“Menopause is like a hurricane – it’s dangerous and deadly!”
The dictated words of one man about life with his wife, as she was going through menopause.
When my husband began to relay his side of our menopause story, I was unprepared for the emotional roller coaster I had now embarked on. He refers to that time as my ‘black depression’. I knew things had got bad, as we had discussed this but I was shocked at the hurt and rejection I had been dishing out on my whole family, unknowingly.
As he dictates his recollection of events to me I try to remain distant, a third party, not affected by all this but in truth I am moved to tears. I have to keep stopping to recover my composure. Here is his statement:
“At the start of our married life, back in 1975, my wife was a gentle, loving and kind person, even though she was headstrong and strong willed. Going into menopause she seemed to take on a new persona; she seemed to see the world as an ugly place. She had no time for me, or our children. She resented all interruption to ‘her’ time and was bad tempered, argumentative, unloving, cold and hard hearted.
“I wanted to leave her; I even considered having an affair. Our love making was virtually non-existent and every effort I made to approach her was treated with a cold, unloving response. I was sleeping with a stranger. There was no common ground for conversation or discussion. I started to drink more and stay longer hours at work; it is our own business that we built together and Kathryn no longer had any interest in it and greeted any news of that business with distaste and anger.
“I wanted to leave her and take our youngest daughter (now 16) with me because I now considered Kathryn a bad mother. Nothing was right for her and I couldn’t bear to watch our young daughter suffer like this; taking the full blast of her mother’s volatile temper.
“I call it her ‘black period’; we were so close to divorcing on more than one occasion. Some days she came back to us as she used to be but it didn’t last long and she descended into this hateful, venomous witch, once again.
“I love my wife but it really hurts me to see the changes she’s gone through. She’s out of the ‘black period’ now. She’s obviously a very happy and well person, with new energy but she’s not the same; she’s changed in many ways but our love life hasn’t fully recovered, either. She is more loving again, now and is much more social than she used to be (we’d stopped going out ~ she always made up some excuse why she wouldn’t attend any social function ~ often having headaches).”
I have spoken to a number of men since and also to my husband again – he has a way with words! I’ve edited out the f-ing and blinding, or perhaps I should have left all his own words in because it did add a sense of humour to the whole thing.
These words reflect what many men have told me…
“My wife’s menopause was a time in my life I would prefer to put into some dark corner cupboard, lock it up and throw away the key. It was just too painful”
“Advice for other men? Get a girlfriend! (laughing J). No, really, it is very difficult to give concrete advice to men who don’t understand it (menopause). You have to learn as you go. It’s about communication on both sides.”
“The perpetrator is the female because she won’t open up about her own feelings. She won’t say what’s really going on and I just don’t get that.”
“The safety valve, for me, was the children. I didn’t want to make radical decisions because of the effect it would have on them.”
“What I felt like doing was walking out! I was not happy at home.”
“I could see the whole family was suffering and I just didn’t know what to do. I started to stay at work longer because I couldn’t stand to go home. It relieved the pressure, for me, to stay out of the house.”
“The thoughts that go on inside your mind are unbelievable. You feel someone is forcing you to do something you don’t really want to do and these include finding love in the arms of someone else, divorce, just walking out. But you know, deep down that your relationship means more to you than doing any of these things. I think you both need to talk to each other more and stop shouting and blaming each other for stuff, stop dragging up the past. Who cares about the past? We’re trying to get through today.”
Now this all may sound a bit bleak but the thing to take away here is that it can be got through and that talking and listening to each other is the key starting point to understanding and resolution.
If you have experiences you think may help others, and you would like to share, you can pop them into a comment or head over to the Contact Me Page.