As bad as I feel for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause, my heart goes out even more to the men who have to live with them while they endure “the change of life.” When my husband and I exchanged wedding vows 35 years ago, neither one of us had any idea that I would one day morph into the Tasmanian Devil at the onset of menopause. Most of the time, I don’t even recognize myself. I have to give the guy credit for sticking by my side as long as he has.
Despite the changes of menopause, my husband has learned to go with my emotional flow that’s as unpredictable as a summer hurricane. When I pressed him for details about the changes, he was happy to share what he has witnessed lately in order to enlighten other men who may be living with menopausal women:
1. She once had the energy of a toddler after too many cups of Kool-Aid. But these days, sleep is her priority…even over sex and chocolate. She’d stay under the covers all week if I let her. But someone has to cook a meal every now and then…..unless the family doesn’t mind the gastrointestinal apocalypse that would occur if I did the cooking.
2. When she’s not in bear hibernation mode, my wife is a creature of the night. Insomnia often robs her of a decent night’s rest, but rather than squeeze in some valuable writing time, she prefers to stalk Pinterest recipes or shop on Amazon for decorative pillows. How many pillows does one person need? The good news is that I no longer need an alarm system for the house. While I’m snoring in the bedroom, my better half is will be wide awake and will release a blood-curdling scream if anyone tries to break into our home.
3. There isn’t a man on the planet who doesn’t live in fear of the dreaded question, “Do these pants make me look fat?” The first year my wife started menopause, we went through four different scales because she was convinced they were all inaccurate. Her pension for chocolate and pizza had nothing to do with her weight gain. At least she can blame menopause for her extra pounds. The only excuse I have is beer.
4. We always “spooned” when we went to bed together. It was comforting to feel her body pressed against mine each night before falling asleep. Now that she has night sweats, if I try to cuddle up to her, I’ll likely lose a limb.
5. Dear God, the pendulum mood swings. If I survive these, I can survive anything. Forget Jekyll and Hyde. I’m living with Donna Reed and Attila the Hun. To say that my wife is “a little on edge” is an understatement. If I leave so much as a dirty coffee cup on the counter, her patience level will snap in a nanosecond, and I’ll find myself fighting for space on the dog’s bed each night.
6. Ever since the hot flashes started, my wife has become a thermostat Nazi. When I come home from work, I feel as if I’ve been magically transported to Alaska. It wouldn’t surprise me if I came home one day to find icicles hanging from the ceiling.
7. We have always been a passionate couple, but after menopause struck, her sex drive plummeted. I’m not the virile youngster I once was, either, but nowadays, in order to get things heated in the bedroom, she needs a gallon of wine, and I need the Jaws of Life.
8. Forgetfulness comes with age, but menopause can make a woman senile. My wife was one of the most organized people I knew, to the point of being OCD about the house and our family routine. I depended on her to keep us scheduled and sane. If all of it were left up to me, the kids would have gone to school late in their bedroom slippers and have nothing but corn chips in their lunch boxes. Along came menopause, sucking every organizational cell from my wife’s body, leaving me with a pod person who’s suffering from constant brain fog. Car keys in the fridge. Water bubbling over on the stove. Dog poop on the carpet because SOMEONE forgot to take the furballs out for a walk.
I think it’s time to book a room for my wife at the Forget-Me-Not Manor for Senile Seniors. Better yet, I’ll take the room for myself, because no one will yell at me for leaving a dirty coffee cup on the counter. And hopefully, I’ll get to keep all of my limbs.