How Can I Help My Wife in Perimenopause? It’s Her Perimenopause – Not Yours

by Magnolia on January 2, 2011

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I spent a little time reading an online forum last night.  Specifically, a thread that had been posted entitled: “My Wife is in Perimenopause. What’s a faithful husband to do?”

The man who posted the question was feeling the pressure of his wife’s loss of libido. He felt as a married man he was entitled to sex and that his wife was depriving him, “unfairly” of his due benevolence.

The question and the answers that he received were incredibly enlightening to say the least.  They were also very disheartening if I can be honest.

Mainly because, as I read through the thread, which, by the way, was predominately men giving him advice, I saw what I tend to see here at The Perimenopause Blog. That is, most men, the average male, tends to see most things as it relates to “them”.

There were a few women who posted on the thread in efforts to help the desperate husband understand that what was happening to his wife was in fact, happening to his wife – not him.

Unfortunately, that little piece of information seemed to fall on deaf ears.  While there were a few notable exceptions of selfless compassion, the majority of the voices on the thread were about “me first”.  “I deserve this”.  “I have my needs” and my favorite…..”cut your losses and run, buddy.”

Before I go any further with this post, let me disclose that I received a comment this morning from one beleaguered husband which was, um, shall, I say, bitter.  He was angry because of the treatment he had been receiving from his perimenopausal wife and felt justified in his rage.

To which I say: I hear you.

I say that, because I know for a fact that I’ve gone completely and totally crazy during the worst of my perimenopause.  In fact, it has been my own “crazy” that inspired me to launch this blog in the first place.  I think perimenopause is a serious issue that affects entire families, marriages and relationships.

But, so does cancer.

I’m having a tough time understanding why some men cannot or perhaps will not offer unconditional love and support to their wives during perimenopause?

Would you talk about what “you were going through” if your wife had terminal cancer? Would you feel deprived of sex or due benevolence if she had a brain tumor and lay dying? Would you?

Yet, if a woman is imprisoned by her hormones, and gentlemen, her hormones have taken HER captive, it’s as if most men feel we are choosing it.  Like we’re getting up everyday and making a conscious effort to have raging mood swings, crashing fatigue, debilitating depression and anxiety attacks.

Are you kidding me?

I don’t know how much more clear I can be.  I don’t know how many times I can say it before it is heard and actually understood: perimenopause is about HER.  SHE is the one who is losing her fertility.  SHE is the one who is having flooding, gushing, periods complete with blood clots the size of soft balls.

SHE is the one who is gaining weight. SHE is the one who is falling into hormonally induced depression.  SHE is the one who is at risk for osteoporosis because of the shift in her hormonal balance.  And finally, SHE is the one who has lost her libido and any semblance of vaginal lubrication to aid the process.

Translation:  It hurts a lot of women to have sex when there is no lubrication and she has no physical desire. So, while it might be good for you, it definitely is not good for her.

The last time I checked, sex is supposed to be about the mutual satisfaction of TWO people. If not, there is another word for it.

And finally, gentleman, let me say this one more time: Perimenopause is not nor will it ever be about YOU.

Rant over.

Magnolia

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

T February 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I sit and read your blog with tears flowing from my eyes. I have been perimenopausal for about two years now. Critically anemic from loss of blood, sitting on the toilet for an hour as clots the size of fist dropped out of me, multiple fibroids, depression, anxiety and loss of emotion. One cycle lasted over 2 months with heavy bleeding for 2 weeks straight! I feel like a different person than the me everyone including myself know and love.

I really thought I was alone in being accused of not loving my husband enough due to lack of interest in sex. I have been called a hoe because he accused me of cheating on him, because nobody can survive a sexless life. He told he would not live in a sexless marriage. I began turning my email notification tone down on my cell phone due to being accused of getting “booty calls” when spam came through. Booty calls? What the hell is that?! When I tried to explain the symptoms of being perimenopausal I started off with “even if Denzel Washington walked into the room, there would be no interest because I am experiencing… ” However before I could finish I was told to f….k Denzel Washington and me. Maybe I should have left DW out of it, although it probably would not have made a difference.

I work in a high pressure job and have been unable to stay focused for the past year. There have been a few turn over’s that have directly affected my position. I have not met goals and am unable to stay motivated. My doctor prescribed anxiety pills and estrogen which put me in zombie mode causing me to go the wrong direction on a street leading to a busy intersection. One I travel everyday! I stopped taking them. I see a therapist every two weeks. Few ppl know.

My husband does not work a steady job, nor provide insurance for our family with kids. My job provides income and insurance and stability; however I was told it was worthless and accused of being places other than work. I live with a family member now with one of our children. Two attend college away in other counties. I fear losing my job and sometimes my sanity. I feel like a shell of the vibrant person I used to be…never to return. I hide my pain from the outside world, only those closest to me know my trials. ….but not all of my pain. I have to stay strong and smile often for my youngest child. I am heartbroken. Thanks for listening.

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Magnolia February 16, 2011 at 9:12 am

Tmaria,

I’m very sorry for the stress and pressure you are under. High pressure work environments only exacerbate perimenopause symptoms. I’m also very sorry that your husband is so insensitive and uncaring. It’s rather shocking how selfish some men can be when it comes to what their wives are experiencing. I’m very, very sorry. I know that hurts so deeply when all you want is for someone to care how you feel and to comfort you in some way.

I hear ya on the libido. but, it might make you feel better to know that it will return. *If* you want it to. Some women use bioidentical testosterone which helps immensely with their sex life. However, if your husband is berating you and showing no sensitivity to what you are experiencing, I can’t imagine that you want to have sex with him anyway. Just sayin’ :)

Have you tried a bioidentical progesterone for your heavy periods? Heavy, flooding, gushing periods with blood clots is not a low estrogen problem. It’s a HIGH estrogen problem. So, if you use a progesterone (bioidentical) you will see a HUGE difference in that problem.

I had a similar problem. when I started using bioidentical progesterone, my periods STOPPED. In the past 12 months, I’ve had two VERY LIGHT cycles. But, the flooding, gushing, clotting periods went away.

I would highly recommend it.

If you are anemic, you need to get iron into your diet. Preferrably from food sources, but, take a supplement if you must. It will help you feel better.

I’m glad to hear you are living somewhere else. You do not need to be emotionally abused on top of what you are going through with your body. And yes, be strong for your children. However, you are very welcome to come here anytime and dump your hormonal misery.

This is a no-judgment zone.

Magnolia

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T February 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Hi Magnolia,

Thanks for responding. I actually meant to say I was taking progesterone but had to stop due to the side effects. Regarding the libido: no I did not want to be intimate with my husband during that time, nor did I have experience dryness. Now I’m not sure if it was due to hormones or him!

My 2 1/2 month period finally stopped around January 6th, three days after I moved out of the house, and has not returned. I am hoping like yours it will return very light or not at all.

My blood level has increased to an amazing 12 from 7, again after I moved. I believe the stress on top of menopause aggravated everything!!! Although it seems my body is recovering nicely, my emotional and mental state seem to be doing the opposite. I think it will improve once I get my hormones in check. I need to create a new reality for myself as my husband and I have been together for 34 years, 25 of those married. High school sweethearts.

Thank you for allowing me to dump my hormonal misery!

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Magnolia February 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Hello T,

I hear you, girl. A new reality is definitely a need. I hope you will do really nice things for yourself. The biggest thing, be kind and gentle to yourself. Be forgiving to yourself. Be the friend to yourself you’ve wanted but didn’t think you could have.

I determined not too long ago that I was going to give myself everything that others couldn’t or wouldn’t. It was a new day in my life when I realize how much power I had to elevate my life by just elevating my view of myself and my expectations for my life.

It takes a lot of work. Especially if you have learned to live in a lower place and accept less for yourself. As women, I think we tend to do that…..compromise our own good for the betterment of others. Unfortunately, we get taken for granted and then sometimes we begin to think that we don’t deserve much better anyway.

That’s such a lie from hell.

I wish you well. You are always welcome to come here and dump your hormonal misery.

Magnolia

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Sheryl April 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

I’ve copied and pasted a link to your blog for my husband, who packed his bags to leave me this morning over the lack of sex he feels he is entitled to. He also said to me that he wouldn’t “live in a sexless marriage”. Never mind that the last time we tried was so incredibly painful that I was in tears. I said the very same thing to him that you wrote in this blog….would he be so cold and heartless to leave me if I had cancer, back surgery, or was in a full body cast? Didn’t we promise for better AND for worse? What if I walked out on him when his prostate, inevitably, becomes enlarged? What if he looses all his hair am I justified in leaving then? Afterall, he had a full head of hair when we married. I had a uterine ablation done in 2008 to stop the monthly monthly hemorraging. I’ve been having hot flashes for almost 2 years now. I have an appt in 1 week with my OBGYN to get my hormone levels checked and try to fix this “hormone prision” I am living in…But I’m so angry right now that IMO, if he leaves me over this, then he doesn’t deserve to have me as his wife and he was never emotionally invested in the first place..

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Magnolia April 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

Hi Sheryl,

Holy smokes. I am so sorry. It’s very shocking to me that some men can be so insensitive, selfish and unkind. They say that crisis and difficult times tend to reveal the real character of a person. Since I’ve been blogging about perimenopause, I’ve had my eyes opened to the selfish insensitivity that perimenopause tends to reveal in some men.

I hope something I’ve written might help your husband realize the error of his thinking. But, unfortunately, I’ve found that some men just don’t want to think differently about anything. It’s much easier to blame and point fingers than it is to think about someone else.

I realize that sexual needs are important to men. But, they are important to us too. It just seems so crazy though to build an entire relationship on sex. I shudder to think what would happen if your husband began to experience ED for some reason.

If I can help with anything, please feel free to ask.

Magnolia

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bud April 23, 2011 at 3:04 am

If you avoid intimacy with your husband, don’t you think he will look for intimacy elsewhere? Sex is the glue that binds a marriage together, and to understand this would do wonders for reducing divorce rates – a good thing surely? Women cannot treat their husbands like vermin and expect there to be no consequences.

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Magnolia April 23, 2011 at 8:27 am

Hello Bud,

While I agree that sex is a very vital and integral part of a marriage, I disagree that it is the “glue” that holds it together. Love, companionship, and unwavering commitment until “death do us part” are the glue that holds a marriage together.

Otherwise, issues that affect sex like perimenopause, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, ovarian and uterine cancer, terminal heart disease, dementia, Alzheimers or attitudes like, “Gee, I just don’t feel like doing this anymore” would destroy it. Get my drift?

Sex is not just an outlet for the physical release of men. It is a deeply intimate, emotional, spiritual and yes, physical experience for BOTH people.

However, to say that if you do not get it in the manner and on the time table that you deserve that you now have the right to go “elsewhere”, then I would suggest that you need to re-evaluate what marriage really means to you.

There are many reasons that the sexual relationship is affected and when it is, couples need to work through those things together. If they want their marriage to survive and thrive.

But, if the only reason you married your wife is for sex, why did you get married at all? Couldn’t you have gotten as much sex as you wanted without all of the other “hassles” of married life by simply remaining single?

If all I wanted out of a relationship was sex, I’ll be darned if I would get married. It is so much easier to stay single. Wouldn’t you agree?

Not to mention, the smorgasbord of partners one could avail themselves of. Free, unencumbered sex any place, any time with any one? Sounds pretty darn good to me too, frankly.

