The most current reports of divorce have shown that divorce rates for over-50s increased the most in the recent year compared to those of other age groups.
Likewise, a number of studies have shown that, in this age group at least, women tend to instigate divorce more than men. No divorce is the same, and there are hundreds of different reasons why couples divorce. Similarly, there are hundreds of different, unique effects and results of divorce (both good and bad). Simply, there is no “catch-all” solution or strategy to dealing with divorce. Nonetheless, even if a divorce is amicable and done for all the ‘right’ reasons, it can still be an incredibly painful process, especially if there are children involved.
While it may only be a very small factor in a much larger picture, the menopause can affect your married life and can be one of the reasons pushing some women towards divorce. Hormones affect how one sees their world and their reality, and so a change in hormones can change their perception. In fact, oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone – that is, the bonding hormone that releases sentiments of trust in and care for another person) decreases with drops in estrogen. As hormone levels decline, the ‘mothering instinct’ usually so prevalent in a woman’s life may also start to fade. Because of this, many women in their 40s and 50s begin having less of an urge to care for their partner. This effect, coupled with mood swings, irritability, and a loss of libido, can put a real strain on a relationship.
…if a relationship was healthy and strong before symptoms started to kick in, these changes might be confused for changes in how you view your partner.
If there were already problems in the relationship, these hormonal changes and menopausal symptoms can push some women to say, ‘enough is enough’. Likewise, these difficult symptoms can highlight how supportive your partner is. Do you find them understanding? Are they kind? Will they help you change the bedsheets after you’ve woken up from night sweats or do they have a tendency to complain about how your symptoms are affecting them? Difficult times often reveal the most about a person’s character, and it’s not uncommon for women to feel unsupported by their husbands or partners during this transition. Finally, if a relationship was healthy and strong before symptoms started to kick in, these changes might be confused for changes in how you view your partner. Are you upset with your husband or partner because you truly believe that they did something wrong, or because your hormones are making you feel upset? It can be hard to tell. When all of a sudden, a perfectly healthy relationship starts feeling heavy and full of friction, it’s easy to think there is some underlying problem between the two of you that, in reality, doesn’t exist. This can especially be the case when women are uninformed about the menopause, and can’t understand why they are feeling the way they feel.
It’s a good idea to have an open conversation with your partner about the menopause and it’s symptoms…
But remember: the menopause will pass. While your estrogen levels will never be as high as they were before (and therefore, your oxytocin levels might not either), the insufferable moods, the irritability, the feelings of anger, disgust, distrust and everything else, will eventually fade. It’s important to consider the state of your relationship in and out of the context of the menopause. Again, divorce is difficult, regardless of whether it ends well or not, so it’s important to be aware of the real causes behind the frustrations you’re feeling and the problems in the relationship. It’s a good idea to have an open conversation with your partner about the menopause and it’s symptoms, so you can gently remind them from time to time that your loss of libido and feelings of anger, resentment, frustration or impatience (and so on) are an inevitable cause of the menopause and will eventually pass.
Dealing with divorce right before or during the transition can be immensely challenging.
And of course, many women are already divorced by or before the time of the menopause, which can equally add extra weight and tension in their everyday lives. This too is important to recognize! Dealing with divorce right before or during the transition can be immensely challenging. As always, it’s useful to be well-informed about the menopause, the symptoms, and the resources you can take advantage of to help ease the process. Most importantly, you are not alone. Every woman goes through the menopause, and many women can understand the difficulty of dealing with divorce alongside dealing with the menopause. You can most certainly find the support you need to make the process easier!
Put simply, whether you’re dealing with new or old difficulties in your relationship, or just coming out of one, the menopause can be quite unwelcome in your life as it can make everything feel 10 times worse. It’s important to be open about your experience, about your reality, and about the menopause so that the people around you (both your friends, family, and partner) can support you in the best way possible, and understand what you’re going through.