“What is rarely acknowledged and understood is that as these hormone-driven changes affect the brain, they give a woman a sharper eye for inequity and injustice, and a voice that insists on speaking up about them. In other words, they uncover hidden wisdom – and the courage to voice it.” – Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Did you know that statistics show that more than 65% of divorces after the age of 50 are being initiated by women?
That’s a dramatic shift compared with only one generation ago where the vast majority of divorces (at any age) were being initiated by men.
Along with the erratic changes in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels that accompanies menopause, comes more irritability and worry, and well as interrupted sleep patterns and less interest in sex.
But that’s only where it begins and the changes we feel within ourselves. These changes have a direct impact on how we show-up in our lives and relationships.
Our culture has long expected women to put everyone else’s needs before our own – and that worked during our child-bearing years; we were glad to put many of our needs aside if it meant our children would thrive.
But once the kids are grown (and sometimes gone)….
Once our own parents begin to age and need more help…
Once we’ve experienced some loss in our lives, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a miscarriage, a job lost or the death of a dream we once carried…
We come into menopause no longer willing to subjugate our needs so that everyone else’s needs can be met. Or as the late Joan Crawford once said, “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”
In menopause is when many women realize all they’ve given up within themselves and in their own lives, and sometimes….understandably…they’re a little angry about it.
This is the time when women begin to re-claim the parts of themselves that were lost over the years:
- Their voice…
- Their dreams…
- Their desires…
- Their needs..
And yes, even re-claiming their anger over the unmet and unacknowledged needs inside their marriage.
That will inevitably cause some upset inside the marriage because the old rules no longer work.
So Now What?
Because many women are so disgruntled by this time because they’ve been harboring and suppressing decades of resentments, they assume the only answer is to end the marriage. And frankly, sometimes that is the right answer.
But if you want to remain together in your marriage, there are two non-negotiable steps:
- Resolve old issues and heal past resentments. This means being willing to tell the truth of your experience and ideally, feeling heard and validated by your partner. It also means letting go of our own ideas of how it “should have been.”
- Re-negotiate new ground rules in the marriage. Assuming that what worked for the two of you in your 20s and 30s should also work for you in midlife is delusional. You two both have to re-think how you function, how you engage with one another and what your new priorities are as individuals and as a couple in this second half of life.
As a women enters into menopause:
- She now has a voice…that she’s less afraid to use.
- She now has time and space in her life to (finally…) honor herself and what she needs, wants, and desires.
- She has done her job as a wife and a mother…and now she’s ready to step into the woman she is today and who she’s becoming.
We can try to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that nothing new is happening when we (or our spouses) begin moving into menopause, but the divorce statistics are proving how that ends.
My good friend Jeanne and Menopause Guru started a podcast, Menopause Matters, and she was kind enough to invite me on for a soulful discussion around this topic of how menopause is impacting marriages today. You can have a listen here.
And if moving into menopause has been impacting your marriage and you want to either find your way through it (or out of it), maybe it’s time we talk. You can schedule a complimentary Truth & Clarity session here.