While there is plenty of information out there about menopause, there’s very little regarding the man’s perspective. My husband swears that men go through menopause, too, right alongside their female partners.
It was the same during my pregnancy; when I was miserable and crying over swollen ankles, my guy said his ankles looked a bit swollen, too. If I had a major craving for orange sherbert, so did he. When my tummy got rounder, so did his—which probably had more to do with the extra helpings of sherbert he had rather than any sympathy pains.
Now that I’ve crested the hill of my youth on a train chugging rapidly down the other side into menopause guess who has the window seat beside me? The other day I caught my husband jotting down a phone number after watching an infomercial about hormone replacement therapy. The problem is, I don’t know if he was doing it for his benefit or mine.
I feel sorry for him; he has no idea which woman he is coming home to each day after work. Instead, he may be greeted by a perky Doris Day or Jack Nicholson from The Shining. If the planets are aligned in his favor, he might even get lucky, but more than likely, he will be sharing dinner with Cruella de Vil. Is it any wonder he has the local priest’s number on speed dial if an exorcism is needed?
As for dealing with night sweats, my husband and I play “Blanket Wars.” One minute I’m sweating and kicking off the blanket while he curls up like a shivering shrimp beside me. In the next, I’m freezing cold, pulling five layers of blankets over us while he wipes beads of perspiration from his forehead.
If you ask him about my hot flashes, he’ll tell you that the last time it snowed in south Florida was in 1977, but at our house, it’s always winter since I leave the thermostat on 35 degrees. He also thinks we need a sign in the front yard welcoming people to the North Pole.
Another downside to menopause is weight gain. I’m always complaining about my puffy stomach and trying hard to eat healthily. But when I’m craving the last of the rocky road ice cream in the freezer, my husband subconsciously rubs his Budhha belly and wonders if he will have to fight me for it.
And then there is the age spot thing going on. When I complained about the changes to my skin—all the mysterious dark spots popping up, my husband Googled Leoprosy symptoms and started sleeping in the guest room.
While menopause is known for causing hair loss, I have the opposite problem with hair growing in abundance in weird and unexpected places. So when my husband found me trimming a few unruly nose hairs, he offered to buy me a weed wacker out of fear that I was turning into a female sasquatch.
I’ll admit that brain fog has also been a troubling symptom of menopause for me, and my husband quickly points out how often I ask, “Where’s my cell phone? Have you seen my glasses?” But he’s the one who can never find his keys, especially when he leaves them in the pantry next to the bag of chips he devoured. He also thinks I’m unreasonably grumpy at times, so he makes up excuses to visit the hardware store three times a day for the same item. How many toilet plungers does a house need?
Insomnia is another problem I’ve faced with menopause. The brain fog magically lifts at night, and suddenly my mind is filled with unnecessary Jeopardy game questions such as, “This person hosted the First Academy Awards ceremony in 1929…..” I’ll be awake until 3:00 a.m. mulling over this stuff. My bladder also plays a lead role in my sleep issues. Whether I drink one glass of water or 10 gallons, I have to pee several times a night. Of course, this wakes up Sleeping Beauty next to me, and now he’s up four times a night to use the bathroom. Needless to say, my water bill has skyrocketed with all the toilet flushing going on.
At least once a week, my husband asks, “Is it over yet?” Then, as I lean my forehead into the freezer for a moment to cool off from a hot flash, he shakes his head and walks away. And that’s when I remind him of our vows: “For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in Menopause……”
Author Bio: Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane and the voice behind the midlife blog, Menopausal Mother. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Independent, U.S.A. Today/Reviewed, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, AARP, Woman’s Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, and many others. You can find her at http://www. marciakesterdoyle.com