Tips on Supporting Your Partner Through Menopause
By: Bonny Osterhage
The only thing more challenging than going through menopause? Learning how to support someone who is going through menopause. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a menopausal mood swing, then you get it. Yes, menopause can be just as hard on a spouse or partner as it is on the woman experiencing it. So how can you be supportive and help her (and your relationship) weather the storm? The following suggestions can make us feel more supported, and help you keep our sanity.
Keep your cool—and hers. Hot flashes and night sweats are very real. If the woman in your life needs you to turn up the air conditioner, by all means do it—even if it means you wear a sweater in your own home in the middle of summer. The same is true at night. Add another blanket to your side of the bed, and keep your bedroom nice and cool. And speaking of the bedroom….
Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t want sex. The physical changes associated with menopause can make sex uncomfortable and even painful for her. She may also be struggling with psychological issues related to her own sex appeal. Going through menopause can make some women feel “old” or “unattractive.” Be patient, reassure her that she is still sexy and desirable, and don’t make her feel guilty if she’s not in the mood.
Be supportive. Ask questions. Ask her how she’s feeling. Ask her if there’s anything you can do to help. Even if the answer is no, at least she knows you care enough to acknowledge what she’s going through.
Practice patience: We know. Living with the mood swings that often accompany menopause can make you feel like you are living with a ticking time bomb. One minute she’s laughing, the next she’s crying, and the next she’s snapping at you over something trivial. Try not to discount her feelings, or to take them to heart. Instead, take a deep breath, and wait until the storm passes.
Know when to say when. Just because mood swings are common doesn’t give her a free pass to treat you badly. If your partner’s behavior begins to negatively affect you or your relationship, be sure to have an open, honest conversation about your feelings. If that isn’t possible, enlist the help of a couple’s therapist to engage an outside perspective.
Menopause affects every woman differently on both a mental and physical level. Some may sail through it without breaking a night sweat while others may experience everything from severe bouts of depression to weight gain and sexual dysfunction. The important thing to remember is that this too shall pass. A little support goes a long way in helping her, and your relationship come out stronger on the other side.