For Men

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I received this reader comment a few weeks ago, and was so moved by it, that I wanted to feature it in this installment of “Dear Magnolia.”  The reader posted under the pseudonym “Heartbroken.” And perhaps that is why I was so touched by it.  I could hear the sorrow and pain in her words, and it made me very, very sad.

I understand what it is like to be so swallowed up by the symptoms of perimenopause, and needing compassion, understanding, support, and forgiveness from those whom we love.  But, unfortunately, for many women who are married and going through perimenopause, their husbands are simply not always compassionate, understanding, supportive, or forgiving.

And what’s worse, some men even have the absurd notion that women should  be able to control hormone imbalance and the symptoms associated with it.  Yeah.  Sure. As if we are getting up every day and making a deliberate decision to have mood swings, insomnia, bloating, erratic menstrual cycles, heart palpitations, vertigo, hot flashes and night sweats.

Please.

For “Heartbroken,” her husband has decided that her loss of libido during perimenopause has nothing to do with her changing hormone balance.  But, rather because she simply hates him and does not find him attractive anymore. Never mind, that “Heartbroken” is coping with depression, brain fog, hot flashes (and likely insomnia), and thinning vaginal walls which lead to extraordinarily painful sex.

The only thing that really matters here, is that “Heartbroken’s” husband feels hated and unloved because she won’t (can’t) have sex with him.  She also wants to know what she could possibly say to him to help him understand that she is not choosing to go through perimenopause and suffer with a loss of libido.

I don’t know that I can give “Heartbroken” the perfect piece of advice which will get through to her husband.  But, I’ll try.

Heartbroken

Dear Magnolia,

I am only in my early 40’s, but I’ve been having symptoms for a few years that have gradually worsened. I have completely lost my sex drive at this point. I have the painful, thinning vaginal walls, along with hot flashes, night sweats, horrible brain fog and depression.

My marriage was already on the rocks, but now it looks like the end.

My husband’s sex drive has actually increased. He tosses and turns every night and huffs and puffs in anger at me. I don’t think he believes that I’m having these issues. He says things like I hate him and he’s unattractive.

I hate bedtime. The way he acts has pushed me away emotionally too. In my mind, sex and love go hand in hand and I feel completely unloved and like a worthless annoyance.

What could I possibly say to him to make him understand? I don’t know how to make him listen. I wish so much that he could be my friend for a little while. I hate the way I feel.

Magnolia

Dear Heartbroken, 

Your comment really touched me.  I could hear the sorrow, sadness, and hopelessness in your words.  And as woman who has been through perimenopause, and who also remembers distinctly how powerless and overwhelmingly sad I felt at not being able to control what was happening in my body – I feel tremendous compassion for you. 

But you state something in your comment which I think is very significant, and is likely the entire crux of your problem. 

You said, “My marriage was already on the rocks……..”

I have stated countless times over the years, that perimenopause does not make a good marriage bad. Neither does it create marital problems where none existed before. It will, however, shine a very bright light on any that have. That is because, like many health issues, perimenopause can put an enormous strain on personal relationships. 

While you’re not sick with, say, a brain tumor or cancer, and haven’t experienced a debilitating stroke which might radically alter your behavior beyond your control.  You ARE coping with hormonal imbalance which is ALSO out of your control.  And it not only affects us physically, but it also affects us psychologically and emotionally as well. 

If a marriage was already rocky or faltering under the strain of years of unresolved issues, bad communication, or toxic and dysfunctional ways of relating to each other, then you can be certain that the weight of hormone imbalance during perimenopause will put an even greater strain on the marriage.

Any issues which you may have struggled with in the past, will invariably rise to the surface.  If you have been unable to effectively communicate with your husband, you can be certain, you will not be able to communicate with him now.  

If he has behaved in the past as a petulant child who “huffs and puffs with anger” when he doesn’t get what he wants.  Then, his current petulant, childish behavior doesn’t sound extraordinary at all.  From what you have told me, I suspect he has always been manipulative and childish as a way to make you feel guilty and therefore, responsible for his behavior and state of being. 

