Dear Husbands – Yes You Can! (help your crazy perimenopausal wife)
Posted Sep 28 2009 10:21pm
W ell, kudos to Brian, who bravely stepped out of the shadows of Internet anonymity and and let his voice, the voice of a spouse of a crazy perimenopausal wife be heard. Many men, like Brian, are out there desperately searching for insight and answers to what is, no doubt, a very difficult time for them as well – the ’peri’ part of menopause.
I have already posted one Dear Husband’s post which was intended to provide some general insight for men into perimenopause. But, having learned a little (and let me emphasize little – yea, VERY little) about male hunter-gatherer tendencies, I thought I might post yet again for you, Brian, and your band of not so merry brothers, more specific information along the lines of do’s & don’ts.
Some of it may make you laugh (and that’s a good thing) and some of it hopefully, will give you some concrete direction as you deal with your alien-inhabited perimenopausal wives. Print it out. Laminate it. Tape it to the mirror. Wear it as frontlets on your eyes. Whatever it takes. You may not be able to fix everything, gentlemen, but if you follow these pointers you will be a hero in your wife’s eyes. So, let’s begin, shall we?
Top Ten List of Do’s & Don’ts for Husbands of Crazy Perimenopausal Wives.
1. First – Do no Harm
Yes, gentlemen, think of yourself as a physician. In assuming a more nurturing role toward your wife, not only will you be a healing balm to her in her time of need. But she also might then help you heal thyself from any defensive wounds you may have incurred by ducking and running for cover.
It’s not easy to rise above verbal assaults when they are coming at you with the firing power of a Gatling gun. I know. But if and when you can the results can truly be miraculous. Remember, she is the patient who is ultimately suffering. You are simply in the line of fire as those unrighteous hormones spill out all over the place. Taking the high road with kind and loving words takes a lot of strength and courage. But you may find that you are able diffuse a very volatile situation. Otherise, everyone, including you, just might go down in flames. So, what can it hurt?
2. Make time in the evening to let her talk
Men, I can’t emphasize this enough. Women, by and large, process their stress verbally. They think it through outloud. They go to other women most of the time to vent, to whine, to complain and yes, to bitch, because other women know it’s not about THEM. It’s just the way that we deal with difficulties, stress and pressures. We don’t want a fix-it answer. (believe me, we WILL ask you for one if that’s really what we need) We just want a safe place to unload our emotions.
Think of it as roto-rootoring a clogged up pipe. Once it’s cleared out, everything runs smoothly again. So, ask your wife….”honey, do you want to talk?” And if she says yes, then pour yourself a soda, grab some tea or your favorite beer, sit down and just listen. Let her talk. Tell her periodically that you understand. Offer compassionate commentary on how difficult it must be for her. Trust me. You’ll be amazed at the results.
3. Tell her often how much you love her
One of the things that makes perimenopause so difficult for us is that it’s not just our bodies that are changing. It’s our entire sense of self. Oftentimes, we begin to question if we are still attractive to you. We feel insecure as vital, fertile and yes, sexual bodies, transform into a barren, more squishy version of our former selves.
We are very aware of the tendency of the species to reproduce and that sexual attraction and sexual energy is often the driving force between men and women in the dating world, mating world and the marital world. So, when we look in the mirror and see everything changing,(and usually heading south) it’s pretty darn scary. But, if we know that you love us and will continue to love us as we morph into a bono-fide middle-aged broad, it really does help to quell the hormonal chaos.
And please don’t assume we know you love us because you show up for dinner every night. Tell us. We have short memories – especially with our estrogen issues right now. Short-term memory loss and foggy thinking is common.
4. Take her out to dinner
Okay, maybe you don’t have the budget for this. Or maybe you’re the frugal type and you see dinner out as a waste of precious financial resources. Then offer to cook dinner. If you have older children in the house (and many of us do at this juncture in life) enlist them in cooking dinner for mom once or twice a week.
The idea is to relieve her of a little bit of stress. I know, I know, fixing dinner is NOT that stressful. Agreed. But, when you are swallowed up with the blues or exhausted from swinging back and forth between depression and rages, or nights thrashing around in the bed with insomnia and night sweats; trust me, the last thing you want to do is drag your tired hormonal butt down to the kitchen. Especially if heat is going to be involved. Think of it as a day at the spa – except it’s only costing you a little dinner tab or some time in the evening.
