Does Menopause Wreck Marriages?
This is a hot topic around the Internet, and certainly one that seems to dominate the comment section of my personal blog. I don’t see it going away any time soon either. In fact, my prediction is that it will continue to gain momentum until it darn near becomes a national conversation.
It is a question which is layered with cultural, political, sociological, religious, feminist, and gender issues. In fact, if you’re inclined to be intrigued by such subjects, as I am, you will have a heyday with this topic.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you before I go any further, that I am currently in the middle of a very acrimonious divorce. So my opinion on this subject is already colored with bias before I even open my mouth. On the other hand, I could also say that my personal experience with this topic (menopause and marriage) is invaluable. Let’s just say I’ve “been there, done that.”
While I’m certain my soon-to-be-ex-husband would very likely tell you that “menopause and me” was the hormonal IED that blew our marriage to smithereens, I will tell you that is not entirely the case. Did menopause affect my marriage? Oh, indeed it did. Did it wreck my marriage? No, it did not.
It was Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, The Wisdom of Menopause, and more specifically the opening chapter, “Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscope,” which first piqued my interest in the subject of menopause and marriage. At the time I read the book, my marriage was entering the first stages of a very rapid decline. While it had not yet begun its final free fall, it was coming and I knew it.
Dr. Northrup’s book provided the framework within which I was able understand the context of menopause, and how it was shaping and forming my different perspective on the state of my marriage. A perspective which ultimately brought me to a cross-road which required I make a decision that would determine the direction of the rest of my life.
So, in that regard, I suppose an argument could be made that “menopause wrecked my marriage.” But that would only be a superficial observation, which does not take into account the subsequent three years of personal examination, and frankly, gut-wrenching soul-searching, which culminated in the final death blow to my marriage. I prefer to think that menopause sharpened by vision, causing me to see the finer edges of a problem relationship which was at the very least, co-dependent, and at its worst, toxic and abusive.
According to many men with whom I have had sometimes heated and contentious dialogues around this subject, their marriages were “happy and solid” until menopause came along and ruined everything. While I have no evidence to the contrary of their assessment on the state of their marital unions, given the many discussions I’ve also had with women on this subject, I have a really hard time accepting that a good marriage can be completely annihilated by menopause.
I have come to believe that menopause is like a spot light. If there are problems in a marriage, menopause will shine a bright light and expose every one of them. Does this mean then, if a marriage is troubled that menopause is sure to destroy it? No, it does not. But you can be certain that if it is to survive, both parties must be willing, as Dr. Northrup suggests in her book to….”resolve old issues and set new ground rules for the years that lie ahead…….if one or both cannot or will not, then both health and happiness may be at risk.”
I know many men do not like to hear such ominous statements when it comes to menopause and marriage. It sounds like an ultimatum of sorts. But if you’re going to ask me if “menopause wrecks marriages” then I guess you’re going to have to put on your big boy britches and be willing to hear the answer.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.