Being There

His wife is going through menopause and grieving the loss of her mother. How should he support her?

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You don't mention if you wife has sought help for her menopausal problems, but there are so many good approaches now that it is not necessary for women (or their partners) to suffer through this time of life "cold turkey." For example, hormone replacement therapy, whether one chooses an "all-natural" approach or a traditional medical approach, can be very effective. Often, however, a woman can become defensive if a man tells her she needs hormones. If there is another woman who is a friend to both of you, she might be able to broach this subject with your wife. Men often make the mistake of bringing up the subject of menopause during an argument, and this to a woman is an attack and a criticism. If there is some indirect way you can get information to her that will allow her more options, then certainly do that, but if this subject has become highly charged, it would be best to leave it alone.

One coping strategy that will help you get through this time is to stay in the present. This is simply a decision not to project problems into the future and not to do anything out of fear of the future. If your wife has a particularly bad day, you don't assume anything about tomorrow. Grief tends to come in waves and to last longer than most people think reasonable. Hormonal mood swings also can come and go as if by magic. But the truth you know about God's love and comforting presence is that it will never change. No matter what you're going through, remember your love for your wife and God's love for you both.

If you turn frequently to the One who is always faithful to you, this difficult period will gradually become easier and more peaceful. It is a great gift to remain in a relationship when problems arise. It makes a statement of faith that blesses not only your wife but also you and everyone your relationship touches.

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Hugh and Gayle Prather
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