting pregnant part. Just make it all about sex. Men are simple; for him, everything’s about sex.”
But nooooo. That would be too passive. Not only does the woman share every detail about her temperature with him, she skips the lingerie, forgoes the romance, and requires him to perform sexually on demand.
Now, the poor guy just wants to have a lot of crazy sex. He doesn’t want to feel like a life support system for a penis. But he can’t tell her that. She’s already so high strung and determined that she’ll practically shoot him if he so much thinks about not complying with her wishes.
So what does he do? He calls me and says, “Please, just tell her to stop! Tell her to leave me alone. I want a baby, too, but not if this is what it takes to get one!”
He sees infertility differently than she sees it. And he feels the pain of it differently, too.
Likewise, your guy sees the world — and your menopause — differently than you do. And I’m going to do my best with my female psyche to help you peer into the male psyche.
So, you start having hot flashes. Your guy even witnesses one or two. But he thinks, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a little sweat.” He doesn’t feel any of the anxiety or rapid heartbeats that accompany your hot flash. He just sees you get flustered. And he thinks you’re just worried about smudging your makeup.
Later, you have trouble falling asleep, while he’s snoring away beside you. Of course, his snoring makes it even more difficult for you to fall asleep. So maybe you wake him up to tell him you can’t fall asleep because of his snoring. Most likely, he’ll suggest that you have sex to make it easier for you to fall asleep.
And when you finally do fall asleep, you wake up again with night sweats. The bed is soaked, and you can’t believe your husband can sleep through the sweat-soaked sheets. But he’s sleeping soundly and snoring away.
You wake him up again so that you can change the sheets. The first thing he asks is, “So, did you change your mind about having sex?” But then he grumbles as you explain that you need to change the sheets. He assumes you’ve urinated in the bed.
He’s never heard of night sweats. But he sees absolutely no reason to get out of bed to change the sheets. If they’re already soiled, why not just have really messy sex? If you’re not going to have sex, he suggests just sleeping on the dry areas outside the flood zone. He doesn’t view sleeping on urine-soiled sheets as a big deal. Privately, he’s thinking if you’d just had sex like he suggested, you probably wouldn’t have wet the bed. To him, sex is the solution for just about everything.
You both wake up fatigued the next day. Your husband can’t figure out what your problem is.
The day before, your husband asked you to be sure to iron his special shirt for an important meeting. You forgot. The mere thought of being near a hot iron with your hot flashes made you sweat. So he wears a mundane shirt and shakes off the fatigue as he heads to his office without breakfast because you forgot to go to the grocery store, too.
When he comes home from work, you’re sitting in the den, drinking wine, and you’re in a very bad mood. He assumes it’s PMS … although he could swear you just had that a couple of days ago. He almost asks you about it, but reconsiders. The last time he mentioned your sour mood, he had to sleep on the sofa for a week. But with your bed-wetting, maybe the sofa isn’t such a bad idea.
He goes in the bedroom to change his clothes. When he comes back into the den, you’re still sitting there, sipping your wine, and doing nothing else. He realizes you sure have been going through a lot of wine lately. Come to think of it, all you’ve eaten lately is bread, chocolate, and wine.
He wants to ask, “What’s for dinner,” but holds his tongue. He really has to think before every move. No matter what he does, he gets in trouble. He believes you’re going crazy.
Suddenly, he wonders, “Could you be pregnant?” Oh no! That was terrible! All those hormones made you cranky, and you craved weird things during pregnancy.
He looks at you more closely. Not sure of what he’s looking for, he notices that your skin is flaky. And you seem to have more wrinkles around your eyes. Oh, and there’s a big zit on your chin; another on your cheek.
Gosh, he’s never known you to have acne. He wonders if you’re washing your face. He’s no hygiene guru. It’s just that you seem to be letting yourself go lately.
And you’re just no fun to be with anymore. Is this what depression looks like? Maybe that’s it.
You’re gaining weight, haven’t exercised in ages, and don’t seem to care. He hopes you get back into action soon. Out-of-shape women aren’t his thing. Face it: he’s a man. He wants to be with a beautiful woman … You.
You’ve always made him feel sexually satisfied and proud. But lately, you don’t seem to want to have anything to do with him … especially in bed. You used to love sex. Recently you’ve said it hurts. But how can it hurt? It’s never hurt before.
He just doesn’t understand. You’ve done nothing but complain lately … About everything:
- Your body
- Your age
- Your pet peeves
- His need for sex
It’s so many different things. They can’t all be related.
He decides that it must all be in your head.
Realize that this is based on the things your man can see. He can’t feel what you’re feeling. He can’t imagine how you feel. And he really knows nothing about menopause because nobody talks about it. Sure, he’s heard the word, but he’s never heard any details.
Frankly, he’s too frustrated with you to bother with figuring out what’s going on. You’ve been married for 25 years. You have two kids together. Now that the kids are away, he thinks you should be having more fun as a couple, not less.
Instead, your behavior feels like a blow to his ego. He’s worked hard and wants to live it up while the two of you still can. He wonders why are you making life so difficult. He considers going to a bar. Maybe he’ll meet someone ….
Ladies, this is what happens to couples when the man doesn’t understand the effects of menopause on you and your relationship. And in order for him to know what menopause is and how to support you when you’re experiencing it, you have to enlighten him. But you have to do that before it ruins your relationship.
Remember, menopause is a couple’s issue. Just like pregnancy. Don’t force this on him like the infertility patients do. Just prepare him for the normal signs and symptoms of menopause. He’s dealt with PMS, pregnancy, and probably puberty. He can deal with your menopause. He just needs to know what it is he’s dealing with, and what to expect. He loves you.