5. Assume a non-judgmental frame of mind
This is going to be hard to believe, I know. But, underneath our bitchy, raging, cast-iron-skillet-throwing persona is a very fragile being. Especially with our hormones short-circuiting all over the place. We don’t feel strong. We don’t feel powerful. We don’t feel in control. We are stressed beyond our ability to verbalize sometimes (and for me , being the verbose woman that I am, that’s huge).
We just can’t bear harsh words, judgment or criticism coming our way. We need, as Dr. Phil often says, ”A soft place to fall”. When we are offended, the natural tendency is to judge and criticize. I know. I’ve done plenty of it myself. But nothing is more damaging than harsh, critical judgment. Especially to an already emotionally tenuous female. If we feel judged by you gentlemen, it’s like a rusted knife penetrating our heart.
Maybe we deserve it. But, that’s the definition of mercy isn’t it? The withholding of merited judgment? It doesn’t help us feel better or bounce back from a rough day of moodiness or hot flashes if you have thrown a few judgmental stones our way. It just hurts and frankly, nobody wins.
6. Take it personally
This is probably THE hardest thing to do guys. I know. But, if you can accomplish this gentleman, you will have whipped half the battle right there. Because it’s really, really, let me say this again, it’s REALLYNOTABOUTYOU. You have not failed and you have not caused this no matter how much we tell you that you have. It was Eve. But, that’s a long story.
7. Become angry because you feel she’s not carry her share of the load these days
You’re right. She’s probably not. But, maybe this could fall under the heading of “for better or for worse” ? If you respond in anger for what you perceive as her failings right now, it only serves to make her feel even more crappy. Which, if you want to gauge things as to how it’s going to affect you personally, well, it just might end up being worse for you too. So, loving arms – yes. Wounded and angry – no.
8. Mention that your mother didn’t have such difficulties with menopause
You know guys, we don’t want to be compared to your mothers. Ever. Not in any form, shape or fashion. Come to think of it, we don’t want to be compared to ANY woman. Not your mother. Not your sister. Not your grandmother. Not your aunt and definitely not the pretty secretary at work who is always in a good mood.
Unless of course, you won’t mind if we tell how much we fantasize of being George Clooney’s next love interest with his millions in the bank and sexy Italian villa on Lake Como. Or that we lust after and dream about Gerard Butler and his band of smoking hot warriors in the movie 300. Or that we’ve noticed the neighbor must be working out lately since he’s been mowing the yard without his shirt on and damn, have you seen those biceps???? (but that’s only if we were )
Mentioning another woman is never a good idea, gentlemen. But it’s especially bad when your wife is pumped up on estrogen and not afraid to use it. Yeah, I know you mean well. But, take my word on this one.
9. Decide to follow the Do-number-4 and take her to Hooter’s.
See Don’t-number-8. And finally, gentlemen, don’t
10. Tell her that she’s crazy.
Yep. I know. You have found your way to this blog by typing in the three words ‘crazy perimenopausal wife’. And furthermore, those search engines pointed you this way because I have posts entitled ‘crazy perimenopausal wives’. So, it’s not YOUR fault she’s nut-so, psycho and just plain crazy - right?
And perhaps maybe you think after all you’ve put up with with the incoherent hormonal babble dribbling out of her mouth, the mood swings, the extra expense you’ve incurred in extra layers of clothing you have to wear because the thermostat stays at sub-zero temperatures year round that you’ve earned the right to call her crazy. Well, okay. Maybe.
But, I’m assuming that you men really are the more rational-problem-solving-beings that you tell us you are. So then I would have to direct you back to Do-number-1.
Calling your wives crazy, husbands, will definately do harm. Yes, she’s acting crazy. Yes, she even says she feels crazy and here I am typing like crazy almost daily about all of the crazy things we’re doing. But that doesn’t make us crazy.
Tell her instead that she’s lovely, beautiful, delightful, fun to be around (okay – that’s probably a stretch) and that you will be there for her through it all. She’ll love you for it. She’ll also tell all her girlfriends what a great husband you are. Then, not only will you have the adoring admiration of your wife once again, but all of her friends will suddenly think you are incredibly hot.