Menopause is an important milestone in a woman’s life, but it can prove to be a difficult time. She may find it hard to navigate all of the changes happening to her mentally, emotionally and physically, while still having to keep up with daily responsibilities and obligations. During this time, some find that a great deal of strain is placed on interpersonal relationships, and that loved ones feel that the woman they know and love seems to have changed.
Some women are able to make a smooth transition with little disruption to their way of life or that of those closest to them. For others, however, the transition is not easy and the relationship most adversely affected could be their marriage.
What the Studies Say About the Link Between Menopause and Divorce
“A study conducted by AARP found that over 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, which happen to also be during menopausal years”
This time period in a woman’s life may carry a general term, but it involves specific symptoms. These include night sweats, hot flashes, lower sex drive, mood swings, headaches, vaginal dryness and weight gain. Biologically, there is also a significant shift in hormone levels.
A woman’s body starts to process less estrogen as well as oxytocin, the hormone that is associated with such feelings as love and the desire to care for others. If she is experiencing several of these symptoms, in addition to drastic changes in hormone levels, then she may seem like she is not the same person her spouse knows and loves.
There may be changes in her mood, how she feels about herself and how she feels about people close to her. There are close to 50 million menopausal women in North America, and these symptoms can persist over a period of five years. For some women, hormonal changes begin as early as 40.
This life-changing period in a woman’s life is likely to have some impact on her marriage. With divorce rates consistently near 50%, half of all couples who marry end up dissolving their union. For couples over the age of 55, the divorce rate is actually rising.
A study conducted by AARP found that over 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, which happen to also be during menopausal years.
A 2018 study in the Journal of Menopausal Medicine found that menopause-related symptoms such as vaginal dryness and decreased sexual desire led to sexual disharmony within marriages. The study also found, however, that this disharmony could be caused by other factors such as health problems of the spouse, changing sexual expectations of men, and carryover from prior marital dissatisfaction.
Does Menopause Cause Divorce?
“According to experts, the number one reason for divorce is lack of communication, which may be an issue independent of this milestone”
For many, menopause and divorce seem to be synonymous. While this transition period and all of the stress that it can bring may put strain on a relationship, some couples are able to survive it and remain married. For others, there is a clear link between the onset of menopausal symptoms and the demise of their relationship.
According to experts, the number one reason for divorce is lack of communication, which may be an issue independent of this milestone. So, when trying to answer the question ‘does the menopausal period cause divorce?’ for some couples it does, but for others it does not.
What Are Women Really Going Through?
“During menopause, it is extremely important that both spouses make a conscious effort to nurture their relationship, and keep the lines of communication open”
There can be significant impact on a menopausal woman’s mental and psychological health. The changes in hormone levels can lead to such things as anxiety, irritability, sadness, lack of motivation, and overall mood changes. Many women also experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even feelings of aggressiveness.
Although being in a close interpersonal relationship with a woman during this time can prove to be difficult and sometimes volatile, it is important to remember that she is experiencing a range of changes both physically and mentally.
Exercise, healthy eating, avoiding alcohol, and finding effective coping mechanisms and stress outlets are all ways to counter the symptoms that may manifest. During this time, it is extremely important that both spouses make a conscious effort to nurture their relationship, and keep the lines of communication open.
There are biological reasons why a menopausal woman may be changing, and while difficult to navigate these changes, this period does not have to end in divorce.
Sources & References: