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Explaining Menopause1. Do Your Research
Some people mistakenly believe they already know all that there is to know. This can be a huge mistake because there are tremendous amounts of variation from woman to woman when it comes to menopause. Some women may even misunderstand the terminology associated with menopause. Did you know that menopause marks the date of your last period and that perimenopause is the stage where most of the unwanted symptoms occur? Gathering a range of information will make your explanations more thorough and enlightening.
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2. Pay Attention to Your Symptoms and Experience
Now that you have obtained a well-rounded view of menopause, you can begin paying close attention to your symptoms, triggers, experiences and expectations. Do you find yourself feeling more intense feelings? Do you finding yourself wanting to change something about yourself or the people in your life? Do you see changes in your eating, sleeping and exercise habits? Amassing this information is crucial if you want to explain menopause. Otherwise you will simply be speaking in general terms, which isn’t effective.
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3. Set the Mood
So far, these tips have all been about preparing to explain menopause rather than actually explaining it, and for good reason. If you don’t come prepared, you won’t be able to successfully communicate your situation.
Setting the mood continues with the idea of establishing an environment conducive to learning will aid your success. Find a place and time free from distractions. Choosing to bring up menopause in the bottom of the ninth inning may hurt your cause.
Make sure your internal environment is right as well. Check in with yourself to make sure frustrations and symptoms are under control going into the conversation. Chances are they will escalate during the conversation due to the nature of the content. Starting low will give them room to rise.
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4. Start the Conversation Early
If you are really interested in reducing the risk of menopause negatively impacting your relationship, you will have the conversation with your significant other early. Oftentimes, it is advisable to have a sit down long before your symptoms begin. In so many aspects of life (including this one), being preventative is so much more beneficial than doing damage control. Prevention leads to preparedness rather than reactivity.
An early conversation can help assess your significant other’s expectations and preconceived notions of menopause. You can work to understand what factors played into the development of these ideas. All of this information will be useful later.
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5. Set Realistic Expectation
Menopause is confusing enough for you, and you are the one experiencing it firsthand. Your significant other will likely never go through something even remotely similar.
In this situation, your expectations really control the outcomes. If you expect your loved one to perfectly understand your needs and wants immediately, you are going to be really let down, disappointed and dejected. If you expect there to be some level of confusion, resistance and finger pointing, you may land at a more realistic place. The best expectations balance ideal goals with realistic responses.
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6. Be Clear and Kind
When you begin the process of explaining menopause to your significant other, you need to come from a place of kindness and clarity. They need to be treated as your ally rather than your adversary. Focus as much as you can on facts instead of emotional content that is up for debate. Speak in a way that is calm, informative and personable. Make sure your nonverbal communication matches the tone of what you say while you stick to the main point.
Consider this script: “I wanted to talk to you about menopause. It seems that I am entering a stage of perimenopause where my periods will be erratic and inconsistent. My body will produce estrogen inconsistently. This will spark symptoms like mood changes, anxiety and irritability as well as hot flashes, vaginal dryness and diminished concentration.” This works by being concise with just enough detail.
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7. Erase the Lies
After you begin with the disclosure that perimenopause symptoms are beginning, you can focus on erasing the fallacies that your significant other might hold as truth. Ask where these ideas came from and if he has any firsthand information to support these notions. Make sure your loved one knows that there is a lot of variation with menopause so your experience could be much different. By reducing the preconceived notions, you can set the stage for your significant other to be more objective and nonjudgmental. This will greatly benefit both of you in the future.
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8. Paint an Honest Picture
The information you give must be honest and truthful. You know that menopause is not as bad as the sitcoms make it out to be, but you also know that portraying menopause as a walk in the park is inaccurate, too. You have the challenging task of walking a fine line between fact and fiction. Sticking to the truth is always a smart decision, and the truth is that you do not know what is around the bend. Your symptoms could be fleeting or very intense for an extended period of time. This honesty further solidifies your significant other as a supporter. Lying or omitting details is a fantastic way to build a foe.
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9. Give Directions and Guidance
Men are notorious fixers. Many of them want to solve a problem by hitting something with a hammer or tightening something with a wrench. You are well-served to allow this need to be utilized with your loved one. If he is willing to help, let him.
A previous tip talked about the benefits of collecting data related to your symptoms, and this is the time to use them. If you know that a hot flash is coming at 8:45 pm, tell him to have a cold compress ready at 8:40 pm. If you know that certain household tasks trigger symptoms, encourage him to take over from time to time. If he loves you and cares for you, he will step up.
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10. Talk About the Impact on Sex
Unsurprisingly, he may be wondering how this will impact your sex life. Rather than viewing this as an indication of his selfishness, see it as an honest concern. It seems that there is some split with women dealing with menopause. Some see a certain level of freedom and enjoyment that comes from no longer being able to become pregnant. Others experience pain and discomfort due to dryness as well as reduced sex drive. Again, check in with yourself to see which side of the line you fall. Assess his needs and work to find compromise.
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11. Have the Conversation Often
A good way to explain something is by having a conversation about it. The best way to explain something is by having a series of conversations about it. Over time, your symptoms will change, and your significant other’s understandings will change. Having the conversation often permits you the opportunity to adjust your approach based on feedback from your loved one, and for them to gain from additional information from you. Along the way, each conversation will be less awkward and more valuable as your relationship moves in new directions with menopause.
You’ll find a great menopause guide for men over at NewLifeOutlook.