Feeling overwhelmed with life. Distracted without a sense of purpose. Overstressed and overanxious. Lonely, without close relationships. Unable to focus, be quiet, or hear God’s voice. Could your hyperconnected digital diet be causing anxiety?
You may have heard it a lot: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Perhaps you felt a knife in your own soul when a parent, teacher, or coach said it to you. Perhaps you watched a sibling or friend wither under such a putdown. Or perhaps you caught yourself saying it to your own child or someone else close to you.
And the truth of it is, that’s right! Each one of us ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We’ve done things, said things, and failed to take action in ways that have harmed ourselves and others. If we were to feel the full weight of our shame we would be crushed. And some of us are.
Human beings hate shame. Throughout the years people have devised all kinds of ways to deal with shame. Religious penance or the doing of good deeds doesn’t address the inner shame, however, even though they try to. Whole movements have developed over trying to get rid of our shame about things such as sexuality or body weight. (Wasn’t that the underlying issue in the “sexual revolution?”)
Some men complain their wives lose interest in intimacy around the time of menopause. Some women complain they can’t enjoy sex the way they used to. These changes can put a lot of stress on a marriage. But sex after menopause can be meaningful and satisfying.
A woman’s sexual response is a very delicate and interconnected thing. Physical discomfort, hormonal changes, stress – all that and more can affect her desire and ability to engage in intimacy. It may often be difficult to decide exactly which factor is most important.
As a gynecologist I’ve helped women with these problems for many years. And I know menopause does not have to be the end of desire: it can be the beginning! I will always remember one lovely lady I saw as a patient who married for the first time at age 56. She and her husband quickly enjoyed a healthy and enjoyable sex life. I believe you can too.
Here are some things you can do to maintain and even improve intimacy with your husband during and after menopause – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You can enjoy sex after menopause.
For some women, the 35 years between age 15 and 50 are a monthly nightmare. And anyone who cares about them knows to stay away as much as possible for 10 days each month. Some husbands mark their calendar in advance so they won’t be blindsided by the anger, irrational behavior, or prickly responses they know will almost certainly come. But premenstrual syndrome doesn’t have to drive you crazy.
For the majority of women the emotional and physical changes that show up before each monthly menstrual cycle may be irritating, yet are tolerable. But for a small group of women those monthly premenstrual symptoms become downright debilitating. It affects their ability to work, their relationships with their husband and children, and their general ability to function in life. These desperate women fit the technical definition of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
I had one patient whose husband brought her to see me out of desperation. “It’s like she’s two different people!” he complained. Another patient came in after discharge from the hospital for a “mental breakdown” triggered by premenstrual syndrome. Women this desperate are willing to do almost anything just to feel “normal” again.
Can God heal you from mental illness? Yes! Of course He can!
That’s the short answer. But the real-life answer is often much more complicated, more painful, more excruciating.
When Rick and Kay Warren (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA) lost their son to suicide last year after a long battle with mental illness, it brought a new light to what some in the Christian church would rather not think about. Christians struggle with mental illness just like those who are not Christians.
That reality is nothing new. Those who know God have always had their share of emotional troubles. Job wished that he might never have been born. (Job 3:11) Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century London preacher, struggled with depression. Abraham Lincoln would today have likely been diagnosed with depression also.
So if emotional or mental illness is your burden, you are in good company.
Psychologists, preachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, and those struggling with mental illness themselves all have their own ideas about causes and cures, about how much the one suffering is responsible for his or her own illness, and what roll God plays, if any, in recovery.
When it comes to mental illness, like with most other problems we humans face, God’s answer is almost always, “All of the above.”