Just as a side note, Bud, my parents have been married for 55 years. In those 55 years, they’ve had 4 kids and weathered some of the most difficult storms of life you can imagine. Not the least of which was the death of one of my sisters, years of unemployment and abject poverty and my father’s raging alcoholism.

About 25 years ago, when my mother went through menopause, she suffered from vaginal bleeding every time they tried to have sex. It was so painful for her she could hardly walk after they did. She talked openly about it, as did my father.

I do not know what they did to remedy their situation at that time, but I do know my father didn’t march off, away from the marriage because the “glue” had been broken.

About 15 years ago, my father suffered from 2 debilitating strokes. He couldn’t have sex if he wanted to. He was only 60 at the time. And listen, at 54 I still very much want sex, so, I’m certain at 60, he probably did too. However, they couldn’t. A few years before THAT, when he was in his 50s, he began to suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Something tells me he and my mother weren’t exactly having raucous sex during that time either. She didn’t walk away from the marriage, Bud. In fact, my mother has been at my father’s side caring for him because he can’t care for himself.

She baths him, feeds him, cleans up after him and helps him down the hall into the bed every night because without her he would fall on flat on his ass and probably break a hip or something.

Bud, if I can do anything for you to help you understand what happens to women when they go through perimenopause, please feel free to ask.

Magnolia

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ChrisO November 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hello, I suspect my wife may be experiencing the beginnings of thie perimenopause, in fact, I cant be certain she hasnt been experiencing it for quite some time now. I’ve made some aweful mistakes in the way I’ve treated her over the years, many of which I recognise, feel terrible about, and am working hard to atone for… and likely many that I somehow managed to delude myself about to the extent I cant see them, but it seems like every few days she is letting me know about them nowadays, so maybe I’ll find them all out eventually and (I pray) have the strength and resolve to somehow make them right to her over time. I love her very much.

So, I admit I’ve been demanding in my requests for sex, but not over the top really, but what converns me most is coping with her stretches of coldness towards me and our teenage daughter. I’ve not been able to understand how she could so completely turn off to me, and especially to our daughter, but from what I read here it seems I’m not the only one to experience this, and it sort of makes sense when I consider what few things I have been observent of… like the excessive cramping and discomfort she experiences, and the heavy flows… and, regardless of weather or not she is in the throes of perimenopause or not, I see plenty of room for improvement as the loving, caring, and supportive husband and spouse I’ve always wanted to be for her so in some respects I guess it doesnt matter what she may or may not be experiencing, I’ve got some work to do to make up for those times.

All that being said… and considering I’m a dolt and may be missing the most basic of points here, can some of you please share with me what kinds of things I can best focus on to help her through this and to be by her side still when she gets beyond it? I mean, I know I’m not going to cheat on her or anything like that, and I think I can keep from firing back at her angrily when she starts in on her cold and (seeming to me anyway) viscious diatrabes, and I believe I can respect her feelings when I ask for sex and she’s not up for it… what can I do to be there for her, and what can I do to dampen somwhat the blows of her anger when it arises? Thanks for what I’ve already discovered on this blog, thanks in advance for any ideas you are willing to share with me on this topic. Chris

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Magnolia November 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Chris,

I’m glad you found your way to my blog and I’m glad you’ve found something useful here. That has been my mission. First, I would like to point out that your attitude and willingness to take responsibility for things you know you have done to harm the marriage and perhaps hurt your wife is commendable.

No matter what the circumstances, perimenopause or not, whenever we hit patches in life where we struggle in our relationships, it is important that we own our responsibility in the situation. So, if you are sincere and genuinely willing to take personal responsibility, without rationalizing and looking for justification for your behavior, you are WAY AHEAD of most men who find themselves in your situation.

First, can I ask you if you’ve approached your wife to ask HER what you can do? If so, what has she said? As a woman, I might be able to help you “decode” her woman speak. I know that men and women think entirely different and we communicate entirely different. So, if I can offer any insight there, I would be glad to help you try to see things from her angle.

And sometimes, that is all it takes to help another person. Getting outside of “our” experience and point of view, and trying to get inside theirs. In marriage, we all come into it with expectations from our spouse. We want and need certain things from them and we expect them to deliver. When they do not, well, you know the rest.

Some of what your wife is experiencing cannot be rationally explained. It is biology. When her hormones shift, they rocket her into emotional mood swings that can take her from deep, dark depression to raging, eye-bulging, screaming rants. And yes, they can render her cold as ice as well.

I remember after the birth of my third child. I was nearly 43 years old. I also began to enter perimenopause just after her birth. I experienced a debilitating post-partum depression. Then I swung into times where I would lie in the bed, hearing that child crying (she was only a few weeks old) and HATING HER.

Did I hate my child? Of course not. But, the hormonal upheaval just made me despise her. Every cry that came out of her mouth made me want to take her and throw her down the stairs. It makes me shudder to think that I felt that way. But, I did. It was ALL HORMONES.

Once that time passed, so did my “feelings”. She is now 12 years old and the absolute delight and life of my life. She just can’t do anything to make me angry or not love her. I adore that child.

I know it’s difficult to process that body chemistry can do that to a person. But, you know, it’s your body chemistry that drives your sexual desire toward your wife. Remove your testosterone, dear sir, and your desire will fall flat as a pancake. I promise you.

As a sidebar, I currently receive testosterone pellets to help with my menopause symptoms. One of the side-effects? A raging libido.

I have not had that in many years thanks to menopause. As a younger woman, all the way up until I hit about 45, I had no issues with libido. None. But, I completely lost it once I transitioned into menopause. I got the testosterone to help with my arthritis and fibromyalgia (it is a natural anti-inflammatory among other things). I got relief from my pain and I also got a revved up sex drive.

Since everything is still at adequate levels for you in terms of your testosterone, this concept is probably foreign to you. but, I assure you, if your testosterone levels change, you WILL feel the difference.

If you can present to me some specific things your wife is saying to you, I think I might be able to provide some insight and explanation. Us gals are wired pretty much the same way in terms of how we communicate and what we are looking for when we do. I can’t give you absolutes, but I can certainly give you some general truths you can take to the bank.

So, if you could let me know that, I’ll do what I can.

Outside of that, I want to reiterate that you are really already on a very good path to getting through this. You are being humble and willing to take responsibility for a few things. As long as you continue down that road, you up your chances of getting through this.

And finally, remember, her perimenopause is happening to HER. You are the collateral damage. :) It’s unfortunate and I’m not saying it’s fair. But, just like every other experience we go through with our loved ones, it does affect us all.

My father is dying from lung cancer as I type this. His death is brutal and he is angry, bitter and lashing out at life. Which means, he is lashing out at my mother and my sisters. HE is the one with lung cancer. HE is the one dying. But, he’s slinging his pain and death all over the rest of us too.

It’s difficult and it hurts everyone. But, at the end of the day, it’s not US who is dying. So, we endure.

Magnolia

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jim November 20, 2011 at 8:31 am

I am surprised at your comment “I’m having a tough time understanding why some men cannot or perhaps will not offer unconditional love and support to their wives during perimenopause?” In all the other examples you provided (cancer, brain tumor, etc) that is a tangible, understandable health issue. This peri menopausal, comes out of no where, creates conflict, and then drives our wives to attack us personally, in fits of rage, and ? the base of all we are and reasons for marriage. Cancer doesn’t do this. So when you are being verbally attacked, it’s not very easy to ignor the personal berating, and punitive degrading and hold her hand, when she is screaming at you in a fit of rage, telling you, that you are a selfish asshole, and she wants out. How in the world do you have a tough time understanding that??? Having said that, your article helped me see it is something taking over her, and I will try to see it as emotional-althiemers as you suggest. Just needed to vent. I know it’s much tougher on my wife, but being personally attacked, is the hardest thing for me to go through, and your comment made me very angry, of how can men not just see get over it and accept being kicked in the face and put down in the dirt, really? But I do love her more than anything, and will adapt to be there for her, no matter what. for better or worse, and she is the reason for my happiness and wonderful life. thanks for letting me vent against your view.

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Magnolia November 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

Hello Jim,

I’m happy to provide a place for you to vent. You are welcome to come here at any time and unload to your heart’s content. As you have experienced, relationships and crises that we go through as families do not occur in a vacuum. Everyone is impacted one way or another.

I was married to an alcoholic who regularly told me that he didn’t understand what my problem was with his drinking. Afterall, HE was the one drinking. Not me. He eventually died. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, his drinking DID affect me and our children. So, yes, you are correct. It IS difficult for you.

I don’t think I’ve ever dismissed that fact. If you look around my blog you will see where I have noted often that I do not think it is fair, just, right or easy for men to deal with women when they are going through this. And I don’t. It is difficult.

I have raised two teenagers. Biologically, what happens in adolescence is not much different than what happens in perimenopause. It is a MAJOR hormonal shift. Ever dealt with a hormonal teen? If you have, then you know it is very similar.

Finally, I’m writing this response back to you about 8 hours after my mother phoned to tell me that my father died last night. He was diagnosed with end stage lung cancer one week ago. He came home in hospice care and for the past week, my mother cared for his every need.

She was also the whipping post for my father as he clawed his way through the pain and the death that eventually overtook his body. He cussed at my mother, called her names, screamed at her and said the most god awful things that I won’t reprint here.

It was devastating to my mother who was just there to care for him. Look, perimenopause is not death. At least, not in the way that my father just passed through. But, it IS a death of our fertility and a life that we will no longer have. It is a permanent transition into a time of life that not only completely transforms our physical body, but brings home the truth that are now in the second half of life……if we are so fortunately to live a couple of more decades or so.

Your wife, no woman is CHOOSING to be a hormonal, raving, lunatic. I know it’s awful what comes out of our mouths when we are in the throes of a mood swing. I’ve said horrible things too.

But, I am telling you, we are NOT choosing it.

What my father said to my mother was enough for my mother to throw the kitchen sink at him. It hurt her. It made her cry. It made her weary and tired. But, she knew she wasn’t dealing with my father. She was dealing with death.

I say the same about your wife. You are not dealing with your wife. You are dealing with perimenopause.

Please forgive me for being melodramatic this morning. Perhaps my example of my father’s death is not a fair one. But, since it is fresh, it is affecting my point of view this morning.

If I can do anything for you, offer any more information or insight, please let me know. I’ll do my best to explain this. At least you know you won’t get called an asshole from me.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 13, 2011 at 4:04 am

You are so kind, thank you. I’m sorry for your loss of your father, it makes me feel pretty humble to realize you are still willing to take time for me when I’m sure you have your own burdens there and they seem to me, much greater than mine.

My wife had post partum depression following the birth of our son 7 years ago.. in fact, she had a near death experience preceding that with a freak case of post partum eclampsia. My daughter and I took turns holding and feeding her newly born brother for 5 days watching Mom stare down death in a near coma with 200 plus deg temp and bp of 210/140. Shes struggled to keep her blood pressure under control ever since and has had ongoing issues with her thyroid as well.

