Can Menopause or Aging Cause Divorce?
- Can menopause cause a marriage to fail?
- Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
- Has menopause affected your relationship?
- How do you explain what’s happening?
- How do married partners deal with sex life changes?
- Can this be fixed?
There’s no doubt that hormones can have a tumultuous effect on a woman’s life, from the surge of hormones at the onset of puberty to their confusing retreat at midlife. These changes don’t just affect menopausal women, either. They can affect everyone in a woman’s orbit, including her spouse.
Case in point: New research suggests that the hormonal fluctuations that occur during perimenopause and menopause can significantly impact not only the woman herself but also her marriage. Studies show that during menopause, a higher number of women seek divorce.
What is this “menopause divorce,” and how does it affect couples in midlife?
Does menopause really have such an impact on a woman’s life – and by extension, her marriage – that it can cause couples to divorce? New data seem to support it.
Can menopause cause a marriage to fail?
There is a correlation between the age at which most women seek divorce and the onset of perimenopause or menopause (between 45 and 55).
Dr. Louise Newson, a menopause expert in the UK, has dedicated her career to providing treatment and support for women who are navigating menopause. In cooperation with the Family Law Menopause Project, Newson Health Research and Education conducted a survey of 1,000 women asking them about the effect of menopause on their relationships.
According to the survey, eight out of 10 women who reported symptoms of perimenopause or menopause reported overlapping marital issues. Seven in 10 said they believed those symptoms had a direct effect on the breakdown of their marriage.
Thinking about divorce but don't know where to start?
Our free download can help.
Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
Menopause is the natural transition of a woman moving beyond her child-bearing years. In Neolithic cultures, this time was when women were revered and became matriarchs of their community.
Modern culture has sidelined and pathologized much of women’s natural cycles. Menopause became interpreted through an industrialized healthcare lens that generally lacked awareness and understanding about it. Consequently, many women today go through menopause without much helpful information or support.
Menopause doesn’t just affect a woman’s reproductive system. It affects many other systems of the body, causing significant physiological, emotional, and psychological symptoms. Women navigating perimenopause and menopause often experience the following:
- Feelings of depression or irritability
- Loss of interest in sex
- Poor sleep
- Loss of energy
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes (also known as hot flushes)
- Vaginal dryness
Without a better understanding of menopause and how it affects mental health and the whole body, these symptoms can be especially challenging for women and their spouses. And the medical community has supported the view of menopause as a sexual “loss” instead of a natural process, leaving couples to view the symptoms they’re experiencing as negatives.
Has menopause affected your relationship?
Women in midlife still want and need intimacy, even if sex itself requires extra care due to vaginal dryness or hot flashes. But the drop in reproductive hormones is not only a female issue. While it gets far less attention, men go through their own hormonal transitions with a loss of testosterone at around the same time.
On top of the hormonal changes both spouses are experiencing, married partners often feel older and less attractive, which can further strain their marriage. The relationship can suffer when couples don’t understand what is happening to their hormones and bodies or how to communicate their feelings about it to each other.
How do you explain what’s happening if you’re not sure yourself?
Hormone levels have significant emotional components. During menopause, you may feel angry and impatient one moment and depressed the next. But how do you explain this to your spouse when you’re struggling to understand it yourself?
During menopause, estrogen and progesterone begin to decline. These hormones have a broad effect on many bodily systems including immune response, cardiovascular health, bone health, and brain function. During menopause, women also experience an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and brain fog.
Levels of the hormone oxytocin are also decreasing. Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone" and regulates emotional responses, bonding, trust, empathy, and positive communication. Dropping levels of oxytocin can result in us feeling less connected to the people closest to us.
Menopause doesn’t just alter your sex life. It’s a new phase that will affect many aspects of your life in general.
How do married partners deal with this change in their sex life?
The number-one cause of divorce is a lack of communication. When married couples can talk about the physical and emotional changes they’re encountering and listen to each other with empathy and understanding, they can often work through the sexual issues together.
Often, this requires the following:
In most cases, both spouses feel vulnerable when sexual intimacy breaks down. If you and your partner can talk through it together with honesty, it can make you feel more connected.
Looking at the situation from each other’s perspective can go a long way toward seeking a solution that works for both of you.
Life is busy, but taking alone time as a couple can do amazing things to spark a little romance that may have taken a backseat.
By midlife, many women have spent their lives taking care of everyone else. Menopause is the perfect time to relearn how to self-prioritize.
Speaking to your doctor
There are many things you may be able to do to lessen your menopause symptoms. Speak to a knowledgeable doctor about hormone replacement therapy, diet, supplements, and other options.
If menopause is affecting your marriage, you are not alone. Seeing a therapist together (or alone) can provide you with coping skills or ideas about how to create more intimacy in your marriage.
The menopausal years can be a trying time for women and their loved ones. Mood swings, night sweats, and other physical changes affect physical intimacy and so much more.
If menopause is a cause of divorce, can it be fixed?
Are you navigating midlife and feeling like you may have lost interest in your spouse or sex in general? These are common concerns. But divorce is a huge step. Getting the assistance of a discernment counselor or other trusted individual can help you gain clarity if you feel you may have fallen out of love with your spouse or are merely going through very natural feelings given this time and place in your life.
Divorce is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We’re here to help. At Hello Divorce, we want to change the face of divorce. We offer services and resources for anyone who is considering divorce, needing help with their ongoing divorce, or navigating life beyond divorce.