Do you find it hard to talk to you partner about menopause?
Does it seem like they just don’t get it?
I had a really juicy conversation with a friend last week, we were talking about my business. How it came to be, what my plans are, what my vision is and why I feel it’s such an important time to be educating and supporting women in their midlife.
And yes, I was having a conversation with a man. But I can totally see that I could have had the same conversation with a younger woman who didn’t have midlife on her radar just yet. I’m pretty sure this could be an issue for any couple. So although I’m going to refer to men in my story below, if you’re in a same sex relationship with a younger woman, this may totally apply to you too.
Ok. On with it.
When they’re unsure how to help
Our conversation turned personal when he said that his wife was experiencing a few of the signs and symptoms that I’d mentioned and he was unsure how to support her. A little light bulb went off in my head and I said, “hey – here’s an idea… what if we created a workshop to help men support their loved ones through menopause!” He’s a life coach so we will definitely be workshopping this idea, because it’s a bloody good one – right!
This conversation stuck in my mind and as I reflected on the idea. I remembered a couple of times my husband really struggled to understand what I was going through and how to best support me.
The first was when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Luckily in this instance, BCNA had provided me with their booklet I wish I could fix it’: Supporting your partner through breast cancer which he found super helpful. But the situation was still very tough on him.
The second was having a really hard conversation with him after I’d gone through surgical/induced menopause (at 47 due to chemo & radiotherapy). This was because I had absolutely no desire to have sex. We went from having a regular healthy sex life. To… bam, nope, not interested mate, sorry. Seriously… an upper lip wax was way more appealing to me than sex!
And he really struggled to understand why. We muddled our way through me trying to explain hormones, vaginal dryness, fear of pain, exhaustion and quite simply, zero libido. And it’s taken some raw conversations, trial and error to find our groove again.
For reference, because of my cancer history, I’m unable to take HRT or any other natural remedies to help with this. My story does not have to be your story if you don’t have these contraindications. Talk to your GP or health professional for information and treatment options.
All of this oversharing is leading to how I hope to help if you are reading this today and wish that your partner found it easier to understand and support you.
How to talk to your partner
There are some really great resources available that you can share with your partner, I’ll link to some below. But most importantly keep the lines of communication open between you, maybe fine tune how you approach the topic with them. Remember that men’s brains are hardwired to fix things so could be their immediate go-to! And to use your “I” statements so they don’t feel attacked or ambushed.
You could try something like… “I want to talk to you about something that’s really important to me and I want you to not get caught up in trying to fix it with solutions. We can talk about that later, but right now, I really just want to be heard.“