Joel's Story - Ellen Dolgen
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Joel’s Story

I’m a firm believer in sharing. When we share our stories, we help others who are in the same perimenopause and menopause boat.  If you’d like to share your story, please email it to me at .

Here is Joel’s Story, the husband of a menopausal woman:

The biggest issue for me with my wife’s menopausal changes was having a daughter entering adolescence at the same time. It was a hormonal sandwich. It coincided with the downturn of the economy, and our family moving to a new city. And my wife lost her clients because of the economy, which created a lot of stress.

So there was a lot of transition in our lives, especially for her. I was driving the machine that was doing all the change, so I was feeling guilty on some level. When I proposed moving out of Los Angeles and going to Portland to change our lifestyle, she couldn’t have a solid discussion about it without having all these other things triggered.

But to give her credit, she still tried to find her gut instinct even during the foggy-mind period. If I would propose something and she couldn’t mentally process it, she’d always go to her gut and say, “I know we need to do this, even though I can’t feel it or understand it right now.”

I kept moving forward and she would say yes, but in her eyes, it didn’t look like a yes. It looked like I don’t know. She couldn’t focus.

I felt very alone, because I was doing something that was initially her idea, trying to move forward and keep our family sane, but at the same time I didn’t have a partner who was fully engaged in the process. Combined with the adolescent daughter, it felt like the perfect storm.

My wife knew she was in perimenopause pretty much from the very beginning, but I didn’t know what that really meant. I went with her to some Beverly Hills specialist, and it just felt kind of surreal. These women have to go in and have all these creams and supplements and things. I thought, Somebody’s making a fortune here from women who are very confused.

All these difference factors colliding may have been our saving grace though, because it was so bad that any change looked good. Instead of saying, I want my life back, my wife was saying, I hate my life.

Fast forward three and a half years, we are in Portland and my wife loves it. She uses the “L” word. I love Portland. And after many doctors, she’s managed to find the perfect concoction of medications to get her through the whole process. That’s not to say there are not ups and downs, but I’ve never seen her happier.

As for my daughter, I think my wife’s menopause crisis exacerbated an already existing problem: a mom who was very busy, who was not always available physically. That turned into a mother who was kind of trapped in her own process, no longer available emotionally either.

Luckily, my wife is not one to take her depression and go to bed. She searches for solutions or better answers. I give her a lot of the credit for continuing to pursue answers, talking to people, trying different types of doctors, a lot of different hormonal regimens, and things like that. I don’t even remember all the different things she tried. She was wearing a patch for a while, and there were all these different things.

As for me, I had to fix up our house in L.A. to rent. I had to move us to another state and get us in temporary housing for a year while I tore down another house, rebuilt it, and keep my business afloat at the same time.

I was a part of her process, as much as she would let me in. But at the same time, I had to get this house done and all these other things. It felt very isolating. We were in a new city. My wife didn’t have any friends. My daughter didn’t have any friends. It was a whole different culture, different climate, different everything.

The hardest thing was being in this unfamiliar place, going through what they both were going through. I have to say it was pretty much the worst year or two of my life. We were both very determined to keep moving forward and find solutions and not dwell in our pool of pity. We may have lost a certain amount of intimacy because of the menopause stuff, but we did get through it. I think we are certainly in a much better place than we were three years ago.

I’ve been married before, and my first wife had a lot of hormonal imbalance. I lived in Portland with my first wife. So part of my exhaustion came from feeling like, oh, here we go again. I don’t know if I can do this twice. And then I have a daughter, so thrice. But we made it.

I feel that I lost a bit of my own life in the process. A person just want to be able to focus on themselves sometimes. That’s when I do my building projects, and I have my career of course. But it does feel like I’ve invested an awful lot of my life into dealing with hormones and trying to find the balance.

I’ve been fortunate to be with wonderful women. I still love my first wife. I had nothing against that whole process. It’s just at some point, I think, man, I need to go skeet shooting or something.

I was in my 20s/30s with my first wife, so the recovery was quicker then. I mean, I got divorced and I met my current wife and I got married and had a kid. Built a couple houses, did all this stuff. But I don’t have the same amount of energy at 50 anymore. This second time I was much more affected. And of course, I have the day-to-day connection with my daughter that takes a lot of my focus and attention too. I am older, and I can feel it. I still feel like I’m in recovery mode right now.

My wife and I are in a better place today than we have been in years. I don’t know if it’s all due to going through menopause together, but going through adversity together does create a bond. I think we are strengthened through it and we’re closer. We’re able to speak more frankly and we don’t get as triggered as before.

If I was to offer any advice to husbands in similar situations, I’d say, “Don’t take it personally, because you may be the target, more often than not, of reactive hormonal things that have nothing to do with you. Try to be as involved as possible in your wife’s process, because when somebody has a foggy mind, it’s hard for them to even hear the potential solutions out there.”

It’s really important for husbands to keep a clear head and not take their wife’s struggles or outbursts or symptoms personally. It’s hard for some guys to do that, especially when your partner is turning on you for no apparent reason. It’s so easy to get defensive. But the husband has to know what the wife is going through. Both of them have to know. We talk about educating 30-year-old women, but 30-year-old men need to know about the upcoming changes, too. Otherwise, by the time the woman catches on to what’s going on with her, the guy is already out the door.

Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN!


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