Probably the greatest challenge I find right now, is how to deal with the rages and respond to the contradictions… its almost like when she gets to feeling whatever it is that she feels a the start of one of these spell (and the kids and I can all tell when its about to come, we’re walking on eggshells for usually a day or two ahead of the verbal lashings that usually follow) anyway, its like she flat doesnt want to give me any way out… she wants me to sell a horse so we can save money on horse feed every month, I go to meet a prospective buyer and I’m “playing” and ignoring her needs, and “proving” that shes not my priority because I’m spending all this time apart from her… I wish I knew how to respond, I wish I could predict when those moods were coming, and I wish I could do something to help her through them other than laying down for her to lash me repeatedly and for days on end. I especially feel for our children, and especially our teenage daughter, whom she seems to lash out at with just as little reserve as she does me.

The good news… no, the great news, is that its not 100% of the time, its maybe like 1/4th of our lives, I pray it gets better and not worse.

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Magnolia December 13, 2011 at 7:55 am

Hello Chris,

Thank you. My father’s death has been slowly sinking in the past couple of weeks. I’m still wrapping my head around it. It probably wasn’t fair for me to use that comparison to the reader, Jim, but at that time, it made the most sense.

You ask how to respond when your wife is going through one of her ‘spells’ as you call it. That’s a tough one. It’s very easy for me to sit behind my computer screen and tell you what you should do. When we are in the heat of a battle and emotions are high, it’s VERY difficult to not react. So, I hope above all else you understand that I really do know how difficult and darned near impossible it is to deal with someone in a hormonally charged state.

But, here’s what I would tell you. What every woman wants and needs when she is feeling vulnerable (and perimenopause knocks our legs out from under us) is for the men in our lives to be STRONG. Women are testers. And I’m sure you and every other man who has ever had a long term relationship knows that. Love matters more to us than breathing. So, we are always throwing out tests for our men to see if they REALLY love us. Sometimes we may not even realize we’re doing it. It might come in the form of silly questions……”If I lost my legs, would you still love me?”………”Would you still love me if I had a scar on my face?”………silly things like that.

What we want to know is if you will fight for us. Will you slay dragons for us? So, if you can take the verbal assaults without getting defensive and angry, but respond with tenderness, love and forgiveness…….well, you’ve just become the king of our hearts.

Listen, I’m certain your wife hasn’t said anything of the sort to you. And I don’t mean to romanticize this. It’s not romantic when the kitchen sink is getting hurled at you or below the belt insults. It’s war. I’m just telling you though, that if you are strong enough to endure that and are willing to give forgiveness to your wife for her failings you will do great things not just for her, but for your family.

And yes, I do understand the impossible circumstances she is putting you in. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Those would be the times that it would serve you well to lovingly point that out……..”I love you. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to take care of you. But, I need to know what that is. And when I’m trying, I need you to see that I am trying……”

Women respond to that kind of vulnerable honesty. We really do.

Question: Does she ever apologize to you over this? Does she recognize that she is behaving irrationally? Because if she does, then you’ve got half the battle won right there. The bigger problem is if she is not even seeing clearly at ANY time.

Perimenopause is like an unbelievable fog. It settles over us like a heavy, wet, wool blanket. You couldn’t throw it off of you if you tried. Then when the hormones shift again, the fog lifts and we feel “fine” again.

It will get better, Chris. I’m no longer the raging, ranting lunatic that I was during perimenopause. Unfortunately, my own husband was not very kind to me during the worst of my symptoms. He pretty much made my perimenopause about HIM. He never showed any compassion or concern for how I was feeling. It was always his bruised ego that took front and center. I didn’t forget that either and it has been a huge factor in why we are currently separated.

I tell you that because women really do come out of perimenopause. And unfortunately, for many of us, depending on how we’ve been treated, may decide that we no longer want to stay in a marriage where we haven’t felt safe, loved or cared for. But, let me reiterate: I KNOW that you and your children are taking a beating. It’s not JUST about your wife. I realize that we shouldn’t use it as a convenient excuse to trample without mercy over our family.

But, when we have been abandoned in a “dark hour” so to speak, we tend not to forget that. Is it fair? Nope. But, it IS how we think.

I hope I’ve given you some more insight. If I need to clarify anything for you, please do not hesitate to ask.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 14, 2011 at 12:48 am

Hi again Magnolia, I love it that you’ve found a couple things for me to think about that are reassuring me at this point.

I have told her something very similar to your suggestion about asking her what she needs me to do to better take care of her and my need for her to hold back the disdain and venom when I’m trying to do so… it actually did get through the thickness of the air between us on a couple occasions now. Youre recommendation makes me all the more determined to keep digging and searching for those things I can do to take better care of her and to do a better job of being there for her. I really am convinced the kids and I can “love her through this”…

Yes, on a couple occasions she has apologized over the past 3 weeks or so. Im drawing hope from your statment that this means we’ve won half the battle.

I’m sure everyone out there dealing with this has their own set of “special circumstances”… I keep fighting off my thoughts of the many things people “dont understand” about our situation… but the cold hard truth is that it is compounded by the fact that I have done many things, and treated her in many ways, that were less than kind, loving, and committed… and having recognized it, still doesnt make it go away. I think only time and positive examples will ever finally erase the mistrust and hurt such that we can deal with whatever issues life throws us without the past additionally muddying things up. So, in that respect, I’ve certainly played my part in creating this mess we now find ourselves in while she’s having an even tougher time than before carrying this burden shes got on her shoulders now.

I think I’ve mentioned my concerns about my daughters relationship with my wife becoming strained, it does seem to be proving to be that the best thing Im able to do for my daughter is to love and support her mother… which is where I want to be anyway….

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ChrisO December 14, 2011 at 1:40 am

Its funny how we can be struggling with something thats as horrible as anything I’ve ever been through, and discover ourselves embroiled in a battle that turns out to be of our own making… I work out of town 2 weeks a month in a fairly remote location. We have cell service but its kind of spotty, and internet, but my wife seems to only like texting unless everything is just perfect between us. She says she finds me intimidating in face to face and phone communications, I’ve long known she’s a gentle and if anything timid person and its not really all that hard to pay a bit extra attention to making sure I only address her in a gentle fashion like she deserves, and of course now that she’s laying down the law about her expectations regularly, it seems she’s testing me to see if she can make me snap at her, I expect she’d real quick go off on the “I knew you couldnt live up to your promises” litany.

Anyway, it seems like if I’m at home I generally have better luck at helping her through things, and keeping our lives calm, I can do the kid taxi thing, make lunches in the morning, and so on, but she’s stuck doing all of that when I’m gone half the month. Typically about 4 or 5 days after I leave for work she finds something abou me or our lives together to blow up about, or to start hammering on me about , or some kind of crisis with the kids or family. She lays into me pretty strongly on the phone, hangs up, wont answer or return my calls, texts, or emails for a few days, then finally starts answering a couple texts and eventually we end up talking, though sometimes not till I actually get back to town. Its long been an issue I’ve hated about her, though now that I’ve changed my thinking towards being more understanding of what she might be going through I’ve found it more easy to last through this without arguing back or getting my feelings really hurt from the tirade. I’ve always thought it was a prelude to her leaving me and felt really desperate and hurt.

This past weekend it happened again, and right after she hung up on me I got about 20 text messages accusign me of all kinds of shortcomings, and then accusing me of not caring about the issues she raised, telling me there was no way I could ever make her happy because I couldnt possibly change enough, and she’d rather be parted from me all the time than put up with my indifference, and so on… And here I was practicing my deep breathing techniques a counselor has been telling me to, and when I ran out of supportive things to say I started texting things like “I love you” in response to her constantly incoming texts… finally it seemed like she was calming down a bit on day two… and I texted her in the morning “I hope you have a great day” and holy smokes, the fangs came out.. “are you for real”? “can you really be that clueless”? “no, I’m not having a great day, nor even a good day”…. I was horrified that I’d re-opened the bad box again, then later that afternoon another barrage of texts came in and I realized that they were coming through out of order for whatever reason… I mean I was getting texts from the middle of the whole conversation, from way prior to my “have a great day” text, that I’d not received for many hours after the conversation was actually kind of over… Thank God I wasnt letting myself respond to her complaints all out of order, and that I waited in the end until I got all of her messages before I made some kind of huge mistake like fighting back when she was already coming around to making peace.

It was actually kind of funny looking back at it… if all those texts had come through the whole thing would have calmed down in a matter of hours, and if my responses had went through in the order I sent them she’d not have blown back up again when she was already calming down… and we think we’re cool cause we live in these modern times of instantaneous communications…

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Magnolia December 14, 2011 at 6:41 am

Hi Chris,

The truth, whenever there is conflict in a relationship, it is rarely one-sided. Yes, of course there are times when one partner might be carrying more of the load and is truly putting forth more effort to keep the relationship on track. But, when two people find themselves stuck in a place of continual conflict and relationship problems, there is generally enough responsibility for each party to bear their own share.

You know, men often complain about certain things with women on the whole. They are general observations that are based in some truth and are pretty accurate. Like a woman’s tendency to talk about everything. A woman’s tendency to nag. That we sometimes send signals that are contradictory. While the observations are true, women are far more complex than that and it wouldn’t be fair to characterize us solely in those terms. But, there is definitely truth to all of those statements and I understand how those characteristics can cause problems for men trying to understand us.

On the flip side, a common complaint of women about men is that you all are very self-oriented. Men (generally) tend to think of themselves first and foremost and tend to lack a sensitivity as to how they treat people (e.g. their wives & girlfriends). Men can trample on women in ways that EVERY woman could see from a mile away, but men can’t seem to see it, nor do they seem to care, when it is right under their nose. Further more, it is not until there is a crisis that men begin to muster up any caring about it at all.

Which is something I tend to see here at this blog. By the time most men find their way here, they are in crisis mode. The foundations of their marriage have been rocked because their wives have gotten to a place (perimenopause) where they start saber rattling about what they are unhappy about and it shocks men. But, the truth is, Chris, by the time women really start to rock the boat with threats of leaving, divorcing, etc., we’ve been unhappy for a VERY LONG TIME.

I say none of this to lay guilt or blame at your feet. I say this to hopefully enlighten you as to what happens in the mind of a woman when she reaches perimenopause and she’s been unhappy in her marriage. Did you know that statistically women initiate over 2/3s of all divorces? Did you know that statistic sky-rockets during menopause?

Why?

Because when a woman reaches menopause her hormones shift in such a way that she is no longer inclined to “keep the peace” for the sake of the family. Literally, her hormones rewire her brain where she is, how shall I say it, “man-like” in her attitudes and perceptions. In other words, she’s no longer in the mood to tolerate what she once put up with happily for the sake of keeping the family unit in tact.

This usually comes as a shock to most men who perhaps have benefited mightily from her willingness to yield to conflict and allow their husbands to take them and the marriage for granted. And unfortunately, many men do in the minds of most women.

So, all of that to say that if you are willing to take some responsibility in the condition that you now find your marriage you are on the right path to working through these very turbulent times. I wish it didn’t take a crisis for most of us to realize we should change. But, I guess it’s human nature.

Life is a journey, Chris. Nothing stays the same forever. If we are to keep our marriages in tact, it is of the utmost importance that we learn to roll with the punches so to speak and be willing to change. Your wife will not be the same woman she was when she comes out of perimenopause. She will have an entirely different outlook and perspective. If you dig in and do not want to change with her (and I know you do want to change, it’s just an illustration), then you just might find yourself without a marriage to take for granted.

