Navigating menopause: How to create better relationships

Laina Makuzha LOVE by DESIGN

When things are not going well in relationships, or when one partners seems to have dropped the ball, it helps to identify the root of the problem and deal with it. 

Sometimes however, individuals have been known to site such things as headaches, fatigue, workload, studies and more, meanwhile the truth is they are just not making an effort to meet their partner halfway on the required task at hand.

However, one often misunderstood aspect that tends to have genuine effects on certain areas of marriage, especially when decades have gone past middle age, is menopause. 

I was inspired to touch on it this week for those couples who have been asking about it due to puzzling changes in their marriages.

I’ve noted that lack of knowledge can cast a shadow over even the most loving relationships. As couples embark on the voyage through menopause, they often find themselves navigating uncharted waters. The physical and emotional changes that accompany this natural phase can blindside partners, leaving them bewildered and strained. 

But there’s the beacon of hope: information knowledge is the compass that can guide them through the storm. When couples understand menopause, its symptoms, and impact, they can weather the challenges together. Instead of pointing fingers, judging harshly or being at each other’s throat, informed partners rather preserve their marriage, enrich their bond and emerge stronger and more connected. 

So let’s shed light on this transformative journey which can happen to anyone as years go by, dispel myths, and embrace the power of understanding. Menopause is a natural and inevitable phase in – more commonly – women’s lives. We shall not delve into the myth or reality of male menopause in this article, although some men have been known to experience testosterone decline with age, with symptoms that include fatigue, mood changes, and decreased sex drive.

Experts say as women transition from their reproductive years to post-menopause, they experience physical, emotional, and psychological changes. Some changes can even begin in a period considered as perimenopause, which means “around menopause” and which refers to as “the time during which the woman’s body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years. Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition. Women start perimenopause at different ages”.

These changes, at whatever stage of the menopause, can significantly impact relationships, including marriages, so I thought of exploring the effects of menopause on couples, finding practical advice for partners, and shedding light on how marriages can thrive during this transformative time.

The menopausal journey

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although individual experiences vary and some women as young as 32 -35 have experienced some perimenopausal  changes. It marks the end of menstrual cycles due to declining estrogen and progesterone levels. 

Hot flashes: Intense heat sensations, often accompanied by sweating and rapid heartbeat.

Mood swings: Emotional fluctuations, including irritability, anxiety, and sadness.

Sleep disturbances: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns.

Weight changes: Hormonal shifts can affect metabolism and lead to weight gain.

Bone health: Reduced estrogen is known to also increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Impact on marriages

Communication challenges

Menopause can strain communication between partners. Women may feel overwhelmed by physical symptoms, affecting their emotional well-being. Partners must actively listen, express empathy, and validate each other’s experiences.

Intimacy and sexuality

Some physical changes and decreased libido can disrupt intimacy. Open conversations about desires, preferences, and emotional connection are crucial. Experimenting with new ways to express affection can rekindle passion as opposed to negative assumptions that result in squabbles.

Emotional rollercoaster

Mood swings during menopause can create tension. Partners of women going through that experience will need patience, compassion, and understanding. Recognise that irritability or sadness may not reflect personal feelings toward the partner.

Coping strategies

Education: Learn about menopause together. Read reputable sources or even attend workshops by experts, to understand the physical and emotional changes.

Seek professional help: Though not necessarily common in our part of the world, or in some cultures,  couples therapy provides a safe space to discuss challenges. Therapists and counsellors can guide communication and coping strategies.

Self-care: Self-care routines are uplifting. Exercise, meditation, and hobbies promote well-being.

Flexibility: As a spouse, adapt to changing needs. Be patient if plans with your partner nave to change due to symptoms.

Support: Society must better support menopausal women, as they go through that phase of uncertainty, bodily changes, multiple health challenges in some cases, pain and even fear of the unknown. Open communication to gain understanding and empathy are essential, as opposed to the unpleasant name calling and ridicule that I have observed in some spaces.

Remember, menopause is a shared experience. Partners who navigate it together with empathy and resilience can emerge with a stronger bond. Your marriage can thrive even amidst hormonal shifts.

I  invite you to share your experiences and insights and observations. Equipped with more knowledge on this subject as we share and exchange information, it stops being a dreaded topic to discuss,  nor is it something for women to be ashamed of. In so doing we empower one another and might all find someone to support or do better ourselves in creating glorious and graceful relationships.

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