Could Perimenopause Be Hurting Your Marriage?

The term “perimenopause” refers to the time period in a woman’s life before the onset of menopause, which may include typical menopause symptoms like hot flashes or difficulty sleeping, as well as mood changes, differences in sexual desire, and irregular menstrual patterns.

While this is all but inevitable with age, perimenopause can begin over a pretty broad age range, and the full onset of menopause – when menstrual cycles stop altogether and women become permanently infertile – can be gradual.

Perimenopause (also called the menopausal transition) and menopause itself are often considered to be specifically women’s issues, but with the impact they can have on marital strength, they are quite clearly couples’ and family issues as well.

Is perimenopause destroying your marriage?
Is perimenopause destroying your marriage?

Divorce instigated by women is more common than ever before, and in many of those cases, the women filing are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s – a prime time in their lives for the onset of perimenopause. Because the hormonal changes have an impact on nearly every aspect of a woman’s life, including how she evaluates her marriage, it’s no wonder we see a pattern here.

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, a women’s health expert and author of The Wisdom of Menopause, the hormonal changes can make women place their marriages under a proverbial microscope, and be more likely to see instances of inequality, problems in the marriage, or ways their own needs aren’t being met.

Some of the chemical changes, Dr. Northrup says, can cause women to go from putting other’s needs before their own, to being more aware of their own needs and wants. This alone is enough to change the status quo of many marriages.

From a husband’s perspective, this can all seem confusing and unexpected – and in all reality, the irritable, hot-flashing, mood-swinging, perimenopausal wife may doing her fair share to cause tension in the relationship – but the bulk of the issue stems from a simple misunderstanding of unavoidable biology, and a lack of honest communication about what’s going from the woman’s perspective.

Men may be aware of menopause, and even have an understanding of the symptoms, but that does not necessarily mean they are prepared to recognize them when they happen. It’s up to the women experiencing the changes to be self-aware and open with their husbands, and let them know that things aren’t feeling the same – that their sex drive might be on the fritz, that their moods seem to changing sporadically, that they are starting to think about the marriage in different ways, and most important of all, if they are feeling dissatisfied with the state of the relationship.

For the husbands in this scenario, even if this kind of discussion is unexpected, it’s important to listen with compassion and open ears, and help your wife acclimate to her changing body chemistry. Because of the way her thinking changes, it may be a wonderful opportunity to address overlooked issues in the marriage, work on repairing them, and make the relationship much better for the both of you.

The real name of the game here, again, is honesty and understanding. Bodies are strange, with all kinds of chemicals that influence the way we think and behave – sometimes outside of our conscious awareness – and when our bodies and minds change over time, we simply have to be there for each other, be clear about what’s happening, and get through it as best we can.

If you suspect menopause or perimenopause may be having an effect on your marriage, stop hiding from it, stop being embarrassed about change or age, stop wondering – and just TALK ABOUT IT.

Once you get things out in the open, you can start to work on solutions together.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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andrew 9 years ago

Life with my wife is like riding an emotional rollercoaster. There is no stability whatsoever.My wife will become furiously angry over the most seemingly trivial things. I've been married to my wife for just under a year. We've been together for almost four years. We are both in our early-30's and are an inter-cultural couple (I'm American, she's Korean) living in Seoul.

Peter 9 years ago

My wife has recently started telling me my behavior is irrational. I am extremely strong willed and persistent. I've tried the "I see your point, but feel differently" answers. She constantly pushes or uses holding out to persuade or influence me to change my opinion or tells me I am wrong. That leads to an argument and our tempers.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi Peter, I know that can be hard to handle, and you probably feel the need to be defensive. Here is some advice on how to understand each other's communication -

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi Andrew, I know that can be hard to handle, and you probably feel the need to be defensive. Here is some advice on how to understand each other's communication -

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi Peter - If you are strong willed and persistent, and you know it, perhaps you need to work on that behavior in order to compromise with your wife.

No name 9 years ago

My partner of 12 years went full blown midlife crises (perioMenopause )last May. Lost her job due to down sizing. Uthonized her pets due to age. Then Kicked me out 4 months before our wedding. We still go out and have had relations a few times. But it's not the same as it was before. I'm more than willing to wait till this passes or gets better. I'm also willing to accept, (because I understand)she will be different than before. I'm ok with this as I get it. We all change, grow, see things differently than we did in our youth. Im personally having a difficult time as I just plain miss her. I think of this hormonal issue like it was a brain tumor. I wouldn't step away from the relationship if it was that and was causing her personality to change. So why would I walk away because hormones are doing just that. I journaled for a while but found it hard to be positive. Now I just hang low and wait for her to call. I love and miss her.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi No Name - I think it's great that you are willing to stand by her. So many people don't see emotional struggles as real. I would write her a letter, and tell her how much you love her, and that you are willing to stand by her side, even if you haven't formally taking vows. Perhaps you two could with start with small steps to repair your relationship. Set date nights, or regular calls.

No name 9 years ago

Thank you Mike for the reply - We do talk daily. Early In our relationship we would talk for hours every day. After all of this happend she would call two sometimes three times a week. This has grown back to every day. When I am home we go out almost every night. So it would seem that things are on the mend. I keep thinking I just need to stay calm, and accept whatever she wants. I get that she is struggling with peroMenopause and age issues. I guess Im not really looking for an answer.... just a place to vent and talk about how I feel. Its hurts, I cry myself to sleep on a regular basis. (I know not manly) Im stressed beyond compair. I don't want to be with anyone but her. It's been over 6 months now and I still feel the same. I have read some great blogs on this issue and feel I have a greater understanding of how she feels. Funny because most of my friends or coworkers say to dump her and move on. Get on with my life. I just cant do it. Thats how much I love her. Perhaps someone els is going through this and I am helping them or mabey they can help me. Not a lot of places for men to go and vent when there partner is going though this. Thanks again for the responce.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi No Name - You're being a better man by being a great husband. Hang in there, I hope things resolve for you both soon.

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