As far as your daughter, one of the best things you can do is reassure her that your wife is going through a VERY tough time (much like her teenage years, frankly) and that she needs understanding and patience. Also assure her that it is not HER fault that her mom is having a tough time. Be supportive and forgiving of your wife and your daughter will as well.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 14, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Hi Again,

So whats odds that a marriage could have been reasonably healthy, although with like you pointed out, some disagreements and conflicts with both spouses likely carrying some of the responsibility for them. Say, a husband who tries reasonably hard to be a good and honorable spouse, and a wife of similar intentions. And a husband with some warts on his personality and habits (or vices for the sake of discussion) and a wife with some baggage of her own as well.

Then along comes the peri-menopause issue in the marriage with all this hormonal induced intolerance and some certain amount of associated selfishness as I’ve seen described and discussed as resultant behaviors. Maybe some of the “baggage” her husband used to put up with are things like depression, mood swings, disengagement and distancing herself from her husband, and then with the additional influence of peri-menopause these things seem to be the kind of thing that might actually grow in proportion to what they once were.

Then the recollection of the marriage up to this point takes on a dimmer view… the bad times are remembered as worse, longer, more frequent, more vivid… and the good times are remembered as fewer, shorter, longer in between, and duller.

Does this sound like a general possibility when factoring in the challenges of peri-menopause? If so, is it reasonable to assume that with love and kindness and understanding on the parts of both spouses that in a period of time they can get to the other side of such challenges and have an even better relationship than they started with? If theres any hope of that… I’m in…

I’ve always felt theres room for improvment and growth on my part, I’ve always felt that the person I chose to bring nearest to me in my life, to share my most intimate self with, was the person best able to help me identify the areas for growth and change for the better. I’ve always asked my wife to be open and honest with me about such things, boy am I ever getting what I asked for now… in spades. But while its more brutal a presentation lately, its also still an opportunity for myself.

I get it about the percentages of women filing for divorce and the other statistics, but I’m pretty much past the fears of loosing her or having to change our lives around, I chose to stay and tough it out because I love her, and because I think theres hope.

I honestly think our crisis is past, we still have these lingering residual complaints she holds about the past, I’m working to get her to share the whole list of issues with me so I can at least start working on as much of it as I can, many I already know, a few are more important to her than I gave credit for in the past, and I admit there may even be some I’m unaware of, if I can get her to feel safe enough to trust me and tell me. One difficulty though is going for it, jumping in the deep end of the pool so to speak, and not letting myself think about, or dwell on, the issues she carried before this eruption, some of which seem even magnified somehow when augmented with the effects of this condition of peri-menopause. I’m becoming more comfortable with the idea that I must give 100% out of my love for her and expect nothing in return, allowing her to chart her own direction with respect to her shortcomings and trusting in my choice to love her and trust in my assessment of her heart and character when I chose her. I was a lucky man then, I’m a lucky man still, and I have a whole lot more love and understanding to give her before it gets too tough for me.

I got that book you recommended today… I’ve gotta go now, got some reading to do;) Thanks again, you give me hope…

Chris

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Magnolia December 15, 2011 at 12:08 am

Hi Chris,

From what I’ve read from you, I would say the chances of your marriage surviving are high. It takes a lot of character and courage to hear your faults. Especially if they are being pelleted at you with the force of a Gatling gun.

And yes, it *is* safe to assume that with love and kindness by both parties, you will get to the other side. I certainly wish you well, Chris.

Your wife is a lucky woman.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 19, 2011 at 1:58 am

Hi again Magnolia,

Thanks again for the encouragement and kind words, it does help to make it through the tougher times when theres some hope out there. I’ve been working my way through the female brain these past few evenings and have weathered a couple new storms since I last posted, these two times all about the kids. And even if you cant offer me any better options than the love and kindness approach, it helps to write it out and see it in front of my eyes like this so I hope you dont mind my ramblings yet again.

I’ve mentioned our teenage daughter before, and her difficulties with her mother, but in a way I feel like I’ve sold her out in being so accepting of the ideas that she’s going through a bunch of changes too and is a real handful and challenge and source of difficulty for her mother. The honest fact is her mother is downright cruel to her. I dont understand why the resentment resides so strongly in my wife, I see that it must be at least amplified by the strains I’ve put on her in our relationship, and that it could be partly because she doesnt feel as close to our daughter and she seems to think I am… but the more cruel she is, the more she forces that to be the case no matter what she wants or is hoping to accomplish. I had the thought tonight when I was tiptoeing around my wife on the phone trying to calm things down… that it might actually be best for both of them if I found someplace safe to send our daughter to for the rest of this school year and got her away from her mother to minimize the impacts on her.

My job keeps me away from home 2 weeks a month, I go home for 2 weeks the day after tomorrow, and our kid is nearly a basket case. She doesnt dare to ask for anything while I’m gone, no rides to take care of her horses, nor to see her friends… she’s stuck hanging around the house with her mother who is mostly in a rage, and she hides down in her bedroom. If I could find something in town that wouldnt break us I’d do it, but I have to meet the monthly obligations and I dont see much opportunity to change my employment conditions to tell the truth. I try like crazy to make it up to our daughter when I’m home, but at the same time, I’m trying like crazy to make things up to my wife on those all too few days each month. Theres not much left of me to go around nowadays, and that doesnt count for our 7 year old sons needs.

I read in the first chapter of the Female Brain something about how without recognition of whats going on, biology becomes destiny and we become helpless in the face of it…. I wish I could get my wife to read this thing too. My heart is breaking for our kids, and they are such great kids too. Our daughter has never once asked to hang out at the mall, or go shopping for frivolous things, (though she will work me over occasionally for some hi-zoot vitamins for her horses) She and her brother do so well in school, and are so kind to the other kids. I’m becoming fearful of what a year or two of this will do to them unless we can figure some way to stop the madness with respect to them. I’m ok with taking my hard knocks, I made my decision when I chose her with my eyes wide open, I make my decision to be with her during and after this (given half a chance) of my own accord, I made my decisions when I allowed issues to develope and persist in our relationship rather than make the relationship my number one priority…. and a host of other things that I’ve had my part in and that I chose or caused… but the kids, even (and especially) the teenage daughter, are innocents…

Shortly after we got married I discovered my wife had been emotionally and physically abused as a child and she carries to this day a scarred and rocky relationship with her mother who never stood up for her for all her life long. She was so excited when our daughter was born, and so in love with her, and shes turning out so wonderful and prescious, and this thing is destroying it.

I’m afraid to say anything on behalf of our daughter to her, it seems to make things worse. And I’m afraid to leave them alone unless things improve. The incidents have even gotten near physical on a couple occasions….

At the moment I’m still continuing to hang in there trusting our love will calm things down and make this easier on her so things can at least be a bit easier on us… I’ve got a lot more to give and a lot more I can take when its just myself, but when it comes to the kids it gets a bit more confusing.

I go home in less than 36 hours and am tiptoeing around the minefields just knowing theres a storm dying to let loose at any second if I miss-step…

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Magnolia December 19, 2011 at 7:45 am

hello Chris,

Let me get right to the point: Does your wife show ANY understanding of and does she have ANY insight into her behavior? Does she recognize what she is doing and how she is affecting you and your children?

Does she apologize? When she apologizes, what does she say?

I think the answers to these questions are very important and would have a great impact on what I would offer as advice. Without knowing what she says about her behavior, it is very difficult for me to offer anymore for you.

I will say this, however…..you are not required to be a whipping post and neither are your children. I do believe us gals needs to own our behavior. Yes, hormones are the root cause of it and we are deliberately setting out to pummel our family, neighbors and small animals which may be in close proximity to our foot. But, the truth is, we ARE behaving in ways that are hurtful to those around us and we have to take responsibility for that.

That should come in the form of apologies and a recognition that we understand we were completely out of control and irrational during those hormonal mood swings.

I would also like to mention that Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause and other excellent books on women’s health, addressed the issue of past, unresolved emotional issues and trauma that very often rise to the top during menopause.

It’s an interesting premise that she puts forth that I’ve been particularly fascinated with. When you tell me that you wife suffered abuse as a child and now she is behaving badly toward your daughter, I cannot help but wonder if there is something to Dr. Northrup’s assertion that might be worth considering.

All of this is contingent upon, though, on what you tell me about how your wife perceives what is happening and to what lengths is she willing to take personal responsibility for what she is doing.

Without any insight into her own behavior and without her being willing to own some of this, I’m afraid you’re in for a tough row to hoe.

I would love to hear back from you regarding those questions.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 20, 2011 at 2:04 am

Hello again Magnolia,

I’m excited to be going home tomorrow, I’ve got our daughter set up for riding most of her Christmas break with her trainer who is now letting us board the horses at her house, and whose invited her to stay with her as much as she wants to so we dont have to drive her back and forth, I’ll probably save that offer for when I’m gone again though in hopes it’ll help loosen up the tension she’s feeling around her mother.

I’m not sure of how much understanding she has or not, its still a mystery to me. I know she mentiond in a casual sort of passing way that she’s experiencing peri-menopause, but she kind of shut me out of any conversation about it. She’s been seeing a psycologist who has had her on clonazepam for several years now, to help her with anxiety. I had asked to meet with this clinician along with her early on but she didnt want me to, I’m still not sure why. Anyway, she kind of casually mentioned last time I was home that he’d mentioned peri-menopause when she last saw him. She’s also on something for her thyroid since that post partum eclampsia suffering about 7 years ago following the birth of our son.

But, thats not anything I really could call “understanding” of her behavior. Right now shes really wrapped up in reminding me of all the things I’ve done wrong in our life together, and is completely in denial about her interactions with the children… all their issues according to her have to do with my being gone 2 weeks a month….

For years she’s made casual and repeated reference to her paternal grandmother and uncle both being diagnosed as bi-polar, and talks about how depression runs in her fathers family, him and another uncle both on medication for it. She talks about how her father and her have very similar brains and shes comfortable with the clonazeprom because he’s on it too. She talks about her grandmother beign unable to raise the kids and an aunt who lived with them to help care for them when young, and I’ve never been sure if she was asking for help, looking for sympathy, threatening, or bragging that she wasnt that way.

She and I went to a marriage counselor about 15 years ago, after 5 years of marriage she had informed me she’d been having suicidal thoughts from even before our engagement, shes seen this other counselor off and on, but she’s avoiding her like the plague now.

The closest she comes to acknowledging some responsibility is when I convinced her that punishing me for this business failure when I’m doing the very tasks she’s identified she wants me to take on, is unfair. But she’s not acknowledged it as being anything more than her “maybe over reacting” to the pain she feels from 22 years of my complete and dismal failure as a husband.

So my tough spot with this is that I truly can see that I’ve got shortcomings, and that I failed to make this business profitable and failed to get out before it preoccupied way too much of my time and we lost way too much money on it… all true accusations, and all clearly impacting her so far as things like anxiety and stress and depression goes. So I have very little ground for conversing about even the tiniest issue affecting her.

Its almost like she’s self conscious about her conditions and such over the years and wants very terribly or even desperately to be “right” this time. And to tell the truth, I’m ok with that if thats what she needs, but I do need to be cognizent of our children and do my best to get them through this with minimal scarring, not that I have much control or say in anything at this point.

