Don’t Make Eye Contact: Relationship Survival Training for Menopausal Wild Women. ~ Donna Highfill

Via elephant journal
on Jan 23, 2013
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Fueneco App via Pinterest

I think my husband might be more attracted to me if I didn’t glare at him with disdain on a fairly regular basis.

These moments of hostility began around the time that menopause kicked in, and I’m not sure that it’s particularly good for our relationship.

The first time it happened, we were cuddled up on the couch watching football. Suddenly, I felt the slow, spreading heat of a hot flash start in my chest and spread to my face. This one was particularly intense, and I hoped I was not going to burst into flames like those people I once saw on 60 Minutes.

Just as the heat hit its climax, my husband kissed me on the forehead and said, “I love that you watch football. It’s so cool. You’re not the normal girl.” Just moments before, this comment would have resulted in my cuddling closer. But instead, the heat formed some kind of demented mirage, and I saw an attack.

Christina Rum via Pinterest
Christina Rum via Pinterest

“What?” I asked through gritted teeth. “You think I’m not normal because I like to watch football? What the hell kind of comment is that?” My over-heated body tensed up, and I felt an instant wave of fury wash over me.

My husband looked behind him as if perusing the room for a cross that might assist him in this moment of demonic possession. He found nothing but a statue of an owl, which didn’t help him at all.

“Hey, hey, hey,” he said as he removed his loving arm from my rigid shoulder, “That’s a compliment!”

I sat up slowly. I could feel the growl emanating from my very soul. “A compliment? Really? Not being a normal girl is a compliment? And what is normal, anyway? You want to explain that to me?”

Just as I asked the question, the rage seemed to leave my body. A small, miraculous exorcism had occurred without the use of a priest.

“Ah, well, I, ah …” he fumbled his response and looked to the ground in an attempt to locate it so he could pick it up and run away from me.

My body relaxed, and I smiled at him. “I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m not sure what that was all about. Let’s just chalk that one up to a hot flash, and I’ll get you something to drink,” I said in my best June Cleaver voice.

He looked slightly confused, but he accepted the olive branch.

An hour later, we were discussing a ridiculous call made by the referee. I felt an alarming sense of anger welling up in me, even though I didn’t particularly like either team.

Suddenly, I needed a Diet Dr. Pepper. I had no idea why; it just slammed into me like the desire to have children slammed into me when I was 24 years old. This desire was less cataclysmic but definitely just as strong.

Rosa Chaves via Ank | 2d studio in vorm via Pinterest
Rosa Chaves via Ank | 2d studio in vorm via Pinterest

“Hey honey,” I said, gritting my teeth to hold in the green pea soup, “Could you please get me a Diet Dr. Pepper?” My husband patted me on the arm, oblivious to the warning provided by the steam rising off my body. “I’ll get it in a minute, I want to see this next series of plays first.”

That was it. What kind of a-hole wouldn’t even get me a drink when I needed it more than heroin? Than crack? Than crystal meth?

“Don’t effin’ worry about it,” I said, “I’ll get it myself. I think I got the drinks last time but whatever. You just sit there on your ass while I go get it,” I said.

My husband realized he had fallen into that conversational hole that led him straight to hell the last time. He tried not to make eye contact. “No, no, I’ll get it. Really,” he said in a tiny little voice.

I was already halfway to the refrigerator, fueled by fury. “Yeah, now you’ll get it. Now that I’m already up and opening the refrigerator door. That’s perfect. Good job, honey. You’re the best.”

Please know that as every word was coming out of my mouth, my observer-self was thinking, “Wow, what a bitch. You are so mean. What’s wrong with you?” But it didn’t stop me from talking or hissing at my husband.

He became extremely still on the couch as if avoiding a cobra strike. He wouldn’t utter a word or turn my way. I didn’t blame him. A few minutes later, I saw a funny commercial and laughed hysterically. For some reason, that commercial struck a chord, and all the anger was gone.

“I wish you’d let me know what you find funny these days,” my husband mumbled.

I didn’t blame him. I have since bought him those books on how to survive in the wild in hopes that some of those tips will help him out. This includes things like, “Don’t make eye-contact” when dealing with a wild menopausal woman.

In the meantime, I am trying hot yoga, and meditation, and candles and herbs to keep me calm. They tend to work until … well, you know.



donna highfill Donna Highfill has worked with corporations and individuals in the change arena for more than 25 years, documented in her book “Real People, Real Change.” She believes in the people side of change, and has driven major corporate initiatives by working behaviors from the middle-out. Donna also loves to make people laugh, and because she loves laughing more than meetings she is expanding her speaking, writing, and coaching. Donna is a regular blogger at HuffPost50, and you can contact her at [email protected].



