If you have a partner going through menopause chances are you’ve seen some changes in them both physically and mentally. From the dreaded hot flushes to a libido that ebbs and flows, to a teary partner, you may be wondering how to best support your partner. What to say and not say, and how to get through menopause together.
The last thing you want is to stop talking and watch as your relationship deteriorates in front of your eyes. But with over 60% of divorces being initiated by women aged between 40 and 60, menopause can be a difficult time for your marriage for both you and your partner. Many men think of menopause as something to fear, but women who have a supportive partner often have a smoother transition through menopause, so here are 10 ways you can support a partner who is going through menopause.
1. Educate yourself
Learn about menopause symptoms, understand, and empathize. The more you know about why your partner is feeling hot, a bit teary, and low, the better you will be able to talk to them and be supportive. Many women feel completely detached from their lives and loved ones, which means love and support are more important than ever. By being compassionate and validating your partner’s experience, rather than trying to ‘fix’ them, you’ll find your relationship will strengthen during this difficult time.
Common symptoms of menopause are:
- Hot flashes
- Memory loss
- Night sweats
- Low mood and anxiety
- Vaginal dryness caused by the thinning of the vaginal wall
- Reduced sex drive
- Hair thinning
- Weight gain
2. Keep communication open
Avoid building up resentment with your partner by keeping the lines of communication open so you can learn more about your partner's needs, whilst highlighting your own in a tactful manner. As important as it is to support your partner, mind you don’t neglect your own emotional needs.
3. Offer support
Your partner is going through it - so although they may be more difficult than usual know that this is the ever-changing hormones and stress their body is under. Ask your partner what they need, especially if there is a physical or emotional struggle; you are not a mind reader so gently ask if there is anything you can do to help. Whether it’s running a relaxing bath, making a cup of tea, listening or buying her favorite biscuits, these are all ways to show your love and support.
Sometimes all it takes is asking, so don’t be afraid to ask how you can best support your partner. Whilst emotional support is key, practical help can also relieve some of the stresses of menopause. Ask if there are any specific tasks you can help with if your partner is experiencing fatigue and maybe offer to do more around the house. That way you know exactly how to help, and it takes some of the guesswork out of it.
4. Adjust your expectations
You might be used to having sex multiple times a week, but with the ever-changing estrogen levels, your partner’s libido is likely to take a nosedive. Your partner is going through a major milestone in their life, so manage your expectations because they may change monthly, weekly, and even daily. Instead, try getting intimate in other ways - cuddle, hold hands, enjoy an intimate dinner - there are plenty of ways to feel intimate without sex. And, when you are both in the mood for a night of romance, your sex doesn’t have to suffer as you can still enjoy great sex regardless of menopause.
5. Reduce friction
This can be both physical and emotional. Adding lubrication or a bendable vibrator can help with arousal and increasing blood flow, adding this to your sexual routine can be a complete game-changer for the physical side of your relationship. Whilst emotional friction may be caused by mood swings and persistent low moods, it is important to recognize that fluctuating hormone levels are likely the cause.
6. Don’t call attention to menopausal symptoms
Is there anything worse than someone pointing out your bad mood? Alongside being rather annoying, it can also cause long-term relationship problems. If your partner feels the need to hide the symptoms and bury them down, resentment could build up leading to severed communication lines. Whilst there may be a few symptoms that make your partner feel self-conscious, such as weight gain and hair thinning, it’s best to avoid pointing this out as it won’t make anyone feel good.
7. Make them feel great
Be romantic. Bring them flowers without occasion, make dinner, try a romantic date night or even a sensual massage. Your gestures can be as small or as big as you like - you know your partner better than anyone; do the things that put a smile on their face and watch as they shine from the inside out. You know the best way to make them feel appreciated and boost the feel-good hormones she is craving.
8. Get the support you need
Just as you don’t understand what it is like to go through menopause, they don’t understand what it’s like to be the partner of someone going through menopause. If you need to blow off some steam by talking to a supportive friend or family member, then do just that. Don’t neglect your own emotional needs because you are supporting someone else.
It is also important to support your partner in seeking additional support. Whether that is a doctor, therapist, sex therapist or support group, menopause could bring up complicated emotions and a supportive partner isn’t necessarily the one who carries the entire emotional load.
9. Get healthy together
Small lifestyle changes might be just what your partner needs to help ease the menopausal symptoms - and the best way to support this and make them feel like they are not alone is to get on board. Regardless of whether you actually like being healthy, you could strive to support healthy eating, join them on a walk and help cook balanced meals. Show your partner you are in it together!
10. Remember it’s not forever
Menopause can seem never-ending, but take comfort in knowing things do get better. Symptoms ease and your partner will eventually start feeling like themselves again. Come out the other side stronger by keeping open lines of communication at the heart of your relationship. Menopause has its own agenda entirely - how long menopause lasts is as unique as your fingerprint. This means you don’t have an end date, but know there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t be afraid to seek further support from a health professional on how to best support your partner through menopause.