Hormones From Hell: Lynn

Theo wrote to Dr. Phil saying, "My wife is going through perimenopause and I don't know what to do about it. When we first met, she was this gorgeous person who lit up my life. Now, she can be edgy and verbally explosive. I've got to tiptoe and walk on eggshells around her.


"I can leave a dish in the sink, but when these perimenopausal conditions exist, that dish in the sink can be an act of war. The craziest things I've seen her do is, when she gets hot, she'll open the refrigerator door so she can cool off."


Lynn apologizes, saying, "I feel sorry for Theo because he never does anything deliberately to hurt me."


"Dr. Phil, I need some help," says Theo. "I want to fix it and make it better for her, but I'm not sure what to do."

"First off," says Dr. Phil, "For 30 years I've been dealing with women who have had this problem. Do you get and understand that this doesn't mean you are crazy or are going crazy? You're not. Know that six million women a day hit menopause."


Lynn replies, "I'm the oldest of four girls and we never talked about this. My mother ate Cheetos and Heath Bars for 10 years. Once she stopped doing that, menopause was over. Honestly, [Theo and I] have never talked about it."


"But do you know why?" asks Dr. Phil. "Because you were sitting there thinking that you were crazy! You don't go to your friends and say, 'I'm insane.'"


"Well, my friends have all had surgery with this," says Lynn. "I know no one who has actually gone through the physical experience."

Dr. Phil explains, "We want to turn the lights on all of this and make it understandable. There is a relationship component to it because this is [Theo's] list of reactions: 'I'm walking on eggshells ... She has two periods a month and they last a week a piece, and the PMS element is three to four days before each of those.'"


Dr. Phil continues, "Now do the math, you've got two periods, that's 14 days. Then you've got three to four days [of PMS], that's another eight days. Now you're talking 22 days, plus the time that you're pouting because she's hurt your feelings. And you guys don't know how to talk to each other, so basically, you have about a pretty good day-and-a-half a month!


"But the most important thing [Theo] says out of this is, 'I love my wife completely. I am totally committed to helping her with this. I will not let it come between us.'"

Dr. Phil continues, "I am a strong believer that we have socialized women badly about this. From long ago, moms talked about this saying, 'Soon you'll have 'the curse.' And then there's this sense of dread, where you're told, 'OK, you're heading into menopause, life's over.' You don't talk about it. You just endure it. But the truth is, most women ultimately say they feel nothing but relief from this, that it's a good and positive thing.


"So the idea is to come up with a plan. But it has to be a behavioral plan. You really do have to have emotional integrity where you no longer pretend it's not happening to you. Don't be shocked by it when it comes. There are so many things that you both can do that will change the behavior. Pay attention to the calendar. These aren't times to problem solve. And if she needs to vent some, let her vent. But use some boundaries as you go through that. And, Lynn, you've got to have this dialogue with yourself where this is something that you embrace because it happens to every woman."