As a husband, if your wife is approaching or experiencing menopause you may feel frustrated and powerless. You may feel like you’re watching “body-snatchers;” the wife you had come to know seems long gone, and you’re not sure you know – or like – the person you wake up next to now. What can you do to help your wife navigate menopause and midlife?
For some women midlife is only a mildly challenging season of transition; she may only need a little extra grace and encouragement from you. For others this is a time of major life disruption physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. If so, remember that your wife didn’t wake up one day and decide to make your life miserable. Some women feel like a complete victim to their changing hormones.
I’ve written to wives about what they can – and “should” – do in being who God needs them to be during their midlife season. But today I’m talking to you as a husband. I’m giving you the “inside scoop” on what can help your wife.
And as many men have discovered, “happy wife, happy life.” Yes, that’s oversimplified. But helping your wife navigate menopause is also helping yourself.
Learn to Feed Yourself
God never intended for one human being to be the entire source of life for any other human being. Many husbands fall into the trap of looking to their wives to make them OK. Your marriage has become primarily about getting your emotional and physical needs met.
That’s not what God intended marriage to be about. If you look to a woman – any woman – to fill you up, validate you, make you a man, you will either end up disappointed, or you will end up exploiting her.
You are responsible for learning to feed yourself. And your wife cannot be the only source of nourishment.
That means you need two things:
- A deep ongoing personal emotionally close relationship with God. You must learn what it’s like to go to Him first for your deepest soul needs.
- A deep ongoing personal connection with other men, brothers on the journey. You challenge each other, lift each other up, encourage and pray for each other.
Where are you getting your deepest needs met? Many men struggle here – first of all to simply acknowledge your heart needs, and then to find healthy ways to get those needs met. But it’s something you can learn.
See Intimacy as an Invitation
Yup, we’re going there. Some women have an increased sex drive in midlife, but many find their libido decreasing. I regularly hear from husbands who become exasperated and desperate when their wives seem to withdraw from sex.
Sex is not an entitlement. Remember that Jesus, the most fully alive human person – a man – was never married, never had sex. He had the same sex drives as you do. And like Him, you can learn to daily submit your sexuality to your Heavenly Father.
But sex is important. Your feelings and desires matter, a lot.
If your married life has been reasonably healthy in the past, learning to “work with” your wife’s changing sexuality may be all that’s needed. Most women in midlife struggle with all the “stuff” that life seems to dump on her. Don’t assume; talk with her about what’s burdening her, and see where you can help.
See yourself as being the invitation for your wife to come closer. Her sexual arousal is likely to take longer than in the past; take the time! Learn to seek your wife’s heart before seeking her body. She’s much more likely to engage in sexual intimacy the safer she feels with you.
Remember that intimacy is not primarily about taking the clothes off your body. It must involve taking the clothes off your heart and mind also, and making a safe place for your wife to do the same. The best sex is when husband and wife are “naked and unashamed” physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
If you’re the typical man who loves to fix things, awesome! God made you that way. The world needs you to make things better, to fix things.
And your wife needs you in that way too.
One frustration many husbands feel is that they can’t “fix” their wives in going through menopause. Her emotions are less predictable. She’s irritable and struggles to even say why. She feels crazy, and feels embarrassed about feeling that way. Your wife is still responsible for her responses and actions. (And wives can be toxic too.) But you can help.
Listening to your wife really does help her. It may feel as though you’re not doing anything, but you are. She needs to be heard, understood, listened to. When she feels heard it actually changes the biology and chemistry in her brain in a positive way. Tweet that.
You may struggle to stay engaged when you feel your wife is being unreasonable, when you can’t understand, when she doesn’t want your advice. But please don’t leave – either emotionally or physically. Stay and listen. Ask her questions, not to quiz her but to understand more. That truly does help her. And remember, her brain actually changes as she feels heard.
And pray for her, and with her. I have many wives tell me they wish their husbands would pray with them more. One wife going through menopause told me how much it helped when her husband prayed for her and invited the Holy Spirit into their struggles, their marriage, their bedroom. It changed everything, and their intimacy became deeper than ever.
You Can Help Your Wife
Don’t abdicate. Don’t run away. You can definitely help your wife navigate menopause and midlife.
And a couple resources you might suggest to your wife:
Your Turn: If you’re a husband trying to help your wife navigate menopause and midlife, what has that been like for you? What are you doing to help her? Leave a comment below.
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- If your wife is navigating menopause and midlife you may feel frustrated and powerless. Here are three important things you can do to help her. Tweet that
You CAN Navigate Menopause and Midlife
As a woman in midlife you may be tempted to believe you’re a victim to everything that’s changing. But that’s not true. You can choose to become the navigator of your life starting now.
Join me in the Navigating Midlife online course, and discover how this season can become the best season of your life.