Sunday, 29 January 2012

Should there not be a market for advice on how to manage a marriage based on irreconcilable differences?

I’ve been talking this over with Clarissa and we believe there is a huge gap in the market. There is heaps of advice on how to “mend” a broken marriage with the assumed goal of rebuilding a marriage-style relationship. Take for example Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life – it focuses advising men on improving attraction and therefore increasing the frequency of sex.

There are heaps of people who are married – who are not having sex, will never have sex, are not best friends and can barely tolerate each other. Their task is to eek out a purposeful and at least tolerable life often within difficult circumstances.

So let’s weed out those who face transient or solvable problems, such unemployment or illness, or indeed menopause – we are left with a hard core of people who have irreconcilable differences, yet experience such high barriers to divorce, that they feel they have no choice but to remain married. They know the relationship is permanently over. Who advises them?

A rose grows in hard ground, assailed by aphids - yet provides pleasing blooms that brighten a streetscape of neglected rental houses...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Does divorce make you happier?

The press release for:

Does Divorce Make People Happy?
Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages
By Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley

Contains the following quote:

Why doesn't divorce typically make adults happier? The authors of the study suggest that while eliminating some stresses and sources of potential harm, divorce may create others as well. The decision to divorce sets in motion a large number of processes and events over which an individual has little control that are likely to deeply affect his or her emotional well-being. These include the response of one's spouse to divorce; the reactions of children; potential disappointments and aggravation in custody, child support, and visitation orders; new financial or health stresses for one or both parents; and new relationships or marriages.

What have I observed?  Some marriages are really, really horrible and thus anything is better! As one friend mentioned – “I would not have divorced if the situation was not so terribly awful”.  Curiously, in two marriages I know of, one party seemed to suffer more than the other and did not agree that divorce was necessary (this is consistent with the findings of the quoted study).

I believe some people have higher expectations and needs from marriage and thus they are more likely to be the unhappy party – e.g. a higher need for affection, friendship, intimacy, sex etc. Perhaps the other party has another focus, say work, and the marriage relationship contributes much less to their satisfaction with life.  

Loneliness and alienation, followed closely by leaving home and financial issues, appear to be the matters most likely to make the divorced people I meet unhappy.   

I met some really decent men when I was dating. They believed the right thing to do was divorce and then find a new partner. Before the divorce they thought it would be a very easy matter to find a new and wonderful relationship. While some people get happily settled quickly, others take years to settle into a new relationship. Hence, MASSIVE loneliness!   

Non-custodial divorced parents cannot even rely on their kids for company and affection as they may see their children for only a very small amount of time. There may be no more dropping them off to school, driving them places, helping them with homework or just seeing them around the house.

For a single man, used to living in a warm family home, a room in a boarding house or a flat can be cold, impersonal and lonely. Renting rooms is a cheap way to deal with financial challenges, but one may have to deal with surly fellow tenants and lack of security of tenure. Teenage students can deal with boarding houses much easier than middle-aged men still getting over a traumatic relationship and separation and grieving for a better life lost.   

Now I’ve also met some men looking to form a new relationship while married so they don’t have that awful “single” time and enjoy some comfort while they wait for the kids to grow up. On paper that looks like a good strategy – but they face huge challenges finding a good match because really suitable ladies simply won’t entertain such an arrangement.

So does divorce make you happier? Well for some people it does and for some not. It can remove one from truly awful and unhappy situations, but one also has to work really hard to re-establish happiness, it usually does not just happen! .  
Moving to that sweet spot in the light can be so hard, especially when surrounded by darkness ...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

One day I woke up and the black cloud had lifted

I’m sharing this to provide hope to ladies and their partners, just as someone did for me….

....the background …even for a positive thinker, menopause can be very wearing – it just seems like the nightmare goes on forever!  

I’ve only ever heard, second hand, one lady say the nightmare can go away – it’s such a pity positive stories are not shared!

Most people just grumble about the negative impacts or NOT TALK ABOUT IT! In privacy ladies whisper about the hot flushes, sleepless nights and their brains turning to mush.   

One lady, a stranger, told me quietly, that her friend woke up one day and was herself again – from one day to the next! 

I would not say my change for the better was overnight – but certainly over a matter of weeks I noticed an improvement in memory, cognition and energy. This coincided with a cessation of cyclical libido changes.