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20 Responses to “Don’t Make Eye Contact: Relationship Survival Training for Menopausal Wild Women. ~ Donna Highfill”

  1. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us. You are not alone! Many women have similar stores to tell. I whipped out the Menopause Symptoms Chart in my book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness and checked off the following symptoms: overly sensitive, tense like a rubber band waiting to pop, irritable, bursts of anger, hot flashes/hot flushes ….. Do you go to a Menopause Specialist? You might consider talking to your doctor about bioidentical hormone therapy to help balance your hormones and calm these difficult -marriage taxing symptoms!

  2. Ellen: I just downloaded your book today and am going to start reading. My symptoms are actually easing up now, but you persuaded me in your appearance on Huffpost Live to check out the calmer world of HRT. A menopausal specialist, like you, might be in my future. Of course then what will I write about? 🙂

  3. andeejo says:

    i'm an ayurvedic practitioner and an internal med doc, and love dealing with menopausal women! 🙂 hit me up by message if you like… aloe juice is something easy that might be of help, but i'd have to hear more of your other symptoms first! good luck! thanks for the giggle and the honest post!

  4. Ned Snyder says:

    … Just Remembered that menopause makes PMS look like kids stuff ~ Now I realize why women "of a certain age" have seemed particularly crazy lately. Roll with it Guys ~ and remember to duck!

  5. Eriknaa says:

    Sounds like me every month….yikes!

  6. Sounds very interesting. Once I get through all of my deadlines this week I might reach out. Or my husband might reach out first :).

  7. Amen. Crazy is part of the deal. And going "au naturel" guarantees some interesting interactions. I do think we should teach a menopausal survival class for those around us. Ducking would be the first skill taught :).

  8. Yes, it is pretty much like once a month only it's every day. I remember having dear friends until a week before my period, and then I would say something for which I would have to apologize for the next 3 weeks only to realize I was back at "that week" again. Now I say so much I've just quit apologizing :).

  9. Sounds similar to my client who is 7 months pregnant. Thanks for the chuckle.

  10. Now you've made me feel better. At least I'm not pregnant :).

  11. Janie Emaus says:

    My husband is getting angry at me for blaming everything on menopause. But it's true!

  12. Enchanted Seashells says:

    Oh you really hit the nail on the head. Sometimes I get so mad at him I feel like smoke comes out of my ears, but I'm not really mad at anything substantial. Oh to be crazy!

  13. My friend swears that working out has helped tremendously with hot flashes and mood swings. The only thing that I've experienced that has come close, was having PMS during a full-moon. Now that I've been surgically altered (ha!) and my hormones have stabilized on their own, that doesn't happen anymore. Now I'm just waiting for when the hot flashes begin. Good times.

  14. Lisa Shiroff says:

    I read somewhere that our swings during PMS and menopause are the result of unexpressed emotions, repressed thoughts, opinions, etc. that we hold back until our hormones tell us we've hit saturation point and we explode. I refuse to look up whether or not there is actual science backing up the theory because it kind of suggests we're just belatedly giving them what they deserve, doesn't it?

  15. It is true, and tell him a perfect way to make us angry is to get angry at us for blaming it on menopause. Now I've confused myself, which is also a side-effect of menopause.

  16. Thank you! If I have one more woman read this and say, "Oh, your poor husband!" I might just wail on them for a bit. They have no idea what I DON'T say :).

  17. They are good times, all in all, because we develop this community of people who understand. I have to admit that hot yoga was helping me with the moods, but then my skin started burning from the heat. The instructors blamed it on all the animal fat I eat, which is probably correct. I think all that extra fat was actually making me broil.

  18. Interesting thought. It's weird how, no matter what women go through, it ends up being something repressed that we are responsible for . . . when you look at the number of changes we go through physically, I'm pretty sure this one might be just physical. Especially since it's starting to "wear off" as the height of my menopause diminishes. I don't know, maybe I'm repressing something I don't know about, but I've never had an issue with expressing myself. Just ask my husband :).

  19. […] humour failure This one has been written about a lot lately, and I admit to having a good laugh at Donna Highfill’s post the other day about growling (to put it politely) at her husband. One night, I got so angry at the […]

  20. Susan Hines says:

    Don't know if anyone is checking this now. Great article. I always get that feeling and I think "boy do I feel sorry for the next person I see". For me I do think the feelings that I have are suppressed and it's not pretty when I start letting it out. Jeez, I need help, but the things I'm bitching about are real. I just usually try to be "nice".