So, her understanding seems to me to only be with regards to that one instance where she sort of admitted she might be behaving a bit overly strong on the punishment desires she feels, and a half hearted acknowledgement that shes experiencing some peri-menopausel type symptoms, but complete denial about anything with the kids. The older ones feelings are completely discounted and discredited merely because she is physically the age of a “teenager”, every conflict they have is due to the “teenage” behaviors entirely, and have nothing to do with her actions, and if any extra credit is to be given anywhere, its me for having raised my voice those few times, and for being an “absent father”. So, in answer to your question about apologies… thats pretty much the extent of them… I honestly dont think she recognizes what she is doing and how she is affecting the children? I sometimes think she does know how she’s affecting me, and does so deliberately either as a test, or to force me away. I occasianally have thought she might want me to leave so her mother might “come to the rescue” for once in her life… one of the major issues from the childhood thing was that her mother ignored her trauma and made excuses for the stepfathers abuses…

I understand about the whipping post concept, but I am willing to put up with some pain if thats what comes along the way to helping her through this. Its the kids that are coming to be a greater concern lately.

I dont know how long it’ll take to earn her trust back enough that we can begin to have 2 way conversations about our lives together and how we deal with the children.

I will be getting Dr. Northrups book as a Christmas present to myself! I’m certain I’ll be done with the Female Brain by then, but I’m an oilfield slug and have to get help with some of the big words!

But the bottom line today is that my wifes perception is that for 21 years I’ve been blowing our money irresponsibly and leaving her and the children all the time to pursue my “fun activities” and yelling and having temper tantrums day in and day out, and living a life I’ve felt “trapped” in merely for the sake of not wanting the “stench of a divorce on my record”, and never really loved her, and can never change enough or stay committed to the change if I am able to make it, in such a way as to ever make her happy. And while I have to admit I’m guilty of many things, I’ve been in love with her all our married life, still am, and cant possibly visualize that changing no matter even if she leaves me.

Believe me, I know I’m in for a tough row to hoe, but again, my hope is that with enough love and patience on my part, we can get past this point and she can begin to trust me again, and to stop punishing me for the things I’ve done wrong, and start working together to forge a new life together where we can pass through trying moments like shes experiencing and actually ease one anothers burdens and relieve one anothers pains and be even more in love on the other side. I dont think I’m all that great a time from the day when I can get her to resume that couples marriage counselor we had seen in the not too distant past, and I have high hopes that will be the new begining of mutual understanding and trust in identifying how we will live our lives going forward.

I have found some equestrian related boarding schools and I am about half convinced changing the game up for our daughter might not be a bad idea, at least if she was away she’d not be filling up so many days of bad experiences with her mother for us to have to work through after this is all behind us., and my wifes life would be easier when I’m gone at work, with just the one kid to chaufer around.

All this being said, I have to remind myself that we have taken many positive steps to reduce stress in our lives and to set up a better situation for our daughter and her horses. I do believe I need to at least give these things a fair chance to succeed before I jump into even more serious changes. God’s been good to us so far, I see no reason for him to stop the little, daily, miracles from coming that he’s been sending our way.

I dont know if this helps your ability to access our situation here any better or not, I do plan to let her see my new book and hope for a remark and maybe that will be the opportunity to start into a real discussion of what impacts this may be having on her, and what the kids and I can do to better help her through it.

Mere thanks seems really unbalanced Magnolia, the time you’re taking to try understand our situation and offer words of encouragement and advice for complete strangers… its a great gift and I am very grateful.

Chris

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Magnolia December 20, 2011 at 10:14 am

Hi Chris,

The move with your daughter staying with her trainer for a while sounds like a good one. For everyone involved, and certainly, for your daughter.

I have an 18 year old daughter who was an equestrian for many years. She owned a lovely American Saddlebred that was the most wonderful horse God put on this earth. So, I’ve rather enjoyed the parts about your daughter, her horse and her trainer. I’ve traveled that road for many years.

I would also like to say with regards to your teen, that yes, as parents we have an obligation to be responsible in our behavior and attitudes toward our teens. My teen daughter has been particularly difficult for me the past three years and is now living in another state. It is a difficult and trying story that has responsibility going both ways.

That’s a hard one to address because as a single parent (married but separated) I do know how trying it is to raise children by yourself. It’s especially trying if you have the added burden of emotional difficulties, physical challenges and a lot of unresolved emotional and psychological baggage. Unfortunately, that stuff colors our world and in some cases, distorts our perceptions of what is true.

I came from an abusive family as well. So, I do understand how that can cross your wires and short-circuit your ability to cope in healthy ways. That does not mean you can’t. It just means you have a little extra work to get to the issues that color your world and drive your reactive behavior in situations. It is a task that requires full focus to be able to work through and if your wife is distracted or in denial (which denial doesn’t mean we’re getting up every day to say….”I’m not going to acknowledge this….” because, ironically, that WOULDN’T be denial :) )

Anyway, I’m not sure where I’m going exactly with this line of thought except to say that our baggage (and most people have it, frankly) does influence how we respond and behave, good or bad.

But here’s what I want to know. How much truth is there in this statement:

But the bottom line today is that my wifes perception is that for 21 years I’ve been blowing our money irresponsibly and leaving her and the children all the time to pursue my “fun activities” and yelling and having temper tantrums day in and day out, and living a life I’ve felt “trapped” in merely for the sake of not wanting the “stench of a divorce on my record”, and never really loved her, and can never change enough or stay committed to the change if I am able to make it, in such a way as to ever make her happy. And while I have to admit I’m guilty of many things, I’ve been in love with her all our married life, still am, and cant possibly visualize that changing no matter even if she leaves me.

This caught my attention the most in everything you’ve said. And here’s why: if she is pissed and it goes back that far, there is A LOT of work that needs to be done. Here’s the thing with women……we’re like elephants……we don’t forget. When/if we’ve been hurt or feel abandoned emotionally or betrayed, and it goes deep enough to penetrate our heart, we do not forget it. Not until the person who has hurt us can convince us that they know what they did, how much they’ve hurt us and how deep it all goes.

I know men do not think this way and very often find this trait of women highly irritating, annoying and non-productive. Just “forget it and move on” is NOT how women are wired to be. Any efforts by men to convince us that is what we should do is only salt in our wounds. We hear that as…..”Your feelings do not matter”

It is this type of hurt, Chris, that women will harbor until we get to a position where we can leave a situation. And then we do.

So, listen to me, I’m not excusing ANYTHING you’ve said that your wife is guilty of. Okay? I’m addressing this statement because I know how women think and I want to give you some insight here. If you have done the things you have stated here and haven’t made them right? That is EXACTLY what she is thinking about NOW.

It doesn’t matter to women what you say about yourself. That is, you say you are in love with her and she should know that inspite of your failures. True. Sort of. But, women need and want different things than men. She will NOT know you love her until those unresolved issues have been resolved. Even if they go back 20-something years.

If she’s been hurt that bad, you have a lot of work to do.

I know it’s hard to sort through the tangled mess……what is your responsibility……what is hers……which part is her distortion from her abusive upbringing……..it’s all in there, frankly, and trying to get through it all is going to take a lot of time.

Does she want to? Do you want to?

How dirty are you willing to get to save the marriage? That’s the question.

Magnolia

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ChrisO December 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I’m about to get on the plane so cant respond in full, I’ll try to this afternoon or evening.

The answer to your final question: “how dirty am I willing to get?” the answer is… VERRRY. I know I play at least a substantial role in at the very least, adding to the burdens of a troubled heart… and that no matter how many things I was doing right, I have to admit I see things I could have (and should have) done more, better, or maybe even less in some cases…

I am an avid hunter, I was raised that way since I was a young boy. I turned down a free African safari for 3 weeks a few years back that I never even asked her about… because it would have resulted in me only seeing her and the kids for 4 days in a month and a half period and I wasnt willing to sacrifice that much time away from them. My wife is off on thursdays and weekends… excepting some of the business demands when that got all out of control… I never plan anything on thursdays and weekends so I can be with them. So… how much truth is there to the 21 years thing? Well, certainly some, certainly I could have done better, certainly I will do better, but I cant bring myself to imagine its been enough to wash out 21 years worth of time together while I have loved her, even if I missed the mark 50% of the time (which I’d think would qualify me for title of “real jerk”) it would be something less than 21 years of no accomplishments. She in fact still thanks me for “saving her life” when I recognized the suicidal thoughts and found that counselor and initiated the whole process by doing couples counseling which we continued all through her recovery (such as its turned out to be anyway) I love this woman and given half a chance, I will win her back…

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chriso March 9, 2012 at 7:13 am

Hi Magnolia, A friend was asking me how things were with our marriage tonight at fire training and it brought to mind that I’d not checked back in with you for a while now. Actually, even moreso, he began describing similar symptoms that his wife has been going through and I just sent him your blog address in hopes he might find some idas and some reassureances like I did.

We are still together, and seemingly so, much less tenuously. We continue those dialogue exercises and attending the post troubled marriage retreat meetings, and I belive I’ve begun to win her around to that I plan to be here for her and with her, as she goes through this time in her life, so she seems accepting of the idea that we’ll stay together.

The greatest struggle now is that she seems to even more so single out our daughter and even our younger son to vent on when she gets in the rages she still seems to go through for about 4 days a month. I struggle to support her in these times, and my grip on the daughter in particular is less and less effective. Its almost like she’s had enough and is less and less tolerant, and at the same time its almost as if my wife seeks her out to share the misery with.

I think I told you I work out of town 2 weeks a month? Anyway, so far it seems the cycle is has landed sometime after the first few days I’ve been gone. Right now its full bore and I still have 3 more days to go until I can come home and give her some true support so she doesnt have to cope with the kids at all. I feel like a traitor and betrayer of my daughter in these times. All of my wifes family and friends instantly jump to her defense in her many complaints about our daughter and reinforce them with their comments about how trying it is to raise a teenager when they have no respect and no restraint and only care about themselves, and so on. So when I try to calm her down and reassure her that our kids are basically good, she starts to turn on me. She pretty much lays it down that if I dont “side with her” and come up with ever increasingly stiff punishments for the kids that I’m not supporting her and cant be counted on.

She got mad about them not doing the dishes and packed all the dishes in the house up and put in storage except for 4 place settings to force them to clean up, she is about to cancel our family vacation and throw away the non-refundable plane tickets because she thinks they talk back to her and disrespect her. And to tell the truth, especially in the case of the teenager, the disrespect is starting to grow.

I am almost through to her about us needing to start family counseling… I keep hoping and praying it will finally come through, maybe this time when I’m home… I cant help but think that if we can all of us communicate better maybe she will be able to put aside her anger towards us when she’s going through these times, and maybe she will let us reach out to her and help her through them.

The weekends with the horse trainer havnt been helping all that much since my wife needs to drive the daughter out there and she sees that as more workload for herself rather than a chance for them both to have soem breathing room. I’m kind of in a holding pattern and thinking more strongly about that boarding school idea I mentioned a while back… at least until after our daughter can drive herself around anyway.

So, the road is far better and more solid, but the challenges remain steep and formidiable. Thanks for being here, and for all the advise and explanations. Without this understanding, it’d be really difficult to stand by her.

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Magnolia March 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hello Chris,

Thanks for stopping back by and updating me on everything. I am very glad to hear that you have seen *some* change and progress, albeit, difficult to come by. I am very encouraged to hear how willing you are to get into the trenches with your wife.