Now I am not back to my old dynamic, unstoppable, superwoman self, but I have HOPE and I can leverage the extra energy, cognitive capacity and memory to work towards my goals and it is making a noticeable DIFFERENCE.

Ladies – don’t give up! There is an end. Out of the blue you will wake up and know you can be capable, smart and attractive again! Hold onto that thought and keep praying!

Hugs :-)
One day there will be buds and then there will be sunshine ....

...and the lids on the buds will lift and there will be so many bright and wonderful opportunities!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Delayed divorce due to care for kids, not mid life crisis or leaving to chase younger fertile women

There is another reason why marriages break-up in mid-life and its not primarily because men dump their now older and infertile wives in favour of younger, fertile women!  

Andreas – a long term friend and mentor and also a discussion partner on relationship topics points out men often stay for the children, then leave once the children are old enough. This would tend to happen for couples aged between 40 and 60, depending on when the children were born and perhaps with a peak around 50ish. Hence, the man might leave just as the wife was menopausal or post menopause.  

I’ve had men confirm they are staying with their wives for the sake of the children – in some cases, the wife has not been able to care effectively for the children and the father is the primary care provider.  

So we have goodly numbers of men leaving their wives just as they are starting to age noticeably due to oestrogen reduction. It would be oh so easy to construe this as “mid life crisis” and “younger women” and to of course blame the man. As Andreas observes “the wife then finds the reason of a younger woman, to make herself feel better -- so she doesn't have to accept that she did nothing (to save the relationship during those long years he stayed around and tried to patch things up for the sake of the kids)”.

To quote Andreas: “It is very popular to blame the man for everything.  But in my very limited observations, I'm not sure this is particularly fair. The man gets nothing but grief at home and when he looks elsewhere, he is blamed for the break up.”  Now of course, this could cut both ways – but we are focusing here on debunking the myth that mature aged men leave their post menopause wives because they have lost their physical attractiveness (and fertility).

SO ….  if your marriage is good, a rocky menopause will test it, but with good management you should get through it successfully and retain your loving relationship. If your marriage sucks, then you have a choice between making extra efforts to save it or accepting that the time to break-up is approaching and it has nothing to do with looking older or even perhaps with menopause, but a lot to do with the relationship not meeting your or your spouse’s critical needs.

Note: menopause can amplify or add to conflict and unhappiness within a marriage and provide the final impetus to separate and divorce. You need to study and understand what is happening and if necessary seek medical help. Don’t assume a woman has the ability to “buck up” or deliver what seem like reasonable outcomes. She may need her partner’s support more than ever to get through a very challenging period of her life.    

Sometimes life sucks in many ways at once - like this solitary bee that insisted on selfishly stuffing his legs with pollen and nectar while showing me his magnificent behind.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Post menopause women don't need to fear their husband will chase after younger and "fertile" women!

I’ve found reference again to how post menopause women are not attractive (since they are not fertile) and therefore at risk of their husbands running off with younger more beautiful women!!!!!!! I’ll not dignify the blog/post with a link.

This is an urban myth propagated by younger people who understandably do not find mature women attractive. People should be careful about accepting and propagating negative stereotypes. This particular one is untrue and very hurtful.  

I’ve met a good many mature men looking for affairs and divorced men looking for a second wife. None of them have said – “oh dear me, my wife is old and fat and thus unattractive and therefore I feel compelled to seek a younger and therefore more attractive option”. I mentioned the issue to Neville who is interviewing ladies re partnership and he was indignant and amazed that anyone could say older women are not attractive.

It is true however that middle aged men re-evaluate their lives (just as do women) and thus might choose to move on from a long term relationship – either in entirety or just sexually.  

The reasons I’ve been told by men for moving on sexually include:
·        Wife does not want to have sex with me or wife does not want to have enough sex with me.
·        Wife does not like me and does not have sex with me.
·        We are not compatible and I am looking for more than just boring sex.
·        Wife is not affectionate.
·        Wife is boring in bed and generally boring. 
·        Wife is a cranky harpy.
·        Wife is lazy and boring with poor grooming and presentation.
·        I (or wife) want to divorce.
There are also those sad cases where illness and disability cut short intimacy between a couple.  

