Do the men in our lives know enough about what we experience when going through the menopause? I caught up with Sue Brayne, author of ‘Sex, Meaning and the Menopause, a Book for Men and Women’. A book which looks at the menopause from both a male and female perspective, and the impact it can have on relationships.
The motivation behind the book helping men understand the menopause
Sue Brayne was sitting at dinner with her 50something friends with the husbands bemoaning the fact that they had been totally unprepared for the changes experienced by their wives as they went through the menopause. Sue decided it was something to explore. “ They all complained that there was a lack of understanding of menopause from a male perspective- and that they found it difficult to find the information they felt they needed. So, I wrote ‘Sex, Meaning and the Menopause . A book for Men and Women so all those men confronted by moody menopausal women wouldn’t take things quite so personally!”
How open were the men you interviewed?
“In interviewing the partners of menopausal women for ‘Sex, Meaning and the Menopause’many of the men said that they had felt pushed aside- with no explanation of their partner’s behaviour to fall back on. Many of the men interviewed were surprisingly candid as they talked about how their own sexual relationships with wives and partners had changed.
Opening up communication at his time is vital. For women the menopause often brings about a time of reflection . It’s important that both parties are honest about what they want out of life. Many couples felt that the menopause highlighted the cracks already existing in their relationships”
Menopausal years are a period of immense change
“For women this time of life is a period of immense change, dealing with the empty nest, ailing parents, becoming a grandparent. Her whole identity may be changing” Pressures at work may be surfacing- although in Sue’s research it appeared that that those working in service industries found their careers were hardest hit by perceived ageism as they entered their 50s, with women in academia almost coming into their own!
As well as the pressure Sue believes many women feel to take advantage of anti-ageing treatments to offset the impact of ageing on the outside, the menopause is also a time where women change on the inside, becoming more spiritual, more reflective.
“Men are fortunate not to experience the same changes- they are still able to father children with younger women hence don’t have the same sense of loss. But that’s evolution for you!”
Women are happier in their 60s
Interestingly, from Sue’s conversations with women, she concluded that women are happier in their 60s than in their 50s, having effectively done their mourning! They know who they are and feel fabulous having coming through the other side of the most changeable decade feeling a lot happier!
“As baby boomers age they are breaking new ground, with no role models to follow. They expect far more from life than previous generations.”
Sue is hoping that both men and women can pick up her book to better understand the impact the menopause can have on their lives and relationships- and embrace it.
Any book that can help bridge the menopausal divide has to be good read!