Have you been experiencing mood swings during perimenopause and menopause? Then you know how challenging they can be. But they are not only affecting you; your partner and family may be sharing some of this journey with you. How can you help your family members understand what it’s like to experience changing moods in menopause?
Your moods, your menopause, your family
In a 2019 study, researchers gathered information from 450 men about their attitudes and perceptions toward menopause and their partners. The men were asked about hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights, low libido, mood swings, pain during sex, vaginal dryness, and difficulty sleeping.
The symptoms men most were aware of included difficulty sleeping and lack of energy. Sixty-three percent of the men said they were affected by their partner’s symptoms, and 77 percent said they were negatively impacted by them. More than half (56%) said the symptoms had a negative effect on their relationship. However, 72 percent of men said they discussed menopause and symptoms with their partners.
Not all men are comfortable talking about menopause with their partners, however, and even those who do may not always know how to approach the subject or know what to say. Here are a few tips on how you can get your partners to better understand mood swings and other menopausal symptoms.
- Ask for a sit-down. Take time for the two of you to discuss how you feel and the moods you have been going through. If there are children or other family members involved, you may want to have a separate sit down with them. Ask your partner and others how they feel and if they have any questions. Once everyone has a better understanding of the impact of hormonal changes and knows they can help by working together, it can make this transitional time easier for everyone.
- Ask for help. Think about some of the things that might help you better handle your mood swings and how your partner may help make them possible. Perhaps you need 30 minutes of alone time every day for meditation or just time away. Maybe you would like to share some of the chores so you can be relieved of some stress. If there are children or grandchildren in the house, perhaps you alone or you and your partner need a designated date night or other time away.
- Exercise together. Physical activities, especially those that you can enjoy with others such as walking, tennis, dancing, biking, jogging, and golf not only lift your mood but build stronger relationships. You might join a fitness club together or take yoga or spinning classes together.
- Get technical. This tip may not work for everyone, but some people enjoy knowing how things work and why. Turn your partner and other willing family members onto the scientific research behind mood swings and menopause.
- Tell them it isn’t personal. When you experience mood swings, your partner and family members may take it personally. This is a normal response, but it is important to emphasize that your irritability, inability to think straight, or annoyance isn’t directed at them. This step can be challenging, but working at it can take a lot of stress off of everyone involved.
- Ask for help with healthier eating. Adopting a more nutritious eating plan that helps keep hormones in balance can improve mood swings. Foods that support hormone balance include fresh fruits and vegetables, cold-water fish (for omega-3s), seeds (especially pumpkin, sesame, flaxseed, and sunflower), beans, legumes, and nuts. Processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, salty foods, sugar, and animal protein can disrupt hormone balance.
- Get professional help. Sometimes it helps to talk with a trained third party. If you and your partner are finding it difficult to work through these emotional times, then a therapist or counselor may help.
Menopause can be associated with a wide variety of symptoms, and mood swings can be one of the more challenging ones for women and their partners and family members to navigate. Communication is key to working through these times, and other cooperative efforts can make it a more pleasant time for all.