Married men seem totally willing to overlook figure flaws and the effects of aging and take into account shared history, excellent mothering and housekeeping skills, diligence and self development, efforts at presentation and grooming and sexual compatibility and sexual participation. I suspect men still see the young girl they married when they look at their wife. It does not seem hard to keep a husband faithful though middle age and beyond.

I’ve also found unmarried men seeking a new wife and men seeking affairs quite willing to consider a woman their own age or in some cases older if desired sexual and other compatibility factors are present. It seems chemistry, connection and compatibility are much more important than being ‘young and fertile’. Indeed, Neville thinks lack of fertility is a definite advantage!          

My motto is “not older, better”! Please remember this and avoid being needlessly hurtful by propagating unfounded urban myths.

Thank you! :-) C  

Gum blossoms are attractive at all stages of their life cycle from bud to mature nut ... but one may not see their beauty until one is ready to see it!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Menopause, changes in the vagina and false allegations of cheating

I’m writing this post as a public service and hope thereby to prevent pointless break-ups in relationships due to false allegations of cheating.

What would you do if you suddenly had a malodorous yellow discharge? You know you’ve not been cheating, so that horrid DISEASE must come from HIM. You’d rush out and confront him – possibly even tell him to take his cheating ways and go! BIG MISTAKE!

One of my male friends was confronted by his girlfriend over his alleged cheating. He walked immediately and did not take her back after the doctor proved no STD (sexually transmitted disease) was involved. He felt trust between them was broken irrevocably.

One of my female friends broke up her 10 year relationship because she simply was not going to stand being cheated on! I met her boyfriend – he was tall, handsome and quite fragile emotionally. Poor them!  The relationship never recovered.    

I cannot blame the ladies in question since nobody talks about changes in the vagina and its mucus and it’s very hard to find information on menopausal changes when you use key words like “vagina” + “yellow mucus”.  The content addresses STDs and imbalances in the microflora of pre menopausal women. Key words including “menopause” will be more likely to gain information of use to menopausal and post menopausal women, as will “cervical atrophy” and “vaginal atrophy.” However, the message seems less clear than in the case of younger women.

Note: Cervical or vaginal atrophy is the broader medical condition causing malodorous yellow discharge and changes in mucus are usually the first sign of this. It occurs in distressing degree in 40% of women, so it’s better to run to the doctor at the first sign of mucus change.  

Here’s the potted explanation for the yucky, smelly yellow discharge that can occur in menopausal women:  

Lower levels of oestrogen lead to changes in the vagina. Less glycogen is released from the walls of the vagina and thus lactic acid producing bacteria are less likely to grow. Since the bacteria are not there to release lactic acid, the pH of the vagina increases. Consequently, the vagina is not protected against the growth of many other types of bacteria. Additionally, the cervix produces mucus with different characteristics and perhaps a different colour – possibly yellow (but with no bad smell).  

My mucus turned yellow about 14 months before my ovaries shut down. After about 6-8 months, I started to notice smells and differences in consistency. One week it was smelly feet smell, the next sweaty penis and some other smells that were bad and not similar to anything I knew. I spent a lot of time online researching and thinking on where the infections could be coming from – I was sure it was not an STD because I could trust Awesome, but I was terrified it could be.   

Note: If you suspect you have an STD, stop having sex and immediately see your doctor for tests. The tests are free in Australia with a Medicare card and they are as easy as self-swabbing, peeing in a bottle and a blood test.     

When I mentioned my concerns to Awesome – he was on guard. He asked if I was worried about him (cheating) – I said no, just worried he might catch something from me. He is a logical fellow – he knew it was not an STD, so he remained supportive.

My doctor was very helpful – he gave me a kit to swab the inside of my vagina (at the top near the cervix). That test revealed “normal” vaginal microflora. After questioning me about my last period etc (which was over 2 years previously) and about other changes he concluded I had cervical atrophy due to oestrogen decline and prescribed an oestrogen cream.   

I used the cream as prescribed and also used yogurt to re-establish a good crop of lactic acid producing bacteria. My vulva and vagina are back to some semblance of normality and there is no yellow malodorous mucus!!

The lessons:
  • If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted disease – or indeed any disease of the private parts, talk to your doctor before jumping to conclusions.
  • If you are in menopause and you experience changes in your vaginal mucus, talk to your doctor – there are simple tests and easy, cheap solutions.  
Hibiscus, Brisbane 2011