Hormones of Horror
I’ve had it easy as far as wifely hormones. Over all Lori has had fairly mild PMS and menopausal symptoms. But I’ve seen the extremes – a girl friend and a few female friends when I was in high school showed me how bad it can be. I also know some women get hit hard by the hormonal changes accompanying moving from fertile to non-fertile.
First and foremost, I want you to accept the reality hormones are literally able to rewrite thoughts and emotions. Do you recall puberty, when a glimpse of a female body, or a stray thought of a girl, resulted in an erection you didn’t want and couldn’t get rid of? You were powerless to do anything other than hide or walk with your books in front of you. Do you remember the bursts of aggression, energy, and really stupid ideas coming from out of no where, which were acted out before you had a chance to think?
Those things were the result of testosterone on your body and mind. You went from virtually no testosterone to extremely high levels practically over night, and it was impossible to deal with such a sudden change in a calm and rational way. Your gradual improved control over time was not because your testosterone levels dropped significantly, but rather because the levels became stable and you learned how to cope.
Teen age girls have it worse – because they have several hormones, and those hormones change regularly, in cycle not nearly as set or uniform as a regular period makes it seem. Just as the sudden change in hormones made you crazy at times, the sudden monthly changes in hormones makes young ladies crazy at times.
Just as we learned to deal with our hormone, most women get better at dealing with their parade of hormones. Still, we have one hormone, while women have several, some going up while others are going down. Can you imagine how maddening that would be? It’s a wonder we men are not all murdered in our sleep!
Pregnancy is a whole new hormonal dance for women. Her hormones change for the entire nine months of pregnancy, and for many months after. Most new mothers have a brief bout of “baby blues” after giving birth, and about 20% have post-partum depression, which can last for up to a couple of years.
Then comes perimenopause, and it is even worse than what she dealt with during puberty. Her monthly hormonal fluctuations become greater, and the cycle becomes less predictable. Depression is common, and recent studies show memory suffers for several years. Energy levels and sex drive can also be impacted, sometimes mildly, but in some women to great extremes. Bursts of anger, sadness, and depression can show up without warning, and may last a few hours or a few months – or more. Perimenopause can last as little as 2 years, or as long as 15.
How does any of this information help you? If it causes you to treat your wife’s hormonally caused gyrations as real and valid, you will deeply bless her, which should make your life a bit easier. Accept this as part of marriage, and do what you can to make life easier for her. Avoid saying or doing things that will come back to haunt you after her hormonal haze clears. It’s easy to reply to her as if what she is saying or doing is what she really thinks and feels, but it’s not the best or most loving plan. You know how she really feels, even if it’s been a couple of years – react and reply to that person, not the one who temporarily has taken control of your wife’s body. Be sure to avoid belittling or mocking, it won’t help.
Disclaimers & Other information:
- I’m not saying you give her a pass on wrong behaviour! However, do remember how your hormones treated you at puberty and give her the same kind of grace you would have liked to have received back then. Don’t take it personally – most of it is not about you, or is about you but magnified greatly.
- Don’t completely ignore what she says just because you know it’s coloured by hormones. There may be a germ of truth in what she says, and if it’s something about you, you need to deal with it. I’m not telling you this will change her; it’s just the right thing to do.
- The impact of hormones varies greatly from one woman to another, and from one cycle to the next. It’s tempting to blame extreme reactions on a woman, thinking she’s not coping as well as other women who deal with the same thing. The reality is there’s no way to prove how much is hormone and how much is how she chooses to act. Besides, suggesting it’s her will anger her regardless.
- Stress and lack of sleep make hormonal difficulties far worse. You can help your bride and yourself by learning to know when it may get bad so you can help her de-stress and allow her more rest and alone time. If she has a very bad time with menopause, a couple of years with less expected of her might be a very good thing for both of you.
- By-and-large the problems of perimenopause dissipate with time. What won’t go away easily are hard feelings and injuries from arguments, fights, anger, or making her feel you don’t care.
- Medical help is getting better for more extreme hormonal issues. Find a doctor who specialises in the field. Realise the wide variation among women makes solutions a trial and error thing – expect to try several things before it gets better, with additional fine tuning over time. Support her in getting help if she is suffering a great deal.
- Understand no matter how difficult it is on you, it’s worse for her. Love her and support her – even if her actions make it difficult.