Saturday, 26 January 2013

Menopause – plan to make it easy

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, yet have lacked the creative energy and time to do so – which I feel is a common issue for peri-menopausal and to an extent post menopausal women.

We all slow down with age and can manage less. However, women may experience a much more acute onset of body limitations than do men.

Fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and lack of the emotional energy necessary to persuade others to help out are common issues faced by women during menopause. Things get a bit better after menopause but it’s likely one will never be the same again. For example, working over night to get a job done will be harder and recovery from loss of sleep will take days.  

Medical, nutrition and life style solutions are important and need to be considered at leisure rather than in emergency situations, but they will not magically put things back the way they were and anyway, one is slowing down due to age anyway. Strategic change is essential.

Obviously, one needs to plan for menopause and mobilise the family to get things done and maintain standard of living etc. Study of likely issues, risks and solutions thereof is obviously very important.

You need to be ready to identify the problems and start implementing no regrets solutions before peri menopause starts. A woman experiencing a bad menopause may not have the emotional or physical strength to insist on help, especially if a partner and children are righteously antagonistic and aggressively ensure that “cranky bitch” does not impinge on their good life.   

Ideally one should go into menopause with grown children, a low care garden and a well maintained home with labour saving devices.

Now is the time to hire a cleaner for the house to lift the burden of heavy and time consuming housework. A woman who has worked, raised children and supported her husband definitely DERSERVES support and time off at this time. It’s not a gift, it should be a right.

Ideally also the husband will have advanced well in his career and the house and other large expenses will already be paid off (e.g. car, house renovations, children’s education etc). Hence, the family could afford a reduction in working hours of the lady experiencing menopause – even a year or two off work during the worst of it would be nice depending on symptoms and career.

If time off work is not possible, then the family should chip in to shoulder part of the home-work load of their wife and mother. Usually women my age work and do most of the housework. This cannot continue. Rather than solve (or not solve) the problem through fighting and agrimony, the family should sit down together and decide who does what, when and how. The male leader of the household will then need to oversee the solution so that the lady does not suffer undue stress dealing with reluctant helpers and thus just withdraw to suffer alone.

The above woud have helped in my situation. I’m sure other people can adapt or improve on the advice.. The basic concepts are awareness, planning, support, generosity and goodwill.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Mid life and illness - Advice when considering an affair ....

A reader left the following comment on Why an affair might be justified ...and I present my humble advice here:

I am struggling with this very issue right now. I am a 46 year old male with many health issues but I want to have the sexual intimacy that my wife cant give me because of health issues on her part. We have been married for 10 years now, and I love her very much, I don't want to devorce her, and she loves me as well. We have been through so much together. But my heart is divided with someone else and I just don't know what to do.

I understand your situation – very upsetting and seemingly no way to resolve the situation win-win. Sadly, many of us have been there. I offer this rather long advice in the hope you will find something that helps.

With regard to your current situation – when in doubt don’t. Wait a while and see how things go. The high that comes from falling in love lasts about 2 years. You’ll see more clearly then.  I’d also suggest stepping aside from your own emotions and rationally evaluating life with the second lady vis a vis your current life and perhaps who you could attract as a free man. Perhaps a trusted friend would help you think it through?

Often the person you fall in love with first is not the one for your whole life, but someone who is there and is willing to have a relationship with a married person. Has the lady perhaps been trying to trap herself a good catch? Is she willing to sacrifice her own feelings and wait for you?    

Another word of caution – as told by a divorce lawyer – many people divorce and remarry to find themselves in the same situation.  The exciting girlfriend changes into the cranky wife who does not want much sex, but the man has lost his family and is much poorer.  Hence, the wise man may choose to work on his current relationship or recruit a secret girlfriend and continue to enjoy the comfort of his home and family as he gets older.  

That said, I think of my friend Clarissa who has stuck by her sick older husband over many years and has therefore foregone family, a comfortable life and sex. There will be no comfortable home or grandchildren. They loved each other once, but now hate each other and her chances are gone. She’s just a source of money and housekeeping and occasionally dodges flying crockery and accusations she ruined his life. Obviously she should have jumped ship when she was younger.    

