Seldom will you find articles about a man’s point of view when it comes to menopause, but the male perspective, according to my husband, needs to be told. After all, men have to live with us throughout the ordeal (remember that part in your wedding vows about ‘for better or worse’?) and endure our hair-raising roller coaster ride of emotions. My husband strapped on that seat belt a long time ago and has ridden through some rough terrain with me over the past few years.
When I was pregnant, he shared the experience with me through his own “phantom pregnancy.” As my belly expanded, so did his, along with every weird craving I had. If I ate reuben sandwiches and orange sherbet for breakfast, so did he. When I was grouchy and crying over swollen ankles, he was miserable and swore that his ankles looked a bit swollen, too. Or at least that’s what he said when his socks got too tight. Same goes for when the jeans no longer fit. It had absolutely nothing to do with all that beer chilling in the fridge.
Whenever it was “that time of the month” for me, he could match me in crabbiness and lower back pain. I once found him studying the label on a bottle of Midol pills he was considering taking, and that’s when I had to draw the line.
Now that I have crested the hill of my youth and am peddling downward into the menopausal stage of life, guess who’s riding behind me on the two-seater? Just the other day I caught my husband jotting down the 800 number for hormone replacement therapy. Problem is, I don’t know if it was for my benefit or his.
It’s rough on a man, not knowing what kind of a woman he might be coming home to each night when she’s in the throes of menopause. If the planets are aligned in his favor and his special numbers hit the lotto jackpot, he might come home to a sexy vixen in a French maid’s costume. But more than likely he’ll come home and hit speed dial for the local priest to come over ASAP to perform an exorcism.
Part of our shared moodiness and fatigue stems from lack of sleep, and I blame myself entirely for this. There is no such thing as a restful seven hours of shut-eye after hitting midlife. An over-active bladder and hot flashes rob me of this pleasure. My husband and I call it the “battle of the blankets”, because all night long we play tug-of-war with the sheets. I wake up sweating, which prompts me to use the bathroom, and once my feet hit the cold, tiled floor, I’m shivering like my house has been transformed into an igloo. Meanwhile, the bed sheets are still warm from my recent hot flash, which spreads warmth to my husband’s side of the bed.
Now he’s the one having a psuedo hot flash and he kicks off the sheet. I hop into bed, my teeth chattering, and yank three layers of covers over us. The unbearable heat wakes up my husband, who stumbles bleary-eyed into the bathroom. Just as I am beginning to dose off, I hear the toilet flush and realize there are beads of perspiration forming above my lip. After muttering a few choice words, I begin kicking wildly at the blankets that are tangled around my legs. “Get ‘em off! Get ‘em OFF!” My husband gawks at me. “What do you mean?” he asks. “It’s feezing in here!”
It has taken awhile, but my husband has finally come to understand the mood swings of his menopausal wife. Sometimes it feels as if there is a loose connection between my mouth and my brain, which is when all hell breaks loose and the insanity begins rolling off my tongue. “WHO THE HELL MOVED MY ‘CALM YOURSELF WITH YOGA’ BOOK THREE INCHES OFF THE SHELF?” “DID YOU FORGET TO BUY THE CLUMPING CAT LITTER AGAIN? I’M NOT CLEANING UP THAT #@!*#!” “WHO ATE MY LEFTOVER KUNG PO BEEF?!” No wonder there has been a steady increase in our bill from the liquor store.
My husband and kids have both learned the hard way to NEVER tell this menopausal mother to “just chill” when I am on one of my hormonal tirades over stupid stuff like missing socks in the dryer. Two go in, one comes out. Where do they go? Mismatched sock heaven? It’s the little things that send me over the edge. A hurricane could be chewing up my back yard but I won’t notice it because I’ll be too busy yelling at the culprit negligent of cleaning out the congealed macaroni-lettuce-dog food gunk in the dish drainer. This is what my spouse has to deal with on a regular basis—a menopausal maniac.
My husband believes in the old adage, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, because he has. While we share similiar complaints about aging (weight gain, fatigue, brittle nails, creaky bones), he has certain issues that I (thankfully!) do not share. Things that only a man can understand. Like testicles. According to my husband, New Year’s Eve at Times Square isn’t the only time a ball drops. Wait until you turn fifty and are forced to walk bowlegged. He also claims that flatulence is a problem with aging. Most of the time he feels like a helium balloon avoiding a hat pin. Just scribble “Goodyear” on his back side.
Have you noticed that a man’s ears get bigger as they age? My husband calls it the Dumbo Syndrome. Speaking of elephants, check out the skin on the elbow of you fifty-and-older spouse. Time to join a herd of mastodons. AARP has already offered my husband a gold card membership.
Not only has my spouse had to endure hair loss and frequent bouts of butt chafing, to add insult to injury, a man his age should be driving a snazzy sports car, but mine is driving the minivan from hell. You know the type—oxidized paint, missing hubcaps, broken door handles…circa 1999. The van seizes up at every stop light and belches smoke if you punch the accelerator too quickly. Oh yeah, it’s a babe magnet all right. Well…maybe to a menopausal mama looking for her soulmate in a menopausal man.