Our guest columnist is Lisa Bradford, RN, wellness coach for the Baptist Health 4her program.
When women are experiencing the hot flashes, mood swings and other challenges of menopause, their partners may not know how to provide support. Though many people want to be there for their partners, they often feel clueless about how to do so. In fact, a common complaint we hear is, “I feel helpless and don’t know what to say or do.”
Partners of women going through menopause should remember that decreasing hormone levels may result in mixed and/or negative emotions. The physical changes women endure may cause tiredness, weakness and forgetfulness. Women in menopause may also feel sad or angry about entering this new stage of life.
During this process, partners may be spending more time together than they have in years, especially if their children have left home or an aging parent has passed away and no longer needs care.
It is the beginning of your “next phase” as a couple, and the great thing is that you can make it a very rich and rewarding time in your lives. Fine-tuning your relationship skills and being willing to weather the changes menopause brings are key during this time.
7 tips to support a partner in menopause
- Educate yourself. Learn everything you possibly can about the menopausal process and common changes or experiences. Once you understand that mood swings and hot flashes are typical and not the result of anything you are doing, you can relax about the ups and downs.
- Talk, even if communication doesn't come naturally. If you tell her you want to be helpful, then your menopausal partner will, at least, know you are on her side. If you are already a good communicator, tell her you can see that menopause is not for the faint of heart, and ask her, “What’s the best thing I can do to help you get through this?”
- Be patient. Patience is vital in both the short and long term. Cutting her some slack when she seems sad or angry will go a long way.
- Don’t personalize her moods. If your partner gets upset, don’t make it about yourself. She can be angry, sad or frustrated, and you can just listen.
- Offer to help. By doing the dishes or cleaning up the living room, you can help ease a hectic schedule. Do whatever you can to keep her from feeling overwhelmed.
- Help her get the sleep she needs. Insomnia is very common during menopause, so if you are a snorer, find a way to prevent waking her up. A good night’s sleep will help her mood tremendously.
- Support her health. It’s easier to get started on an exercise plan if you have company. Offer to take nightly walks together or bike ride around the neighborhood. It can become a healthy routine that you both feel good about. Also, implementing healthy food and drink choices will help with the menopausal side effects.
Remember that menopause, while it may seem eternal, is temporary. Just like during adolescence, the hormonal peaks and troughs will level out and peace and harmony will return.
The Baptist Health 4her program is a unique collection of wellness resources for women of all ages. You can book a health coaching session with Lisa Bradford to talk one-on-one about your health, including how to navigate life changes such as menopause, by calling 904.202.4HER or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.