Seldom will you find articles about a man’s point of view when it comes to menopause, but the male perspective, according to my husband, needs to be told. After all, men have to live with us throughout the ordeal (remember that part in your wedding vows about ‘for better or worse’?) and endure our hair-raising roller coaster ride of emotions. My husband strapped on that seat belt a long time ago and has ridden through some rough terrain with me over the past few years. When I was pregnant, he shared the experience with me through his own “phantom pregnancy.” As my belly expanded, so did his, along with every weird craving I had. If I ate Reuben sandwiches and orange sherbert for breakfast, so did he. When I was grouchy and crying over swollen ankles, he was miserable and swore that his ankles looked a bit swollen, too. Or at least that’s what he said when his socks got too tight. The same goes for when the jeans no longer fit. It had absolutely nothing to do with all that beer chilling in the fridge. Now that I have crested the hill of my youth and am peddling downward into the menopausal stage of life, guess who’s riding behind me on the two-seater? Just the other day I caught my husband jotting down the 800 number for hormone replacement therapy. The problem is, I don’t know if it was for my benefit or his.
Part of our shared moodiness and fatigue stems from lack of sleep, and I blame myself entirely for this. There is no such thing as a restful seven hours of shut-eye after turning 50. An over-active bladder and hot flashes rob me of this pleasure. My husband and I call it the “battle of the blankets” because all night long, we play tug-of-war with the sheets. I wake up sweating, which prompts me to use the bathroom, and once my feet hit the cold, tiled floor, I’m shivering like my house has been transformed into an igloo. Meanwhile, the bed sheets are still warm from my recent hot flash, which spreads warmth to my husband’s side of the bed. Now he’s the one having a pseudo hot flash, and he kicks off the sheet. I hop into bed, my teeth chattering, and yank three layers of covers over us. The unbearable heat wakes up my husband, who stumbles bleary-eyed into the bathroom. Just as I am beginning to dose off, I hear the toilet flush and realize there are beads of perspiration forming above my lip. After muttering a few choice words, I begin kicking wildly at the blankets that are tangled around my legs. “Get ’em off! Get ’em OFF!” My husband gawks at me. “What do you mean?” he asks. “It’s freezing in here!”
It has taken a while, but my husband has finally come to understand the mood swings of his menopausal wife. Sometimes it feels as if there is a loose connection between my mouth and my brain, which is when all hell breaks loose, and the insanity begins rolling off my tongue. “WHO THE HELL MOVED MY “CALM YOURSELF WITH YOGA” BOOK THREE INCHES OVER ON THE SHELF?” “DID YOU FORGET TO BUY THE CLUMPING CAT LITTER AGAIN? I’M NOT CLEANING UP THAT MESS!” “DID YOU EAT MY LEFTOVER KUNG PAO BEEF?!” No wonder there has been a steady increase in our bill from the liquor store.
My husband believes in the old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” because he has. While we share similar complaints about menopause and aging (weight gain, fatigue, brittle bones), he has certain issues that I (thankfully!) do not share. Things that only a man can understand. Like testicles. According to my husband, New Year’s Eve at Times Square isn’t the only time a ball drops. Once he turned 50, he was forced to walk bowlegged.
That’s not the only thing that has gotten bigger with age. My husband claims that his ears are larger (could have fooled me—his “selective hearing” is much worse) referring to his condition as the “Dumbo Syndrome.” He understands this is all part of the aging process, but this didn’t make him feel any better when he received a gold card membership offer from AARP.
My spouse has endured the manopause symptoms of hair loss, flatulence, and frequent chafing in unmentionable areas. Still, nothing chafes his dignity more than the car he drives. He believes a man in his 50’s should be driving a snazzy sports car, instead, he’s driving the minivan from hell— oxidized paint, missing hubcaps, broken door handles….circa 1999. The van seizes up at every stoplight and belches smoke if he punches the accelerator too quickly. It’s a babe magnet, all right. Well…maybe to a menopausal woman looking for her soulmate in a menopausal man.