I think the fact that you were humble enough to hear what I had to say and trust me enough to apply it speaks volumes for your personal character. It is NEVER easy to yield, give, and love someone when they are not behaving “worthy.”

I would like to add, however, that I do not mean to suggest that you should be a punching bag. I absolutely believe you should draw some serious boundaries and place limitations on what you are willing to tolerate. Perimenopause is not a carte blanche license for women to behave badly with no personal accountability.

I don’t believe I have ever said that, and I certainly never meant to imply it in anyway. My main mission in explaining perimenopause to men is to communicate that it is rooted in biology and not psychology. Though it certainly has a psychological impact. But, the source of the emotional merry-go-round is absolutely biological and chemical.

However, I want you to know, I’m not telling you to be her whipping post. I’m telling you to understand the SOURCE of a lot of what is happening.

It will serve you well, I assure you.

Magnolia

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Trueblue April 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

So I am a man whose wife has gone (still going through) perimenopause. Instead of trying to make things work, she just told me that she doesn’t feel in love anymore… She said she’s not sure why she feels this way, but she does. She said she can’t force these feelings, and thinks that divorce is the answer.

She then starts to think of reasons why she may not like me, and gives me a list of all the things i’ve done in the past 20 years. We were together 23 years, married for 14, and have two primary school age kids… but to her, the answer is divorce. She doesn’t work and has no money saved, but nevertheless divorced me. I am to pay her a big chunk of my salary in alimony. I’ve seen your rants about husbands. I have not been perfect, so let me save you from pointing that out to me. But the wonton nature and sheer destruction of a family should not be condoned. I’m not sure if it’s purely perimenopause, but I’m sure part of it is…. Not to forget, she had an emotional affair, I decided to forgive her for, but she tells me it’s too late… I just don’t love you anymore…. OK, how about the kids, how about them? is it worth even trying to make it work? I was willing to do anything, but no, it’s too late because she just doesn;t feel love anymore. No therapy, no marriage counseling, just done… you can’t force these feelings after 2 decades together.

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Magnolia April 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hello Trueblue,

I’ve very sorry about your divorce. I am currently in the middle of a divorce too. It hurts like hell. So, I certainly won’t patronize you with trite little cliches’.

However, I must take issue with your characterizations of my posts as “rants” against men. Indeed, there are a couple here and there where I’ve been exasperated and frustrated at the communication divide that exists between men and women.

But, I have worked extraordinarily hard to try and see the point of view of men like you who are, no doubt, the collateral damage in perimenopause. I cannot apologize for my point of view. In fact, I won’t. But, I can try to offer a view into the mind of women and how we think.

It might be useful, it might not. But, the fact is, we all see the world through our own prism. Perimenopause most certainly does a number on a woman’s head. I will grant you that. But, having been through it and knowing how it affected me, and certainly my relationship with my husband, I can tell you for a FACT, that perimenopause and perimenopause BY IT SELF cannot destroy a relationship.

It’s just not possible.

Again, I’m sorry that you are going through a divorce. As one who is on that path, as I’ve said, I have great empathy.

Magnolia

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Jocelyn May 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Magnolia,
Hello, I am going to be 37 this year and I am experiencing many signs of pre menopause. I have looked into some of the signs and symptoms and I have at least half of them. The biggest one is that I have zero interest in sex. This symptom alone has sent my marriage into a full out war zone. We have been married for 9 months, this is a second marriage for both of us. I have older children that do not live with us and he has custody of his 2 small children, that lives with us.
Over the last year and a half, I have had many stresses in my my life, with a new marriage and step children, In laws…etc. I have seen my doctor because for this time I was missing periods or having very little flow when it did arrive. I had an ultrasound as well and it was good.
My husband and I have been arguing for the last few months because my interest in sex is gone. I also have mood swings and love to plan events outside of the home with my girl friends. I like my own space a lot more these days.
I have suspected pre menopause is what is going on with me for the past year and I have tried to explain this to my husband. He believes that I am now just using excuses to not have sex with him. He accuses me of having affairs and not having sex has become a daily topic. He wants answers that I can’t give him. He has researched this, and tells me its all in my head or an excuse. His reasoning for this is because I don’t have heavy flow and it doesn’t hurt when we do have sex.
I am very confused and his daily pressure for answers on a topic I have obviously never gone through before is only making things worse. He makes me feel guilty that I feel this way. All he seems to be worrying about is ‘how to spice things up’ so I will have sex. He has made the way I am feeling about him and how or what he needs to do so we can have sex. To be very honest, his behavior towards me and how I am feeling is the biggest turn off and only makes me want to avoid him more.
If you could please help me to understand the symptoms I am experiencing and how to deal with my husband so that he might understand that this is about me and my body.
thank you

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Magnolia May 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Hello Jocelyn

I’m really sorry you are in such a difficult and stressful situation. If you *are* beginning to enter perimenopause, the stress of a new marriage, in-laws, step-children, and a husband pressuring you all the time, will only make it worse.

I would suggest that the *first* thing you do is find a physician (gyno or endocrinologist) who can run the appropriate tests to see if you are beginning to enter perimenopause. You need to establish that yea or nay right off the bat, because just not knowing for certain can be stressful all by itself. So, I would encourage you to take some kind of action.

Next, I think you have already stated a big part of the problem and that is how your husband is treating you. So many men just really do not understand that their treatment of women can be either a turn on or a turn off. If he is pressuring you and making you feel guilty and powerless, of course you are not going to want to have sex with him. No woman with any shred of dignity and self-respect would.

Next, if you are feeling bold enough, point him to my blog. I deal with a lot of men here who have no clue how to handle women in perimenopause. Sometimes, an objective voice (and particularly a female voice) helps more than listening to the person closet to you. He definitely sounds confused and misguided.

Last, I want to say personally to *you* that you are not broken. There is nothing WRONG with you. You are going through some serious changes that are having an enormous impact on your outlook, your physical life, and your emotions. Please believe me when I say the guilt and shame that is being heaped on you is not warranted. Do not internalize it and help your husband blame you. He really needs to step back and see that he is very much a part of the problem. But that won’t happen until you give yourself some much needed self-acceptance and belief in you.

And finally, if you are able to pinpoint for certain if you are in perimenopause and would like to do things to help your sex life, I would highly recommend bioidentical testosterone. You can use it in cream form, pellets, and gels…..those are the ones I can remember right off the bat. It will help your libido, I promise you!

But, I wouldn’t make having sex my priority. It sounds to me that you and your husband need to work out how you are communicating to one another and sort out those life issues. A lot of times when we focus on the REAL problems, sex works itself out.

I hope some of this helps. If I can clarify anything for you, let me know.

Magnolia

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Paul August 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

No woman can understand how important it is to be intimate with the woman they love. So the women making comments about us nasty terrible guys is way off base. I am the most loving man alive, have a great job, do LOTS of the housework, etc. Not because I want sex…because I love the woman I am with. And I understand the changing hormones can affect a woman’s libido. But women just expect men to accept the decrease in intimacy without a blink of an eye? We think that there is something wrong with us because we cannot even turn on the woman we love. We feel undesirable and unwanted. And that leads to feeling disconnected. Which is the start of the end of a relationship. So I say to the women WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!!! This is NOT just about her, or just about him, its about US. And we have to find a way to solve the problem TOGETHER, or the disconnect WILL happen. I am there right now. And if you are a woman and do not want that disconnect to happen then recognize it IS a relationship-ending issue, step forward, stop using it as an excuse to ignore intimacy with us, and lets work on it together.

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Magnolia August 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Hi Paul,

I found your comment interesting for a couple of reasons. First, because I whole-heartedly agree with you. Perimenopause is definitely something you have to work through together. And that you see that is a huge plus in your column. A lot of men are not willing to see it that way. They look at it as some sort of deficiency on their wife’s part that they have to disconnect from until she “gets over it.”

That type of disconnected, “don’t get your cooties on me” kind of attitude from some men is often times a death blow to a marriage. Women need to be emotionally supported by their husbands, and during perimenopause nothing could be truer. So, I’m really glad that you actually see that and realize that.

However, I am wondering, if perhaps you are still thinking more about *you* when you say that, than you are really displaying some sensitivity toward your wife and what *she* is actually going through? Look, I know that men are not naturally as compassionate as women, and emotional empathy is not something that comes easy for you. So, if I’m coming off as scolding you, please forgive me and bear with me. That is not my intention.

I call things as I see them. And unfortunately, what I often see at my blog (not always, but pretty darn consistently) from men is that they see *themselves* as the one who is primarily suffering. They are freaking out because they don’t feel loved. They don’t feel their physical needs are getting met, or they don’t feel…………and you can just fill in the blank.

Yes, you are in deed being affected by perimenopause. When we get married, everything that happens to our spouse, in some way or another happens to US as well. So, I am not minimizing your need for sex and connection with your wife. Because it is powerful, it is real, and I agree that you are being affected negatively by being shut-out from your wife.

Can I ask you a personal question? Have you ever suffered from erectile dysfunction? Have you ever had some kind of a physical problem that made sex impossible? A lot of men do suffer from that, and many other physical issues and they can no longer have sex.

So, what should the wife of those men do?

Seems to me that she would have to accept it. What else can she do? Throw temper tantrums and whine about how hard it is for HER to not have sex? Look, Paul, I understand that when men and women enter marriage, they do so with certain expectations. Then once we are married, if those expectations are not met, we have a couple of choices……..we can *change* our expectations, or we can decide that the failure of our spouse to live up to those expectations is a deal breaker and leave the marriage.

Really, it’s that simple isn’t it? Well, of course, we could also suffer in silence and make ourselves a martyr and perhaps make our spouse pay for the rest of the years of the marriage for failing to meet our expectations, I suppose. But, I find that the least desirable option, personally.

And finally, on a very personal note, I will tell you this. I understand COMPLETELY what it feels like to be shut out sexually in a marriage. I am two months from getting a divorce. It is currently in the court system, working its way through the legal channels.

ONE of the reasons I went to the lawyer to separate from my husband (and please note, it was not the PRIMARY reason) is that my husband refused to have sex with me unless I initiated it. Throughout our entire marriage (nearly 14 years), I have been the initiator of all things intimate and sexual. Our ENTIRE marriage, with perhaps one or two notable exceptions.

What’s worse, my husband REFUSED to discuss it with me. He made every excuse under the sun. He said he was too fat. Which was absurd, because he looks EXACTLY the same as he did when I met him. And at the time he was using that for an excuse, he REALLY looked the same. He didn’t think he was “too fat” when we first had sex, though. So, that excuse was really stupid.

Then he would say he was tired. Or he would say he didn’t have time. Or he would say we had “been fighting” (which was not always the case)

The point is, he ALWAYS had an excuse and he would NOT discuss it with me. I even asked him twice if he was gay. It made no sense to me that a healthy man would not want sex with his wife. But, he didn’t. And it has definitely contributed to my wanting out of the marriage.

So, I really DO understand how a lack of sex can kill a marriage. You have no idea how much I understand. And women feel the same way too. We feel unloved, unattractive, unappreciated too, Paul. So, you don’t have the market cornered on how a lack of sex affects one’s self-esteem.

I’m right there with you.

