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How to Support Your Partner During Menopause

Menopause & Relationships: How to Support Your Partner

Menopause is a significant life transition that doesn’t only affect the woman experiencing it but also has a profound impact on those around her, including partners, colleagues, friends, and family members. Unfortunately, many women and those surrounding them lack adequate education about menopause, leading to misunderstandings and challenges. This article aims to shed light on how partners, in particular, can better understand and support someone going through menopause. However, the strategies discussed here can apply to anyone who knows a woman undergoing this transition. By gaining knowledge about what to expect and learning effective communication tips, relationships can become stronger and more supportive during this phase.

What Menopause Symptoms Do Women Experience?

The first phase of menopause, called perimenopause, usually starts between 45 and 55. Menopause marks the date at which a woman has not had her period for 12 consecutive months. Symptoms can manifest themselves during perimenopause and post menopause and often they can change over time. There are over 40 symptoms, but the most common ones include: 

  • Periods: Irregular, changing flow, and then the elimination of periods
  • Vasomotor symptoms: Hot flashes, night sweats, chills
  • Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM):  vaginal dryness and irritation, pain during sex, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and frequent urination
  • Lowered libido and pain during sex
  • General fatigue 
  • Sleep problems
  • Psychological symptoms – spikes in anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and mood swings
  • Joint pain
  • Weight gain, especially around the middle, and overall slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and dry skin

These changes can have a profound impact on a woman’s body and mind, making them potentially feel less confident, lose their sense of identity, and even question their femininity and attractiveness. There are both actions you can take, as well as ways in which you can better connect and relate to your partner during menopause, that we’ll dive into more deeply.

What Steps Can You Take to Help Your Partner in Menopause?

Below are some tips on things you can actively do to better support your partner. 

  • Be patient. This is the most critical – give her time to figure out what’s happening with her body and what care and support she needs. Your partner may experience a gamut of emotions from sadness to anger, to rage. Give her space and exercise as much patience as possible.
  • Get educated. The more you know about menopause, the better able you are to understand and relate to her. Show interest and understanding.
  • Foster open communication. Ask questions and follow up to see how she’s doing. See more below about how to be an empathetic supporter.
  • Eat healthfully. Find nutritious recipes, help with the grocery shopping, and either cook for her, or do so jointly. Healthy eating is so much easier with a partner.
  • Help her with sleep. Solid sleep is one of the biggest struggles during menopause. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, use light covers and layers, and have fans available. Perhaps the two of you can follow a bedtime routine together to relax, get away from your devices, and get into sleep mode.
  • Participate in constructive activities together. This is a great time for you and your partner to find exercise or mindfulness routines that you can do together that are helpful during mid-life like yoga, meditation, or strength training. New routines are more fun and easier to follow when someone else is partnering with you and helping you be accountable. These practices will benefit both of you as you age and your bodies change.
  • Encourage her to seek help and practice self-care. Urge your partner to visit her doctor to ensure she gets the right medical care and external support to help her manage the transition positively. Suggest that she does things to destress and find joy – a massage, a pedicure, a hike outside – whatever it is that she does to practice self-care.

Relating to Your Partner in Menopause & Being an Empathetic Supporter

Knowing how to be there for your partner and making her feel loved and cared for will bring you two closer together and establish a stronger bond. Some specific suggestions include:

  • Ask her directly how you can support her. If you don’t know, it’s best to ask how you can help or what she is looking for in your communication, as every woman has different needs. Your partner may just want to vent – so let her. Often, she is not looking for you to solve her problems or offer advice. If she wants advice or perspective, certainly provide it!
  • Be an active listener. Give your partner your full attention, with eye contact. Tell her you’d like to hear as many details about what she’s going through as she wants to share. Ask questions to show interest and summarize what you’ve heard to indicate understanding.
  • Validate her feelings. Ensure she knows that you’ve heard her, you know that what she is going through is challenging, and she has a right to feel the way she does – even if this changes from moment to moment!
  • Show her respect. Don’t diminish what she thinks might be a big deal, as everyone processes things differently.
  • Demonstrate appreciation. Thank her for what she does for you, your family, and her work. Simple acknowledgment and appreciation of her efforts go a long way.
  • Do acts of service. Your partner can feel overwhelmed during this time, so anything you can do to take things off her plate and ease her stress will be appreciated. 
  • Help boost her ego. Women can often feel old and unattractive during this time. Actively reaffirming your partner’s worth, beauty, and desirability can go a long way. 
  • Express your love. Tell her “I love you” often – these words are never said too often. Offer affection – hugs, kisses, and physical touch. Romantic gestures are always appreciated, whether it be a note, text message, or planning an evening out to demonstrate that you are proactively thinking about her and your relationship. 
  • Change up your sex life. She may want sex less or more often; sometimes sex can become painful during menopause, or her libido may change. Try to be patient and accommodating and know that it’s not that she doesn’t still find you attractive. Be open to new positions, using lubricants to help with vaginal dryness, or other ways of stimulating and satisfying each other. And great sex usually starts with connectedness. 
  • Reinforce that you are there to support her. Her world may feel like it’s going haywire, and you can provide the steady reassurance that you are there for her no matter what. 

How You Can Keep Your Cool!

You are probably thinking…well, what about me?! Yes, a partner’s menopause can be difficult for you too. Some tips to stay sane during this time include:

  • Don’t take it personally. Try not to take reactions and behaviors personally. Whether it be the mood swings or her interest in sex, it does not reflect how much she loves you or how attractive she finds you.
  • Cool off. Take a break if you’re getting frustrated and your patience is thin. Go on a walk, read a book, or watch a show – anything to take you away from a potentially heated situation getting worse.
  • Spend time with your other friends:  As much as being present for your partner is important, you also both need time away with your own friends. Likewise, encourage her to spend time with her female friends who may understand what she is going through.

Menopause can be a challenging time for both the woman experiencing it, as well as her partner. Remember that it’s not forever. Hopefully, your partner can get help managing her symptoms, and they will decrease over time. This is an opportunity to take your relationship to an even deeper level, reinforce your trust and love of each other, and build a future together!

If you have any questions or want to work with Menowar on a customized menopause plan for you, schedule a free consultation here.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.