Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column, we follow her on her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M.
A friend of mine told me that her sister blames her divorce on her Menopause. She feels that her personality changed so much during her Menopause it affected her marriage. She happens to have a husband who behaved very badly, so she is possibly being hard on herself, but divorce during Menopause IS something that happens. The statistical fact is that over 60 per cent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s or 60s, which, interestingly, also happen to be the Menopause Years.
Before we go any further, let me say this. If you have been married to a complete s**t, who has treated you badly, if you are in an abusive relationship, if life events have fundamentally changed things, or if the love between you simply died a long time ago, then don’t get any of that confused with what I’m saying here. If, however, your formerly loving relationship has recently been under significant and consistent strain, it is worth noting that the hormone changes in Menopause are so strong, they can actually result in the decision to leave your spouse, and if you are going to walk away from your marriage, or long-term partnership, it needs to be for the right reasons, and not hormonal ones.
First off, let’s talk about “oxytocin”, the cute little fella also known as our “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin is the hormone that makes women want to care for others. Women nurture by nature. Women, generally speaking, are the ones who keep the family together, who organize everybody and carry the main burden of running the household. In a way, oxytocin captivates us from an early age, and holds us prisoner as we continuously take care of other people.
During Menopause, oxytocin levels can drop, which loosens our feelings of love, and responsibility to other people. Suddenly, a whole new you begins to emerge, one who cares less about others, and more about yourself. This is not selfish, this is not in your head — there is a very real, physical reason for what is happening, as your oxytocin withdraws.
Furthermore, the other thing that can actually happen during this time, is that your testosterone levels stay high. For some women, they will fall, but for other,s they won’t. And if a woman’s testosterone levels stay high as her oxytocin levels fall, then she will suddenly get a real sense of purpose, drive and focus. And that will result in her feeling “… Wait a minute?What about me? I need to be looked after. Why am I looking after everybody else and not myself?”
Women can become quite fed up with life in general during this time. They might become extremely bored. They might decide they don’t like their job anymore. They may suddenly not like the clothes, hairstyle and make-up they’ve been happy with for a long time. They may feel that they just want to change everything. Including the love of their life.
Compounding this is the fact that Menopause usually occurs at a time in a woman’s life where she has spent the past ten or twenty years dedicating herself to her family. She has consistently put their needs before hers, so when Menopause kicks in, and oxy exits the building, all the wants and needs she put to one side now take centre stage as she declares “this is my time.”
A couple of things need to happen here. First off, you need to understand what is happening to you, and you need to recruit all the help you can get to navigate these choppy waters. This may be HRT, it may be natural remedies, it may be a therapist or a life coach, it may be a combination of all of the above, but you need to help yourself figure out what is happening and how best to deal with it. And as you do that, what is really important is to fulfil yourself. To answer those needs. So, change the career, take up the activities you always wanted to do, DO THE THINGS that will make you happy and fulfilled.
Finally, help your loved ones understand what’s happening to you too. Educate them as you educate yourself. Ask them for their support and understanding. Be like Jerry Maguire and help them help you. And remember, if you are going to walk away from a significant relationship, make sure it’s for the right reasons, and not hormonal ones. Don’t look back with regret. Take time to do proper counselling, make sure your head is clear thinking, and that way you won’t have regrets. Wise words from a single woman, folks. Peace, love and oxytocin.