How to Make the Most of Menopause, Together

Hot flashes. Mood swings. Depression. Memory Loss. Vaginal dryness. Loss of libido. Bladder problems. At first glance, menopause may seem like an awful, overwhelmingly negative life change.

Yet despite the laundry list of negatives, there are positive compensations that occur with this mid-life crisis. As your body and mind transforms in relation to your hormonal changes, you can become the person you once were and, more importantly, the true person you are meant to be, along with your male partner.

Positive Hormonal Shifts

The hormones that effect your emotions diminish as you go through menopause. You now have an opportunity to gradually transition into a more individuated adult. In a way, by losing estrogen yet maintaining androgen, you become more of who you were meant to be.

While, at this stage of life, your spouse may soften with the loss of testosterone, you become more powerful: the softening veil of estrogen lifts, your stronger self emerges, and formerly suppressed, creative feelings resurface.

Changing Relationships

Of course, this transformation – in both men and women – can deeply affect relationships. However, the pain of these changes and fear of the unknown does not have to translate into suffering.

Attitude is everything. If you don’t contract against the pain, but surrender to it, you will transition into a renewed and deeper relationship. By communicating honestly about these changes, you and your partner can meet them together. The two of you become a home team by confronting the past, present, and future, bravely.

Deeper, More Honest Communication

Your maturity can work for you now, by allowing you to risk communicating your deepest and most intimate feelings. Honest communication is essential to your relationship at this time. Silent suffering only uses up libido. Women who deny their repressed feelings and undiscovered parts of themselves often get sick from the stress of that repression.

Stepping Into a New Role

What happens to you in menopause is that a certain wisdom comes forward: you say goodbye and grieve the young woman you were, to then step into the role of wise woman. As a menopausal woman, you have the opportunity to find your passion, to be freed up, to explore your sexuality, and to leave your mark on the future.

Strengthening and Renewing Your Relationship

When I was first married, my husband gave me a poster that read:

Don’t walk behind me.
Don’t walk in front of me.
But hold my hand, and walk by my side.

That’s the mutuality that can be born in menopause; a time when you know who you are and are mature enough to surrender to what you are going to be. Audacious relationships can grow together, but it requires honesty and updating. Only then, can couples know what it means to be validated and valued in relationship; to be validated and valued are the qualities necessary for renewal.

What You Can Do to Help

Therapies can help to alleviate the tensions of hormonal changes in both you and your mate. Discuss with your partner what each of you needs as you enter this transition period. Review your options, openly and honestly, together.

Some important options to keep in mind:

  1. Women often need lubrication to deal with dryness and the thinning of the vaginal membrane.
  2. Prescription estrogen creams, pills, patches, and vaginal cream are also possibilities to increase levels of estrogen and help with dryness as well as hot flashes.
  3. Males may need Viagra to help with potency.
  4. Vitamins and dietary changes can also help remedy some of these symptoms.
  5. Counseling, group therapy, medication (if recommended by your doctor) can address problems with depression, anxiety, and confusion.
  6. Consider lifestyle changes, such as diet, Vitamin D for bone mass loss, giving up smoking, and engaging in more exercise. These are all things you can do to take care of yourself during this transitional period.
  7. Reduce stress. Stress can be a huge factor at this time of your life, and can cause you to over-produce cortisol. That one thing alone can effect your memory, immune system, emotions, and life span. Find ways to de-stress, such as exercising, meditating, writing in a journal, singing, dancing, painting, and getting in touch with the inner you.

Finally, remember to laugh, to grieve for your lost youth, and to be open to new horizons. This can be such an exciting, liberating time, as you are free to explore who you truly are – as an individual and as a couple.

The Dalai Lama once told, only be with people who see who you are and value you. By valuing yourself during this time, you will value your partner, your family, and the outer world. By focusing on the positive internal shifts that result from menopause, and by communicating honestly about your challenges with the physical changes, you and your partner will be able to come out of this experience together with a renewed relationship well-suited for the mature adults you have now become.