Your marriage, your menopause, your role
Author: Margaret Yates
As menopause is often a difficult time for many women, it can put a lot of pressure on your relationship. In this article we explore your role in what’s happening in your marriage and what you can do about it.
My previous article “Is the menopause responsible for your divorce?“, looked at whether menopause symptoms may be causing you or your partner to seriously think about divorce or separation.
I talked about why the menopause and divorce often go hand in hand. I set out some questions to help you think things through and consider whether it was in fact the menopause symptoms that were likely to be causing the problems, or whether the marriage had run its course.
You may have found that you attributed blame to your partner. Or maybe you blamed yourself for the way the marriage was falling apart.
What is your role in the situation you’re in?
Whether you feel it’s your partner who isn’t co-operating and being understanding at this time or whether you know that you are behaving irrationally, there are steps you can take to reframe what’s going on, to look at things in a different way.
First of all, no matter how difficult your partner is, you contribute in some way to the problems you’re facing within the marriage or partnership. This is not an easy pill to swallow, but it will help you enormously if you understand that you and only you are responsible for your own actions.
You cannot control the actions of someone else. You can only control your actions and how you react towards other people’s actions.
This doesn’t mean you should blame yourself or feel guilty about your behaviour. Recognising that you are in control of how you behave can really empower you to do something about it.
Reacting differently, in a positive way, will not only help you feel better about yourself, but also it’s likely your partner will feel the change in energy and react positively too.
Secondly, if you know that your behaviour has changed, that you’re more emotional than you used to be. You fly off the handle easily. You’ve gone off sex and you don’t want to be touched any more. But despite all this, deep down you know that you still love your partner. You don’t want to lose them, but you fear you are driving them away. Don’t bury your head in the sand. It’s quite possible these are menopausal symptoms, and if you recognise that your behaviour has radically changed, then it’s a good idea to get checked out by your GP in any event.
Remember, you are not alone. Just as every woman goes through puberty, every woman will go through the menopause. It’s a fact of nature. It’s how you deal with it that counts.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone
There’s that saying “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”.
Really reflect on this. Close your eyes (if it’s safe to do so) take a couple of deep breaths and think about how you would rate the state of your marriage at this point in time. On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being low, 10 being high) which point are you at on the scale? And if it’s below 10, what would it take, what would need to happen to make it a big fat 10?
If you find yourself thinking about how you could move it up to 10, then work on it. Really think about what you would be feeling, what you would be hearing and what you would be doing if you are at point 10 on the scale.
If you simply can’t think of anything that would need to happen to move your score to 10, that’s ok. Take a moment to think about what it would be like to end the marriage, what would you would be feeling if you were single gain, what would you be hearing, what would you be doing?
In both cases, before you take any final action, find a trusted person with whom you can talk things through to get some perspective on your situation. Because we all have a habit of blowing things out of proportion due to the way our brain is wired. It’s a bit like the media! It dwells mainly on the negative with only a small dose of the positive getting through!
Your next steps
If you’ve reached the conclusion that you want your marriage or partnership to continue, it’s not too late.
If you want stay…
Speak to your partner, let them know how you feel. Ask them how they feel. Face these challenges together. You’re a team and you both want the same result – to be happy and enjoy each other and life together again.
If you think you’ll find it difficult to start the conversation, get some help. Relate, The Relationship People, www.relate.org.uk has an online service and also local centres where you can speak with someone about your relationship issues and how you can start communicating with your partner.
Both you and your partner can attend counselling appointments together if you both wish, and you can talk things through with a counsellor.
If you recognise that it’s likely to be the menopause symptoms that are the cause of your behaviour, there are many services and products that can help you tame those symptoms and get them under control. Your GP, homeopathy, auricular acupuncture are some that spring to mind.
If you want to leave…
If you’ve decided enough is enough and want to divorce; no matter how hard your tried you couldn’t raise the score above to a 10, your next step is to find someone who you can trust to talk things through and get clear on what your options are.
If you get clarity on your position, you’ll feel in control and be able to move forward, feeling more confident about the outcome.
About the Author
Margaret Yates survived a traumatic divorce herself, trained as a family lawyer and subsequently became a life coach and Master NLP practitioner. Her mission is to help you step back and think before you take the final step of ending your marriage or partnership. And if you decide that divorce or separation is the way forward, to support you through the process. You can find out more about how Margaret helps couples at www.zen-divorce.co.uk