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.
“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.
“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 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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Assistant Ed: Lori Lothian
Ed: Kate Bartolotta