A Man’s Guide to Making PMS a Gift
The days or week prior to our women having their menstrual cycles can be extremely hard on them and us. Unfortunately, if we do not know how to navigate that time, we can make it much worse. If we have a few simple tools, however, we can make it a lot better.
Women’s hormones shift radically during this time of the month and as a result, they have a lot of intense feelings in their bodies that lead to strong emotions. The intensity of these bodily reactions can be difficult to contain and may lead to them having strong reactions to the things around them, most notably us as their partners. The reality is that they are tolerating a lot of bad sensations and impulses in their body and it’s very hard to maintain a rational, logical perspective on life.
This can actually be quite beautiful because it forces them to deal with the darker aspects of life. So many of us deny these darker aspects, our insecurities, our doubts, and our fears about the world. It is valuable for us to have a time in our lives when we really address this side of being human.
For many men and women it is at 3:00 in the morning, when you’re lying in bed and unable to sleep, that we come face to face with these thoughts. We find ourselves overwhelmed by anxiety about some aspect of life. Usually it is because the sensations in our bodies at this point are quite uncomfortable.
If we can inhabit these moments with consciousness and allow ourselves to feel these feelings, they can be quite transformative in helping us to be more empowered in our lives. Most of us spend far too much time working to avoid bad feelings, whether it be with coffee, work, our phones or some other intoxicant. If we learn to embrace them, we don’t have to spend so much time trying not to feel them and instead feel the relief that comes in inhabiting our pains.
If we can support our women to embrace the experiences of having their cycle, then they too can feel more empowered in their life. If on the other hand, we are just making them wrong for feeling ‘irrational’ and telling them they should be more logical, it will make them feel worse.
Here are four things that you can do to make it a lot better for both of you.
Step 1: Be Prepared!
Set it on your calendar. Know when it is going to happen. If you are prepared, then you are not blindsided by her suddenly having upset feelings. If you can be prepared for those kinds of reactions, you will not have such a hard time being in relationship to it.
Step 2: Love Goes a Long Way
Now that you have it in your calendar and you know when it is happening, do things that will be supportive of her feeling good in herself before it even hits. Give her a little note expressing your love, maybe a flower, an extra kiss. Little things that show your affection and your support. If she feels your love in this time, she is less likely to fall into a bad place and see you as a bad person who is causing her suffering.
Learn what she likes. Perhaps foot massages. Perhaps little kisses on the cheek, chocolate or maybe sex. Anything that can support her to feel good in herself so the bad feelings don’t dominate.
Step 3: Just Listening
This step is really important throughout your life with your partner, but especially during this time. It is hard to listen to our partner’s suffering and not want to help them feel better. We want to tell them how they can fix the situation and how they are thinking about it in a distorted way. Unfortunately this makes it worse. It gives them the message that they should be different.
If we can just listen and look them in the eye, then they get to share their experience in a deeply helpful way. Just listen to what is going on for her. Do not try to change her feelings. If she has the ability to vent whatever is happening for her, no matter how irrational it is, it will get out and it will move on.
If on the other hand, you are countering her negativity with some kind of optimism, then she’ll get more stuck in that negativity. I know it sounds crazy, but the best thing that you can do when she is being negative is to join her in that pessimism.
When my wife is worried about the world falling apart for X, Y, or Z reason, I try to join her. I’ll say something like, “Yeah. It is really scary that we are going to run out of money.” By joining her in it, rather than saying, “Do not worry. That is not going to happen.” She is able to feel soothed, she is able to feel company in that moment and it moves through really quickly. As a side note: of course this works for both men and women.
So try to stop yourself from fixing her problems or reassuring her and just listen. Look her in the eye, give her that presence and if anything, just thank her for sharing. Ask her if there is more of this she can share. To this day it impresses me how healing this type of simple attention is to our psyches.
Step 4: It’s Not (primarily) About You
The last thing that you could do is to not take it personally. Just keep reminding yourself over and over again that this is about her hormones and the transition in her body. It is valuable for her to get her feelings out and if you can remember that it’s not about you even if she is blaming you, then you can more easily stop yourself from getting defensive and instead you can support her.
This is not to say there is nothing important in what she is saying and that you should ignore her words. She may be communicating very valuable feedback for you that it would help to receive. But taking in her feedback is different from feeling triggered and defensive.
If she learns that you are there for her through this rough time of the month, then she will come to trust you more and her periods will likely be easier for her to get through because she knows she has that support.
Thank you for joining me for another episode. I would love to hear how you deal with your partner’s PMS. Please join the conversation below and I will see you next time for another episode.