But, here’s the deal: Perimenopause is STILL about HER, not YOU. It is filtering down and it is affecting you, yes. But, this entire situation needs to be redefined. You need to take yourself OUT of the equation as a “victim”

You are not a victim. You are being affected, but you have choices. You have power to choose HOW you want to view this situation. Whatever choice you make will take you down a certain path. If you “choose” to be a victim, and place yourself and your own feelings, offenses, wounds, and hurt at the center of everything, then I can assure you that you won’t be able to help your wife, yourself or your marriage.

Magnolia

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Paul August 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hi and thanks for the response to my post. First, I am sorry you are having to go thru the divorce. I have done that and its a very painful process. It sounds like it is based on lack of communication which in my experience is the number ONE root cause of most divorces. As far as the ED thing….I have NEVER had that issue. In fact as a 51 year old guy I hear that I am very much the exception. But that aside….I do not know why you keep indicating that men need to stop viewing themselves as a victim and making it all about themselves. If a guy is doing that then he is a selfish ass. And I am NOT a selfish ass. I SEE and FEEL how much she is going thru and how difficult it must be. If you look at the history on my computer, you would see how much I have looked up how to HELP my wife thru this. You writing that you think I am still making this all about me is so off base that it is flabbergasting. Just like ANY medical issue, this is something we face TOGETHER because we ARE TOGETHER. SHE needs me, and I NEED her. We love each other and if a man loves a woman he puts her above himself. And if she loves her man she puts him above herself. And I DO. And SHE does. So I disagree with you saying this is just about HER. You seem to be stuck on that. Its about US and OUR RELATIONSHIP. My loving her and meeting her needs as best I can…because I love her and want her to be happy. And her meeting my needs the best she can because she loves me. I know that is generalizing…but that IS what it comes down to.

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Magnolia August 16, 2012 at 9:25 am

Paul,

Have you not read my blog? I have said over and over and over and over and OVER again, that I KNOW perimenopause affects other people. I even said it in my last response to you (more than once).

We do not live in a vacuum. Nothing we do when we are married, nothing we experience, is just going to affect us, the individual. It filters down in some form or fashion and affects other people around us.

So for the MILLIONTH time, I’m going to say it again: Perimenopause DOES affect marriages and spouses.

Okay? Is that fact established?

Now, let me say THIS for the MILLIONTH time: It is NOT, nor will it EVER be about YOU. Are you having mood swings? Are you having hot flashes and night sweats? Are you having flooding, gushing periods? Are you having weight gain? Are you having depression, heart palpitations, vertigo, are you having vaginal atrophy, bleeding during intercourse, vaginal dryness?????

No, Paul. YOU’RE NOT!! That is what I can’t seem to get through to you and countless other men that come to this blog. Can you draw a line between you and your wife and say: I am not going through perimenopause. My wife is going through perimenopause. And how it is affecting her is having an impact on my life. But, I am not going through perimenopause.

And yes, I *do* think at the end of all of your efforts, you are thinking about how YOU are feeling. I see it and hear it ALL THE TIME from men.

Men want to do things that are “physical” by and large to help women. How do I know? Because I have experienced it my entire life. They want to fix the plumbing, carry out the garbage, wash the dishes, etc. Which is grand, and wonderful, and are noble gestures of love and commitment. I do not diminish ANY OF THAT.

But understanding matters of the heart, understanding what it REALLY means to women to have EMOTIONAL support, is something that eludes 9 out of 10 men that I have known in my life time.

And nothing that I have said to you personally is about “blaming” you. I am communicating my observations and the observations of countless women who complain of EXACTLY what I’m trying to tell you and that you seem impervious to.

I do not doubt you love your wife. I just doubt that you REALLY understand what is going on and how to help her. If you did, you damn well wouldn’t be at this blog looking for answers now would you?

Magnolia

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Paul August 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wow. I came to this blog looking for ways I COULD help my wife. The opening name for your blog is “How Can I Help My Wife In Perimenapause”, right? Your blog came up because that was exactly what I put in my Google search engine. If the only answer you can give is its all about HER and us guys (as you say 9 out of 10 of us) are all impervious uncaring selfish stupid morons, well, first of all that is offensive, its an over-generalization, it is not accurate (why would I be searching for ways to HELP HER if I was an uncaring selfish moron??? You do not even KNOW me) and MOST importantly, that does not help me to help her much.

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Magnolia August 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

If you can find one place on this blog where I have said that men are “uncaring, selfish morons” I will eat those words and you will personally receive one very humble apology from me.

If you can find one place on this blog where I have said that men have caused perimenopause, I will eat those words as well.

If you can present to me one case where a man has personally experienced perimenopause in his physical body, I will stop saying that “it is about her and not you.”

If you don’t like the answers you are receiving from a woman who has personally experienced perimenopause and understands how it affects a woman’s body, and who has also spent 5 years studying, researching, and writing about it, in addition to talking to other women who have also experienced in their bodies, and who also understands what actually *helps* women when they are going through perimenopause, then do not ask.

Go find a man who agrees with you and do whatever it is he says.

Good luck on your quest.

Magnolia

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Paul August 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

Anyone reading this blog and your responses to my posts would agree that your responses have not been positive reflections of the male species, have been overgeneralizations and have been derogatory about me. If you think otherwise well then I am one reader who is being honest with you and telling you how I see it. You still have not told me so I guess I have to ask you outright and make it simple….in your opinion, without raging on men for even asking, or saying that the only reason a man would ask is for some selfish purpose (OK it IS a selfish purpose…I love my wife and want to make her feel better…then I am guilty as charged!) or responding that a man cannot help because we will never know what its like, what ARE the top five ways a man can help his wife with what she is going thru? And give me more then vague answers like “Be Supportive” please. This question is open to ANY woman who happens to see this post, or anyone who knows what they are talking about and has any ideas.

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Magnolia August 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

I am baffled as to why you want my opinion?

If you feel I am overgeneralizing, raging on men ‘for even asking’ and have done nothing but be derogatory toward you personally, then why under God’s heaven are you still asking me?

If you are interested in what I have to say about perimenopause, how it affects women, and what I think men can do to help their wives, you have at your disposal countless blog posts on this blog that I have written.

Please avail yourself of them. If find something that helps you, great. If it doesn’t, then please, by all means, disregard it.

Magnolia

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Caroline August 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Hello Magnolia

Firstly thank you for your blog.

I am 46 and have been perimenopausal for a few years, but have just started getting the real symptoms 40 plus days between very heavy periods, hot flushes, headaches and a feeling of tearfulness.

My youngest son aged 14 chose to live with his dad this year, after only having minimal contact with him before hand. So where as I thought I had years left with children at home – I haven’t and now my body is telling me I can’t have anymore

I love my husband deeply, but he has never been very good with me if I show my emotions, he comes across as curt towards me, and tells me to stop snivelling, I know he only does this as a way of not knowing what to do

The problem is since all these hormonal changes have started big time, I do feel like sobbing my heart now and again and would love to be able to sob in my husbands arms and share how I really feel with him

Instead I either cry when he is asleep or I am over sensitive to provoke a reaction from him

I would really like to know the best way to tell him what I feel like at the moment and how sad I feel without him telling me not to be silly

This is an important change in my life, that I want to go through with him, not with me hating him for not understanding and him thinking I have turned into a cow

Thank you

Caroline

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Magnolia August 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Hi Caroline,

Perimenopause is such a tough time in woman’s life. It does seem like it would be so much better if our husbands were more sensitive and caring. I noticed in your comment that you were still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and choose to believe the better about him and his unkindness toward you, rather than thinking he is simply being cruel.

Women are able to do that so much easier than the average male, I think, and they benefit greatly from our willingness to do that as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know what I can tell you to say to your husband. I have worked diligently for years here at my blog in an effort to communicate perimenopause to men, in hopes that it would help them be more kind and sensitive to their wife’s suffering.

There have been a few gallant souls who were humble enough to hear what I have to say. But, the greater part of them are not to receptive to any explanation other than what they already think. In other words, they are here simply looking for a rubber stamp to codify what they already think. So, to those men, my efforts have been in vain.

I believe that people hear what they want to hear and they think what they want to think. So, if your husband is more inclined to tell you to ‘stop sniveling’ when you are going through such a difficult time with your hormones, I doubt there is anything a complete stranger could suggest that would soften his heart or inspire any kind of compassion in him.

I am divorcing a man who has treated me in a very similar manner. I understand how much that hurts and how deep it cuts into your heart. There are just no words for it. And yes, it’s especially difficult if you don’t have any children to distract you from the pain.

The best advice I can offer is to you personally, and that would be to know that you will get through perimenopause. You really will. And I would also highly recommend that you consider using bioidentical progesterone for you heavy periods. It will help with that, and many other symptoms during perimenopause which are associated with estrogen dominance.

I would also tell you that you are welcome to come here and unload your emotions. Especially if it will help you manage your relationship with your husband better. Please join us on Facebook too. A lot of ladies hang around there and chat.

I’m sorry I can’t give you the kind of answer you would like to help you communicate with your husband. But, I’m really at a loss there.

Magnolia

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Caroline August 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Thank you for your reply

I suppose this is one of those situations where only other women understand what you are going through and what you feel like

I think us women tend to be kinder, as when men grow “rounder” and lose their hair – we do all we can to make them feel better about themselves, it is a shame that men can’t sometimes offer the same support back

Thank you for your suggestions and I will link up on Facebook

Take care

Caroline

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Magnolia August 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I agree. It would be nice if they could reciprocate. There are certainly some men who are caring and sensitive. I wish I could run into those men more.

Unfortunately, I run into those who are pretty self-absorbed around here. It doesn’t help that I am also going through a divorce and my patience with them is wearing VERY thin. I am afraid that my own pain and hurt comes through more lately than it has in the past.

Hopefully, once I get through my own divorce, I will be able to show more compassion and less irritation.

Yes, I do hope you will join us at Facebook. And if I can offer anymore moral support, I am happy to do that for you.

Magnolia

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moonwalker September 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

my story to share….married for approx 10 years, to an awesome girl. were in our mid 40’S….she has been going through this now for the past year….hard very hard….when you have a very active daily sex life…and all of a sudden stops….bam….severe mood swings….but she wont get help…..there is a little sex once in a great while….now its become alot more of ” teasing type”.” she never teased before”…gets me all worked up…then shuts me down…almost like split personality disorder….like im married to two different people…although i cant understand why she reads stuff like 50 shades of gray..” all three volumes”…and never even told me???? really weird….dont want sex with me…but reads the smut behind closed doors..and if i ask her about the book..she flips out on me…im trying to cope with this. the best i can…i do and always did most of all housework and cooking etc etc…just drives me crazy where she will like intentionally get me all worked up…..then snap if i proceed…talk about rejection at its worst…..and like another poster said….she will then start ranting about things of past or something so random as a reason not to give me sex, after she just teased me..so im like wtf!!..their is no compromise..im always left looking like the bad guy…..is this stresful on a marriage??…… yes it is over an beyond…its tearing my marriage apart…” …my issue is “if you see its tearing things apart”…why not at least get help?? why continue…i know some do seek help……mine wont…its always i have the problem….i can honestly see why couples divorce over this and for the most part its out of the husbands hands…

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Magnolia September 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Hi Moonwalker,

Yes, perimenopause is difficult and confusing – for husbands and women too. I can’t speak to your wife’s behavior or offer any explanation that would be useful.

But, I can say that it is not guaranteed that people divorce when women enter perimenopause. Many marriages get through it just fine. I am inclined to believe that those which don’t make were likely already on rocky ground, or had underlying issues which bubbled to the top when hormones began going haywire. It is a pattern that I’ve detected.