Advice assuming no current outside attachment -

Becoming attached to a new sex partner is a natural result of having sex.  I’d suggest if your primary aim is to find sexual intimacy without leaving the marriage, you need to back off quickly when you meet someone that seems like a soul mate. Also, make it clear to any new sexual partners that you are not looking for an exclusive relationship. Many men run long term relationships parallel to their marriage, but they need to control their own emotions and avoid women who are looking to nab themselves a good catch.  They also need to control their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases – so really safe sex, no playing outside the relationship/s and tests for everyone before getting close and personal.

So due to this and also due to moral issues and issues of unintended entanglement, I’d suggest trying to work out the health and sexual issues first before seeking sex outside marriage. I’m convinced many people forgo sex and intimacy and even affection because of health issues that could be solved and because they are unwilling to think outside the square and innovate.  I think the biggest barriers to sexual happiness lie in our lack of knowledge and our assumptions and our unwillingness to really work on solving problems and building sexual happiness.

The first thing to know is that sex issues cannot be solved with ultimatums or overnight – you make take time to grow in knowledge and to work out how to interact.  Set some milestones for evaluation of progress. If a spouse is truly not interested, don’t make a nuisance of yourself by demanding sex. Perhaps you are meant to be brother and sister rather than a married couple? Don’t sentence each other to hell on earth as you struggle over unmet needs.    

At some stage recruit your wife to support and take part in the project – but expect her to need convincing and maybe take some time to come on board. This is normal, especially if one feels very run down. You will probably have to lead and if you want success you will need to make some changes in yourself – these changes I suggest will be useful whatever you do and whoever you are with.   

Start right now working towards being the best possible person you can be – see Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life blog for the married man action plan. Get fit, be well groomed, take care with washing and basically be a good, functional, positive, assertive happy person. Your wife will be more attracted and more likely to make an effort and less likely to be put off by things like unwashed private parts. If you do decide to find a new partner, you’ll find a better one.

Study up on sex, intimacy and relationships. There is heaps of stuff online and even checking out porn sites is useful (tho I soon bored of it). Keep an open mind and see what other people do, why people do things, what motivates them and so on. Your wife may be facing menopause soon, so research that as well. Knowledge is power!

Armed with your new knowledge and viewpoint, ID all the barriers to wonderful intimacy and think of solutions. It is obvious you need to improve your health as much as you can. You may need to solve some health issues with the help of your doctor, but don’t go for heroic solutions that involve massive surgery, drugs with nasty side effects etc. For example, if the lady’s libido has disappeared, ask the doctor to check out her hormones and possibly prescribe something. If a man cannot maintain an erection or indeed if he can and the lady cannot orgasm or accomodate a penis in her vagina, he might buy a smallish, well made vibrator from an adult shop or online.    

You may need to redefine what you mean by sex and reassess what you consider normal and acceptable.  I’m reliably informed people who are paralysed enjoy sexual encounters, but perhaps not the way the able-bodied can. You simply need to work with what you have. Within this context I’d seriously suggest massage as a way of connecting and building intimacy. Just cuddling and caressing each other is very pleasurable. Also, hand jobs and oral sex are great ways to release sexual tension and don't require a working vagina.

Sometimes I cannot have sex due to health issues and I am so happy Awesome is satisfied with lots of cuddles and oral sex only. I make sure I do my best for Awesome and he in turn accepts my efforts in good grace – in fact, he enjoys himself very much! If sex is off the menu altogether I’ll offer a shoulder or foot massage.  

I also need to point out sexual response of many women is responsive rather than spontaneous, so you need to start foreplay before they want to have sex. Hence, agreeing just to start with something enjoyable may create the opportunity to escalate. For me this is especially so if I am unwell.

I hope this has helped. Please feel free to ask for more advice or to let us know how you went. Good luck with resolving your issues.