While reaching menopause is a natural life chapter, coping with the numerous unpleasant physical and emotional side effects might not come so naturally. Although treatments can alleviate some uncomfortable symptoms, there’s no complete safeguard against the ways that changing hormonal levels affect your mind and body. And while menopause is definitely an individual journey, the ups and downs that you experience will affect those around you, particularly your partner.

It’s probably hard enough for you to comprehend your fluctuating emotions — all those bursts of sadness or anxiety — let alone try to explain to your loved one what you’re going through. But in order to maintain a healthy relationship, you’ll need to give your partner an overview of what you’re experiencing on a physical and emotional level.

Believe it or not, your loved one wants to understand this significant life transition. Through education, they can better understand your needs, which can be as basic as time alone or a shoulder to cry on. Opening up to your partner or spouse will make you feel less isolated, frantic, and anxious.

It’s essential that you feel grounded and balanced before you begin talking about menopause. If you’re feeling upset and anxious, wait until you feel better. Remember that your partner will want to learn constructive ways to help you cope, and you’ll need to be in a healthy mindset in order to communicate effectively.

Once you’re feeling ready, give your partner the heads-up that you’d like to talk about what you’re going through. Make sure to take a moment to sit down at the couch or kitchen table and hold their hand. Your partner may be worried by what you’re about to say, and you’ll want them to feel as safe and comfortable as possible.

How you educate your partner will depend on your strengths and weaknesses as a couple. You might feel more comfortable presenting menopause in a more distant and clinical way, explaining how changing hormone levels manifest themselves in various physical and mental ways for women in general. Or, you may choose to explain all the symptoms that you’re experiencing firsthand and how they make you feel. What’s important is that you feel comfortable and remain honest. Give your partner the opportunity to ask questions and assure them that if they do have questions, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed or worried about asking them or hurting your feelings.

A crucial side effect of menopause is a lowered libido, and it’s something you’ll need to address with your partner. You’ll need to explain that your decreased interest in sex is a common result of menopause and should not cause guilt or shame within your marriage. This will help your partner understand that your disinterest in sex is not about them but rather a result of the changes in your body.

Make sure to reassure them that this change is only temporary, and that you can continue to have a healthy and active sex life. Suggest exploring new ways to rekindle your desire and playful ways to stimulate your body, such as the possibility of using lubricants or sex toys.

You’ll find that taking the time to talk about your sexuality on an emotional level will ultimately bring you and your partner closer.

As with all hardships and transitions, you and your partner will cope best as a team. Studies show that both menopausal women and their spouses generally have positive attitudes towards this phase of life.

Lean on your loved one for encouragement and let them know how much their understanding means to you. Teach them the importance of incorporating healthy lifestyle choices during menopause, including healthy eating and regular exercise, and engage in those activities together. By opening up and letting your spouse in on what you’re experiencing, you can take your relationship to new heights.