You are not a victim, however. You really do have more power than you may think you do. There *are* things you can do, but it may require a paradigm shift in terms of how you view your marriage. Perhaps your expectations heretofore need to be re-evaluated? How have you viewed your marriage?

It may also require that you have to change some long standing behavior patterns which may have worked for you for a very long time, but no longer work now.

The point is, you are not an automatic loser in this equation. While you can’t control what your wife is doing, you certainly have control over what you do and what you think. Any success at change will definitely be influenced by how much you are willing to do.

Magnolia

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Jafo July 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Ok, I see a lot of comments from men, or about men…that indicate these men are pretty damn selfish.

But what about those of us who are not selfish? Who really love and care about our wives? Who don’t think our world is ending simply because we’re not getting laid as often as we think we’re entitled to. We sympathize with the sleepless nights.

I just really miss the looks I used to get that reminded me of how she really feels. I miss snuggling up and watching a movie. I miss being hugged when I’ve been out of town for a few days. When I tell her how great she looks and how much I love her, I mostly get the feeling that she just “expects” it from me because I’m her husband. And that my opinion really doesn’t matter.

Thanks,
Jafo

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Magnolia July 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Hello Jafo,

First of all, your opinion *does* matter. Please be aware that a lot of these posts are born out of a lot of years of frustration that I have experienced in trying to explain perimenopause to men.

There are PLENTY of men who come to this blog and who reach out to me, who are caring, loving men who really want to help their wives. And I’m in no way suggesting that women should get a pass on their behavior and attitudes simply because they are going through perimenopause.

So, please do not think that I’m bashing men here. I’m not. Unfortunately, not all men are caring about perimenopause. They are incredibly self-absorbed and only want their wives back because they want the status quo where their needs were always being met, with little care or concern for their wives.

But, obviously, each situation is unique and I’m not talking about all men when I write these articles.

I’m sorry you’re having a tough time. Perimenopause does a number on women, and it definitely spills over into our relationships.

Magnolia

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Jafo July 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Hi Magnolia,
I just want to clarify. I don’t think you or anyone else on the blog is man-bashing. There’s a lot of comments on the blog from men that I believe are very selfish.

I just want all the wives out there to know that many of us husbands really want to do whatever we can to help you – even if that just means giving you your space.

We want to help. But even when we think we’re doing the right thing it feels like it’s the wrong thing.

We each just want our best friends back or at least some hope that we will get through this. It feels like even if we were perfect, which we are clearly not, it might still turn out badly for us. Badly might mean lots of things but mainly it’s just losing the one you love.

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Magnolia July 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I understand, Jafo

I can see where it’s hard for men to understand perimenopause, much less have the first clue what to do.

There are plenty of men who come here who are like you. They want to help and they just don’t know what to do. Others, as you may have seen, are exactly as you’ve stated…..selfish.

I didn’t take offense at your comment. I just wanted to make sure that you didn’t feel this was/is a man-bashing blog. It’s not. Sometimes I get frustrated and I vent my frustrations by way of my blog posts.

But, I’m trying very hard to provide support and good information to both men and women.

Magnolia

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Jafo July 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm

So something I’m trying to get a handle on…as I see her change and it’s clear to me that she doesn’t feel the same way about me as she used to, it’s hard for me not to detach from her as well. I don’t want to do that, but it feels like it’s the only way to survive emotionally. I fear, though, that as she gets through this and maybe comes out there other end expecting me to be there waiting for her, that I can’t actually just turn it back on 5 or 10 years from now. I just don’t know if I’m capable of that.

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Magnolia July 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I am not sure what to tell you exactly, Jafo. It seems to me that just because spouses change, or even if their feelings wane, that does not necessarily mean that you can’t get it back.

Something I’ve told men who come here is that they have to be willing to get in the trenches with their wives and change too. In my experience here, I’ve noticed that most men are not too willing to do that. Some are, once their marriage is hanging on by a thin thread, but unfortunately, by that time, it’s really too late.

It seems to me that if you or your wife is not willing to engage and do what needs to be done, the chances of the marriage surviving are not too good.

Magnolia

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Dug August 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm

At some point every human being must take personal responsibility for their own behavior. The reason they dont make it all about you is because it inst terminal cancer. Its emotion and behavior and you do have some control of yourself if you make the effort. No matter the cause, if you shit on your partner, they have a right to their feelings and there is absolutely no value in your expectation that you should be allowed to treat others any way you choose with impunity.

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Magnolia August 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Hello Dug,

I agree with you. We *do* have to take responsibility for our behavior, which is why I often tell women that they *should* apologize to those whom they’ve hurt or offended during times of hormonal mood swings.

I can assure you that I’ve doled out MANY apologies to people due to my hormonally induced behavior. But, the notion that a woman can CONTROL her hormones is false. A suggestion, by the way, which is ONLY made by men who haven’t got the first clue what a woman’s hormonal experience is about. Unless of course, you’ve given birth? Had menstrual cycles?

Didn’t think so.

I would also submit to you, that the day YOU can psychologically control the changes that testosterone causes in your body – facial hair, deepening of the male voice, even aggression & sexual urges – is the day you can assert that women can control what estrogen does in theirs.

Magnolia

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Shaz December 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Wow, bummer… I was actually looking for suggestions of things that would help during those tough and incomprehensible moments. Not all of us fit the *stereotype* and I think most of us *men* feel the loss in libido is the easiest to understand and be compassionate about. It’s the things we can’t understand or directly help to change. More positive direction in the blog would have reached more people and had more impact. Back to Google.

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Magnolia December 12, 2013 at 3:25 am

Shaz,

The main reason men have such a difficult time understanding how perimenopause affects women is because they take it personally. They make it about them. They focus on how they are being affected rather than trying to understand how the woman in their life is being affected. It is a VERY common problem, and inspired this post which you are commenting on.

I find it incredibly ironic that you read a post written to help men realize they need to stop making perimenopause a personal issue for *them*, and you respond to the post by taking it personally.

Magnolia

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L February 14, 2014 at 8:09 am

It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m sitting in bed with tears flooding my face because my man says that though he understands all of my perimenopausal symptoms, the lack of sexual interest “says it all” regarding our relationship. I told him he thinks he understands but he does not. That it is like if you are sick or very tired, you just cannot MAKE your body respond sexually even if you wanted to. He is a very good man and I love him. I feel very sorry that he feels rejected, I never wanted to make him feel that way. I explained my physical symptoms and anxiety and depression to him and he says that none of those things make him love me any less or desire me less, but he still says that lack of interest on my part must mean I have something else going on that he doesn’t know about. I don’t know what else to do. So I cry. And get more depressed. Because I just cannot be what he needs me to be, and I can’t make him understand that I have no interest in anyone else. I try to be good to him and continue to meet his needs, but it is not often enough, I guess. So on a day when we should be recognizing and celebrating our love, I’m wondering if we will even stay together. And it shouldn’t be this way. Thank you for listening.

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Magnolia February 14, 2014 at 8:37 am

Hello “L”

I’ve heard your story often when it comes to a woman’s crashing libido during perimenopause. I find it unfortunate (which is really a nice way to say it, because I don’t want to say what I REALLY think) that some men, your husband included, are more interested in their own sexual needs than trying to understand and love their wives through perimenopause.

It’s just pure and utter selfishness. Period. Why else would he resort to manipulation, guilt, and shame to get what he wants? Now you are deeply saddened and depressed, yet he’s going to assume, even when you tell him otherwise, that your lack of libido (which is completely and 100% hormonally induced) is about HIM. It’s because you don’t love HIM.

I’m so sorry, because I know how deep these types of issues can cut into a woman’s heart. A time when YOU need HIM, and all he can do is turn it around as an assault on HIM, pour a big heaping dose of shame and guilt on you as well.

I am happy to listen to how you feel anytime. Please feel free to come back.

Magnolia

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Linda August 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I am going through perimenopause and am a cancer survivor. Nonetheless, my husband does not understand my depression. We have been having problems because I have had suspicions of him cheating on me, and he was acting and doing some “out of character” behaviors for months. My reaction was very poor and hostile, I admit it. The problem is also that he refuses to acknowledge any of his owns shortcomings, and believes that my anger and problems have caused this marital decline. Our lack of good communication is the main problem, and he tends to lie about many things because he doesn’t want to deal with my reactions. He admitted that in therapy. I am very worried that this lying problem will continue, and I no longer trust him because I still am not sure if he cheated. I realize I have to work on my own reactions and my anger issues, but part of them stem from having a non-communicative and a husband whose behavior has many passive-aggressive elements. What would you recommend? I am seeking a new therapist because this one is not working out.

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Magnolia August 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Hello Linda,

First, let me say I’m sorry that you are struggling with depression and feeling unsupported. There is just nothing worse than to be fragile, weak, and vulnerable and to feel abandoned on top of it all. I’ve been there.

And if you are suspicious that your husband might be cheating it is also perfectly understandable that you would react poorly. My gosh, who wouldn’t? So there is no need to apologize to me over it, I assure you of that.

I spent nearly 15 years in a passive-aggressive marriage, so I knew profoundly how difficult that is and the type of emotional turmoil it causes. The thing I would recommend to you is to go forward with the counseling…….for YOUR sake. You need someone to talk to. So what if you have to pay them? It’s necessary for your sanity.

The second thing I would recommend is that you purchase the book “Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man” by Dr. Scott Wexler.. Just click on the title and it will take you to the book.

It is, in my opinion, the best resource I have ever found on the subject of passive-aggression, and more specifically passive-aggressive men. I have said often that the book set me free in my marriage. I knew on an intellectual level that my ex-husband (then husband) was passive-aggressive. What I *didn’t* know was just how pathological real passive-aggression is, and how it can utterly destroy any hope or capacity for real marital intimacy.

And for the record, if someone is truly passive-aggressive, you should EXPECT lying. That your husband admitted it, frankly, is pretty damn impressive. Mine never did. Though after well over a decade of dealing with him, I began to understand that no matter what he said, he was lying to me constantly. Eventually, I was able to prove it (to myself…..not to him).

Avoidance of conflict is at the core of all passive-aggression. So, again, I’m not surprised that he avoids you and refuses to communicate. That is typical, text-book passive-aggressive behavior.

I think you will find the book extraordinarily helpful. As will the counseling. As far as whether you can work out your issues or not, that obviously remains to be seen. I think it’s important, however, that you do not blame yourself for your husband’s lack of communication or his lying. If he is passive-aggressive (and it sounds as if he is), then you will ALWAYS be blamed for his failures. That is also a very typical, textbook, passive-aggressive behavior.

I sincerely hope you can find a way to navigate through these times in your life. Cancer and perimenopause is a double whammy.

If you need to chat more or have any more questions, please feel free to ask.

Magnolia

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Let November 5, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I have never been in my forties before, so obviously it’s all new to me but the idiot I’m with lacks understanding, my body is changing and I don’t have whole ovaries since i was in my twenties,they were partially removed during an ovarian cyst surgery.I’m ready to move on a live with a man in my life. There is no happiness here!

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Magnolia November 6, 2014 at 8:08 am

If you’re with someone who doesn’t honor you and lacks understanding, then yes. It’s time to move on. Wish you well.

Magnolia

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