Menopause and relationships

It goes by many names, the change, the pause or that time of life; the menopause is a life-changing event. The emotional effects of the menopause affect our mood and our relationships. When a woman has her first hot flush, it is a profound moment. Many women feel a sense of loss as it can be a significant moment when we realise that our child-rearing days are over and we start to take stock and asses where we are in our lives. We may also feel a sense of liberation. No matter how you may view this moment it may well shift our own sense of identity in the world. This is a time when we may well change our perception of ourselves and our relationships.

What we know is that for the average woman (is there such a thing?) menopause happens at the age of 51 whilst being perimenopausal starts at 45. Some woman start way earlier and others may start way later. In our practice we understand that it happens at a time when so much else is happening in a woman’s life. We can not dismiss the bigger picture. Not all stresses can be put down to hormonal changes as life itself holds a range of challenges. Careers may have reached a ceiling for their partners and their self. Children may well be leaving home. Financial demands are at their highest, and our long-term relationships have lost their mojo! Then just for good measure, nature throws us a curveball. We step onto a hormonal rollercoaster.

Menopause effects women in a vast number of ways. It is just as unique as each of us. So it is impossible to provide one size fits all. Women are often left stumbling around trying to find information that may or may not be useful to their unique set of circumstances. We know that the only two universally accepted indicators for the menopause is the ceasing of periods and hot flushes but there is a gambit of other symptoms. Rapid mood shifts, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, mind fog, and anger. Some women have also described getting depressed. Menopause doesn't cause depression, but it can precipitate depression in those that have that propensity.

There is little surprise this can destabilise the most solid relationships. So what can we do? Find a medic that is knowledgable and sympathetic. We presume that all doctors are experts in giving us advice and this is simply not true. Download the NICE guidelines and become clear about your needs then make an appointment.

Coping with the menopause

Talk. Talk to your friends to a counsellor, talking helps process what at times feels like we are at sixes and sevens with the world. This is a time to reframe how we think and talk about menopause. How we think creates an internal way of thinking and feeling about menopause. It is vital that we reclaim this process as a time that is both creative and empowering. Use mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. There is so much research into the use of mindfulness and there are many apps available so you are able to integrate this into your daily life. Exercise to release the endorphins. It is our own inner happy. Paced breathing has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety by 95% which is staggering.

Finally, you may be the one that is going through the change but so is your relationship. The menopause is a relational issue. We know that the difference between a good and a bad relationship is the difference between thriving or simply surviving. Have an open and frank conversation with your partner. Let them in to what is going on. We know that feeling connected to our love partner releases a different kind of hormone that reduces tension and stress and helps us to cope with what life is throwing at us.

Reclaim this moment in your life. This is a natural albeit sometimes uncomfortable time in your life but it can open the door to the next thirty years where you can refocus your attention on yourself and your partner and start to reclaim your life as a woman who is empowered to start creating a future of your making.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wimbledon, London, SW19
Written by Pam Custers, Relationship Therapist London MA Pg/Dip (RELATE) Psych Hons
Wimbledon, London, SW19

Pam Custers is an experienced therapist based in Wimbledon and online.

Working with individuals, couples and families.
Specialising in Relationships and marriage counselling.

She has worked in a range of organisations including RELATE, GP Practice, Schools. Clients are successful individuals who value her unique approach.

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