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Dear Husbands of a Crazy Perimenopausal Wife

Posted Sep 23 2009 2:52pm

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W ell, as you can tell from the title I’m sending out a lifeboat to all husbands whose wives are going through perimenopause.

Occasionally I see searches on my blog from husbands looking for help with their wives’s perimenopause.  I’m assuming they are trying to understand what is happening to their wives so they can cope with it.

Every search includes the word “crazy” which I find amusing and telling both at the same time.  Amusing because, well, yeah, that’s exactly how we feel sometimes and telling, because, well, I guess that’s how we appear to our husbands too.

So, I thought I might take a little time this morning and address you men in hopes that these words might be a little enlightening.  If it helps you to become more patient, tolerant and helpful towards your wife, then I will have killed two birds with one stone.  I will have helped you to understand and you will have helped (hopefully) your wife by being tolerant, helpful and supportive.  In the end, she will be greatly appreciative of that, I can assure you.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that most husbands are like mine. He personalized my mood swings. Yes, I definitely let him have it when I was in the middle of the “rage” element of the swing, and by definition I suppose, that would make it personal.  But I always went to great lengths to explain that what was happening to me was not about him.  It was my hormones.  I think he wanted to understand and maybe sometimes he actually did.  But, mostly, he didn’t.  After a while it became equally as stressful to me to keep explaining it to him as the mood swings were.  In fact, it was exhausting.  So, I stopped explaining.  But maybe, like you, he’s reading this today and it will help him too.

Think of it in These Terms

Do you have children?  If so, then you were likely present when your wife went into labor and delivery and watched (or were at least close by) when your child was born.  A joyous moment for all, without a doubt. It is also a wonderful illustration of hormones in action.

I read once (somewhere) that physicians, with all of their medical knowledge, still do not know what exactly triggers labor.  They do know that hormones are involved to some degree, but they cannot pinpoint exactly what causes labor to begin.  They are very clear on what happens after it begins, but what triggers it?  Clueless.

When child labor begins there is no stopping it.  There is no controlling it.  (ask me how I know ) In fact, there is no more stopping it or controlling it than there was stopping and controlling the hormonal changes that caused the facial hair to begin to grow on your body; or changed the register of your voice; or that helped to deeply define your entire masculinity during your own adolescence. Remember those years? Gentlemen?

In fact, as a mother of a son, I distinctly remember how befuddled he would become when his voice would crack …”Where did that come from?” he would ask.  Why?  Because not only could he not control it, but he had no idea when it was going to occurr either!  It just came - out of the blue -  as they say. 

And So……

As you may have already figured out, just as women cannot control labor and delivery during childbirth and you could not control the pubescent changes in your teenage body, neither can we control the mood swings during perimenopause.  In fact, perimenopause is often called the “second adolescence” due to the crazy and wildly unpredictable hormonal shifts.

Yes, I will concede, some of us are better at it in publicly managing it than others.  But even the most contained women have an “H” of a time with perimenopausal mood swings.  It’s an organic, systemic, biological change that we can no more control than the color of our eyes, the size of our foot or the shape of our nose.  We came wired with all of these DNA-defined components and have absolutely no say about it.

But, I can assure you gentleman, that ALL of the women I know, and I mean ALL  of them, if given a choice, would choose NOT to be a depressive/raging psycho woman drunk on estrogen and progesterone.  Yeah, we laugh and joke about it amongst ourselves.  That’s called coping.  Because, frankly, if we couldn’t laugh about it and make fun of it, it would be an even bigger nightmare.

It Gets Even More Complicated

Here’s another element:  As women, we are keenly aware that men, and that would include our husbands, are wired to be visual creatures when it comes to women.  We know that you not only experience us visually, but other women too. We know that you are looking at the shapely brunette in the check-out counter or the striking blonde walking her dog down the street.  We may not say anything.  But, trust me, we know you are looking. On a normal day, on a good day, we can easily accept this with no offense. ( most of the time anyway :)   )

But, when we  enter into perimenopause another huge change begins to occur as well.  Not only is our biology changing, but so is our physical body.  Those of us who have fought to keep weight ON our frames our entire life, are now fighting to keep it OFF!  And mainly around the mid-section.  Yep.  It’s those hormones again.  The estrogen dominance that we experience during this time not only makes us edgy, emotional, irritable and slightly loopy, but it also causes us to pack on extra weight around the middle.  That’s why so many of us, even those of us who have never given birth, begin to lose those nice little curves that used to define something called a “waist”.  Now, we feel more like a tree trunk or a barrel. 

So, in the midst of our mood swings, we’re also trying to come to terms with the facts that our once physically attractive bodies (probably the one that attracted you to us in the first place) are betraying us and we just don’t feel attractive anymore.  To you.  To ourselves.  To anyone.  In short, our entire existence is beginning to get completely redefined.  You might go buy yourself a little red corvette during this time.  We eat chocolate and cry. 

Can You Do Anything?

Yes you can. Listen carefully: 

She’s not doing it on purpose.  It’s not you that she’s mad at it.  Not really.  It’s her body.  Yes, it’s you, but it’s not you.  Not really.  It’s the dog but it’s not the dog.  It’s everything and it’s not everything.  All at the same time.  It’s the universe.  It’s hormones.  Scary hormones. Yeah, crazy.  I know.  And that’s exactly how we feel.  Crazy.

Look, if you are here for understanding, and I think you are, then I applaud you.  I know it’s hard for you.  It’s hard for us too.  Believe me.  But, you have more power than you may think you do.  Your wife could use a big hug during this time.  She could use a few kind words.  She could use a lack of judgment and offense on your part. Even if she doesn’t acknowledge those kind words, the hug and the lack of judgment and offense – give it anyway.  It’s not going unnoticed, no matter what you think.

And remember, no matter what she says, how she says it or how it makes you feel, it’s really, REALLY not about you.  Give yourself and her a break too.  Don’t take it personally.  Just realize that if she had a terminal disease and acted like this, chances are you wouldn’t take it personally.  You would understand, all the way down in one of those “philosophical, spiritual, existential” kinds of way, that she is dying and she’s fighting back. 

We’re not terminal or dying during perimenopause, but it sure feels that way sometimes.  And if you guys could understand that just a wee bit and could offer us your big strong shoulders to cry on, it would help us both out a lot. 

In the meantime, if you have subscribed to my blog, I hope you’ll keep coming back.  I promise I can explain this crazy time so that you can understand and help your wife, if that is your motive.

We need you in our lives or we wouldn’t have married you and when we are going through this very difficult time called perimenopause - we need you even more.  And believe me when I say this.  There is something in it for you – she will think you’re the GREATEST husband ever. I promise.

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