Have you ever been sitting at a dinner or with a group of friends and all of sudden the topic of conversation takes an uncomfortable turn? The topic is menopause and everyone starts cracking those hot flash or moody jokes, as if those feelings and experiences are funny. No one wants to be the butt of a joke. Making light of phases of life can help us get through the difficult aspects of those situations. But, when the joking is happening between couples, it can be devastating for the woman going through menopause.
At a recent dinner, the jokes started and I said I went through that and it was horrible. It amazed me to see the conversation dynamically change and women started to ask questions about what to expect or relate their own experiences. It was interesting to note, the almost deafening silence of the men in the room. As if the women, had entered a space that was off limits to them.Men need to listen, acknowledge and respond to these conversations. If they dont know what to say then just to say I am not sure what to say, but I am here to listen. During menopause, women are just looking for support and reassurance that their changing bodies are not changing the way people feel about them.
Dealing with Menopause and the Stigma Associated with it.
A woman rarely wants to hear her husband or family poke fun of her challenges with menopause. It is important for loved ones to support and acknowledge the many feelings and physical changes that are happening in a positive and encouraging manner. When menopause happens it impacts not only the woman but the entire family. Mom may be forgetful or short tempered. She may suddenly show a need for positive reinforcement for her self-esteem and body image. Ironically, many men are simultaneously experiencing a midlife crisis (which can be triggered by hormonal imbalance like andropause), which then just lends to more conflict between the couple. Suddenly, the man and the woman are changing and its important to remain consistent, faithful, and kind to each other during this time. This is not the time to say, Oh, mom is going through her changes, she is being nutty. Poking fun at the sudden weight gain and suggesting she lay off the cookies is not what she wants to hear during this time.
A Woman’s Day article notes an increase in divorces after fifty-five because:
They enter their golden years and their husband walks out the door, often for a younger woman. Thats whats happening to an increasing number of women in their fifties and sixties these days. While divorce among younger people seems to be leveling off, theres a worrisome rise in marriage breakups among the over-fifty-five crowd up 22 percent in the last decade and expected to.
Married life is challenging enough with bills, kids, and family. Add midlife bodily changes to the mix and couples are often pitted or bullying each other. Often men will isolate themselves as they are just not sure what to do or say in the midst of their wives rollercoaster or hormones. In most cases, this exactly the opposite of what women want from their husbands. The important thing to remember when going through this time is you’re not alone. If you feel bullied by the jokes made or by the lack of understanding as others try to navigate the great unknown of menopause speak up. You might be surprised by the reaction when you do.