I do not wish to increase your sadness by suggesting there is no hope in being able to reach your husband, so that he understands you are not choosing to have a loss of libido, and that you are also not choosing depression, hot flashes, night sweats, and brain fog.  

But, the reality is, if your husband has not been inclined to care how you feel heretofore, then it is highly unlikely that there is a way for you to communicate to him so that he does now. However, I do not wish to leave you feeling more sad and hopeless. 

I do not know if your marriage can be helped with marital counseling.  But, I would strongly recommend, even if only for your sake, that you seek outside counsel from someone who can be supportive and help you realize that your husband’s behavior is not your responsibility. Neither is it the result of a lack of love, caring, concern for him, or a moral failing on your part as a wife. 

I know first hand, what it is like to feel worthless and unloved in a marriage.  I also know first hand, how deep that it can cut into your heart and your soul. Those closest to us – our parents, other family members, spouses – can hurt us like no other.  When we feel the sting of their contempt and rejection, it can be devastating. 

So I would strongly recommend that you seek the counsel of a compassionate therapist who, at the very least, can help you work through your emotions without the heavy weight of judgment and contempt heaped upon you.  

I sincerely hope you are able to work through the issues with your husband. However, if you are not, please do not allow yourself to feel worthless or responsible for his behavior. 

I wish you only my warmest regards.  And thank you for reading my blog,

Magnolia

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A Brief Comment on Comments

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If you are a woman coming to this blog, chances are pretty much 100% any comment you leave will be posted once you are past the initial moderation phase. If you are a first time commenter, your comment will always go into the moderation queue for me to approve it before it gets posted. If […]

February 15, 2015 CONTINUE READING →

Dear Magnolia……Not Every Woman Hates Their Husband in Perimenopause

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Today’s “Dear Magnolia” post is featuring a comment by a reader named Julie.  Julie left her comment in response to the post “Why Do Women Hate Their Husbands in Perimenopause: A Wife’s Perspective”  A post which featured another reader’s story where she explained why she decided to leave her marriage once she had started going […]

August 30, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Andropause: Treating Male Hormone Imbalance Naturally

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Today’s post is a guest post by Dr. Andre Berger, founder of Rejuvalife Vitality Institute in Beverly Hills, CA.  Dr Berger’s full bio can be found at the end of the post Male menopause is a term that doesn’t correctly describe the change of life men go through. Men don’t menstruate, so how can they stop having periods, […]

June 13, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

I’m Done. Really.

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Don’t worry. I’m not done with blogging.   I’m here for the duration. I’m done with men – not all of them, mind you. Just many of them which come to my blog. Let me explain: As many of you know, I started a new series a few weeks ago to focus on the book The […]

June 5, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Menopause, Marriage & the Male Brain: The Teen Brain

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According to Dr. Louann Brizendine, if testosterone were beer, a 9-year old boy would get the equivalent of 1 cup a day. For teenage boys, however, the testosterone that washes over their body by the age of 15, would be equal to two gallons.   Yes, you read that right.  Two gallons of beer testosterone per day, […]

May 12, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Menopause, Marriage & The Male Brain: More on the Boy Brain

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We left off in my last post on this series discussing attributes of boys during the pre-pubescent years, when their hormones (particularly testosterone and MIS: Müllerian inhibiting substance) are making neural pathways in their brain which “hardwire” male specific behavior and tendencies. While it is certainly true that the surge of testosterone during puberty – […]

March 28, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Menopause, Marriage & The Male Brain: The Boy Brain

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For the sake of those who might just now be joining this series or reading this blog, let me state again the purpose and reason for this series. I receive a fair amount of traffic and communication from men who are looking for help in understanding perimenopause, how it affects their spouse/partner, and the impact […]

March 21, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Menopause, Marriage & The Male Brain: What Makes a Man?

