Grief & Grieving

Post image for Dear Magnolia….My Husband Takes My Loss of Libido in Perimenopause Personally

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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