Surviving the Couplepause
Welcome to my latest blog post. This week I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you a piece I wrote for Take a Break magazine on the subject of the COUPLEPAUSE. I explain how the menopause can affect both you and your partner and how you can work together to prevent it from ruining your relationship…
You’ve been with your other half for years, so you should feel more in love and stable than ever, right? Not quite.
In your 40s and 50s, your children are growing up, your parents are getting older and your career demands may be at a peak. Now throw in the menopause with its super whammy of hormonal changes and it may feel like you and your relationship are about to crumble.
The British Menopause Society have reported that menopausal symptoms cause a significant impact on relationships. Women have to battle with fluctuating and reducing levels of oestrogen and progesterone, and men also experience hormonal changes of declining testosterone at a similar time.
The COUPLEPAUSE is a term I use to describe the issues that some relationships can experience later in life. Both partners may have to find new ways to understand each other and live together as a result of this change.’
I have helped many couples affected by menopausal symptoms. So, how do you protect your relationship from needlessly suffering.
Understanding what is going on in your body in terms of hormones can be relief enough in itself. Many women report feeling as if they are ‘losing their minds’, which can be scary and is made worse through a lack of discussion with healthcare professionals, partners and a general lack of information.
It’s important to speak to your GP to learn what the symptoms are and how the menopause can impact your life – then relay this to your partner. He or she needs to understand it as well as you do and learning about it sooner rather than later can help make you more aware as a couple, therefore minimising the negative effects on your relationship.
It’s Good to Talk
Does it feel like there’s a build-up of negative sentiment between you and your partner? Do you feel uncomfortable discussing certain issues? Are you finding yourself frustrated and unable to handle situations involving your partner that would normally be easy to solve? Couplepause can test the strength of your bond but having a frank and open discussion can work wonders. You might choose to seek couple’s therapy for difficult issues, otherwise set a date to talk to your partner. Carefully drafting what you need to discuss may be your thing, a free-flow discussion over a glass of wine, or a mediated heart-to-heart with a professional; each case is individual.
Between the Sheets
Both women and men are likely to experience a change in libido. This along with some of the more intimate menopausal changes, such as vaginal dryness, mean certain routines may need to be altered. Take things slower and spend more time getting in the mood – massage is a good way of reintroducing intimacy.
Most importantly, you must communicate. If you aren’t open with your partner it can be difficult to trust them with the intimate issues that might be troubling you.
Hear your partner out, reserve judgement and try to treat the changes you make to your sexual routine as fun rather than a chore.
Taking up meditation and mindfulness can seriously help with mental well being, and problems such as hot flushes and poor sleep, which can cause irritability.
Spend some time reflecting and encourage your partner to do the same – it can often help you realise that the problem you were worrying about isn’t as insurmountable as you might have thought. Meditating or just being in the moment and stopping our minds wandering can reduce the strains of couplepause, including stress, anxiety and depression.
It Takes Two
Changing bodies can cause both women and men to suffer a confidence blow at this stage in life, which can have a negative impact on your relationship.
The middle-age spread is an unkind fact of life and both parties are likely to experience it. But by working together, you can combat this weight change, confidence knock and tiredness more effectively.
Consider exercising together and making dietary changes at a team. Spending valuable time together and learning what problems the other is experiencing will reduce resentment, embarrassment and vulnerability. Who knows, your relationship might turn out even stronger than it was before!
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image credit: Take a Break