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I said in my first post in this series that we would begin with chapter one of The Male Brain. However, I’ve since decided to begin with the Introduction with an important note which will lay the foundation for this entire series. Dr. Brizendine, while very feminist in her point of view, is not a man-basher. In […]

March 20, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

Menopause, Marriage, & The Male Brain

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Dr. Louann Brizendine is a doctor of psychiatry and neurobiology.  She is the founder and director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic in San Francisco, California. She is also the author of the books The Female Brain and The Male Brain.   I have referenced  The Female Brain  here many times, because in my opinion, it is one […]

March 5, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

The Female Brain The Male Brain: More on Perimenopause & Marriage

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Not surprisingly, the subject of perimenopause and marriage continues to be an evergreen topic here at The Perimenopause Blog. It is very evident to me this is a very serious and important topic which is not be being adequately addressed by much of anyone in any professional field. I wish I could say I had […]

January 24, 2014 CONTINUE READING →

How Can I Help My Wife in Perimenopause? A Conversation with a Reader Part II

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Part II of my conversation with Andy which was originally posted in 2010.   ******** Gentlemen, I sincerely hope you are finding the conversation between Andy and me helpful. As I read back through it I couldn’t help but notice once again, a tendency men have when it comes to menopause.  It is not something […]

December 23, 2013 CONTINUE READING →

How Can I Help My Wife in Perimenopause? A Conversation With a Reader – Part I

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This post was originally written in 2010.  Given that it is a perennial topic, I thought I would repost it again while I’m on a posting hiatus for the holiday season.  I plan to launch a new series for men in 2014.  Until then, perhaps these old posts can generate some some conversation ******** A […]

December 20, 2013 CONTINUE READING →

More on “Misogynist John” and Women’s Health

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Ever since I received the comment from “John”, who I now affectionately refer to as “the raging misogynist,” I’ve spent a fair amount of time (perhaps even too much time), thinking about men like him, who believe that women’s issues, whatever they may be, constitute “feminist bull.” I’m well aware that true misogynists like John […]

August 12, 2013 CONTINUE READING →

Dear John(s)…….

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I’ve made a new decision regarding my comment policy. Going forward, raging, angry comments by men, against me or women in general, over what they have read here, will no longer be allowed.  They not only won’t even make it past the moderation process, but they will get blocked and banned with no questions asked. […]

August 8, 2013 CONTINUE READING →

Why Do Wives Hate Husbands in Perimenopause? A Wife’s Perspective Part II

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The subject of perimenopause and marriage has been a hot one here at The Perimenopause Blog. Until recently, I have given men the floor, so to speak, by posting conversations I’ve had with a couple of men in hopes the dialogue would be useful and helpful for others. A couple of weeks ago I decided […]

July 23, 2012 CONTINUE READING →

Why do women hate their husbands in perimenopause? A wife’s perspective…..

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I thought I might do something a little different in this post series, by featuring a couple of comments from a woman (with her permission) who identified herself as SAH. SAH is in her late thirties, is married with two young children, and beginning to enter perimenopause.  Her comments are a  perfect illustration of the […]

July 8, 2012 CONTINUE READING →

If you want to help your wife in perimenopause……you can start by listening

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I can’t begin to put into words how much the topic of perimenopause and marriage is beginning to frustrate me. There is no one out there tackling this subject who is more earnest than I am in their efforts to help men understand perimenopause, I can assure you. Yet sometimes it feels like I am […]

July 3, 2012 CONTINUE READING →

What “Not” to do if You Want to Help Your Wife in Perimenopause Part II

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It was bound to happen. Since my last post, I’ve been semi-holding my breath waiting for it.  Then right on cue, it came rolling into my inbox: An angry male on a mission to straighten me out. As a general policy, I don’t delete comments readers leave here.  Even if they are hostile and angry.  […]

May 28, 2012 CONTINUE READING →