The Menopause hum began years ago when you started paying attention to your mom and her friends whispering about periods stopping, mood swings, acquaintances getting into hysterics… It was very hush hush, mixed with commiserating, knowing looks and an air of mystery, a zest of goriness (blood was involved) and mostly your mom’s blues.
Your dad was always consulting the latest books [wpdevart_like_box profile_id=”” connections=”6″ width=”300″ height=”550″ header=”0″ locale=”en_US”]about the MENOPAUSE phenomena. It was so intriguing you ended up reading one of those sacrosanct books. Surfing between too many technical and medical terms you manage finally to get a somehow confused idea about the “dreaded curse of womanhood”: At a “certain” age a woman’s period stops and she becomes depressive”. You don’t understand why anyone would get depressive if the “curse of the month” stops!!! Isn’t everybody complaining about the pain, the cramps, the mess, and the whole process every time a woman/girl gets her period! As any teenager, your curiosity wanes and you classify the whole concept as one of those bizarre and absurd things adults love to complicate without any reason.
Now that you’re older and…wiser, YOU UNDERSTAND! Too much. Yes it was messy and painful but you never knew the extent of this curse back then. You were too young to understand that what these women lost went beyond the physical pain. Why? Because it was the first manifestation of their mortality. We live as if we were immortal until one day we get a wake up call that goes beyond the death of dear ones. It dawns on us that it doesn’t happen only to others. It’s our own death that we see looming in the horizon. Doesn’t middle age mean half or more of what’s left of our age lapse?
Let’s get back to your family. Your mom understands you better than anyone and cynically -or is it bitterly-? She welcomes you to the club. Older friends are also there to support you. You’re relieved: Others have been through it and have survived the period of gloom and some of them seem even happier now.
What about our better halves, our dear husbands? I think that they fall into 2 categories:
- The compassionate, solicitous, over- understanding ones who read all the books related to this “condition” and whose behavior changes drastically. They show considerable restraint whenever you’re angry or in a dark mood, making you angrier because you can’t shriek at the poor dear who’s obviously making such an effort. You try to forget about middle age but you have a constant reminder from this new version of a husband. You’d have appreciated him much more if he’d exercised his psychological talents when you were struggling between your job and the kids.
- The dismissive ones who chose to ignore what you’re going through either because it reminds them that they are also facing middle age and are in a constant state of denial or because they think that if they don’t acknowledge the issue it would disappear eventually. Secretly they are relieved it only happens to women. Don’t you dare talk about andropause; few men have heard about it or want to hear about it. Any decrease in libido or in testosterone is a “no man’s land, no pun intended.
As for the kids, the girls who already find their moms at their best very irritating, try to hide their feelings at first then revert to their usual behavior.
Boys avoid any conversation with sisters or moms, cringing every time words like period, PMS, moods, hormones and more horrific ones like “blood” creep into a discussion or are overheard. It’s too much info for them and none of their concern. If any sister spitefully highlights that they’ll have to face the music sometime with their girlfriends or wives, the reaction is life threatening. Since when are men expected to face any feminine “hazard” if they are not forced to do so on the spot?
It’s funny. When I read the title of your article, I thought I’ll keep this one for later and read it when I had the time to give it a measure of attention. On reading it, I realized that menopause, along with anything related to the mysteries of womanhood, was always a subject that I thought – like most men – I knew and understood clinically. That was enough. The emotional and psychological aspects, and their impact on their surroundings – husbands, boyfriends, family, colleagues, etc. – was just collateral damage we had to endure. And as you mentioned, we range from over-sympathetic, to dismissive. in our reactions to it
I grew up with an open-minded mother and two sisters. I had my fair share of exposure to women, was married, and have many close women-friends. And even though we talk openly, we never really discuss the details of menopause. At best, I will know that they are going through it.
I hope that your article is a start of a trend. A movement, an awareness and a conversation where we (men) are invited to understand, to discuss and to share in an event that has such an impact on a woman’s life. Even if that interaction is a confirmation that “this is private. Please leave me alone!”. At least, it would eliminate the mystery, and at best, it will bring to the surface a discussion that has no reason to be in the closet.
Thank you for your lengthy answer. I am glad you like the post and appreciate the insights from a man’s point of view. My aim is to open up about taboos especially those related to women. It’s time to share important events that impact and change our lives. Communication makes life so much easier