Poll Results: (Editor’s Note: If you picked “Point Out the Problem,” we’re impressed you made it this far.)
Point Out the Problem: 11% (We hope you’re kidding.)
Throw Chocolate: 20%
“When I grow up and my wife has PMS, I’m going to stand up for myself!” When my young son uttered these words, I choked on my coffee and knew that he was going to be in trouble if that thought process continued. Should you stand up for yourself? Sure, but tomorrow she may not even know herself why she got so angry. What she will know is how you responded. A better approach might be the proactive one that doesn’t involve any mention of the calendar, her menses or lack of one. In either case, it’s the hormones that are ruling the day, not some deep truth serum that’s exposing the real thoughts of your wife or partner.
Monitor the Calendar… Quietly. Whether it’s PMS, pre-menopause or menopause, the calendar can be a handy tool if you use it correctly, which is to say never mentioning it, but keeping it marked for those “special” days. The words “that time of the month” are a worse catalyst than “just calm down,” so remove them from your vocabulary for a much more peaceful existence. When she’s in the throes of a hormonal windfall, logic has left the building and there is no sense in trying to drag it bag in kicking and screaming. Even during peri-menopause or menopause, there may be a pattern to her hormonal mood swings, but consider it the pattern that shall not be named.
Don’t Make Eye Contact. Seriously, this is not the time to sit down for a lengthy chat about mood swings, housekeeping, the kids, or anything other than the plans you’ve made to give her some space, without actually saying you’re trying to give her space. Tread lightly. Deep conversations are bound to be more emotional or heated than usual, so save them for another time and instead, give her some room to do what she needs to. She isn’t any happier about her mood than you are, but now is not the time to discuss it.
Throw Chocolate… From a Distance. Some women crave chocolate, sweets or comfort food at some time during these hormonal episodes. If she’s not feeling like herself, then you probably shouldn’t expect dinner to be as good as usual. You can help by ordering something to be delivered or better yet, picking up some take out from her favorite restaurant.
Dress Accordingly. When women have hot flashes, no amount of frigid air conditioning is going to help, but don’t tell her that. In fact, if she seems to be experiencing a hot flash, you might offer to put the fan closer to her or do something similar. She feels like she is burning up from the inside out and you won’t (and shouldn’t try) be able to convince her that external temperature changes won’t help. You may need to toss on a sweater or hoodie in July and just ride it out quietly.
Let the Waters Flow. If she keeps hydrated, it will help her to not feel so exhausted and can reduce cramping and some of the hormonal imbalances. Whenever the chemicals of the body are involved, keeping hydrated can help keep the blood flowing smoothly to all parts of the body. Sugars can thicken the blood and make life even more uncomfortable, so it’s especially important to drink plenty of water if starches or raw sugars are part of the comfort food selection. When you see her start to perspire, offer her a glass of ice water. Hot water bottles are great for soothing cramps, and you might even win some bonus points by running her a hot bath with some aromatic candles spread around the room.
Soothe the Beast Within. This is a great time for you to pull out all the stops and use your best sooting skills. You know her best, so give space when she needs it, listen when she can’t help but vent, and consider offering a gentle massage to her lower stomach. Even if she is in a hormonal rage, an extra dose of kindness can go a long way. The worst thing you risk is the tears that may come when she starts thinking about how nice you’re being when she may feel it’s impossible in that moment to even be human.
Just Run. If you’ve done all you can or all that she seems to want you to do, now might be a good time to head to the mancave for some pressing “project.” If you have children, take them out to the park or anywhere that isn’t setting them up to be the small noises that are the final straw for her. Her patience probably isn’t what it normally is, and giving her some space is a great way to let her do what she needs to without mentioning that she needs to do something. In fact, if you’ve got the pattern down and marked your calendar for it, you can plan monthly events so she gets a break from the kids and some of her household tasks all at once.
When you start to notice the signs of a hormone-induced bout of emotions, think back to your teen years. Surges of hormones were likely to have an impact on your thoughts and emotions then, just as they are on hers now. Even in menopause, when estrogen isn’t exactly flowing, the lack of hormones followed by a short burst of them can have a temporary impact on her mood and your relationship, if you let it. Satan hasn’t taken over your loved one, but hormones have and that can seem almost as bad.