Yesterday I talked to a couple of guys about what I am doing. The topic inevitably led to PMS and men’s perspectives on it. Even usually outspoken men became somewhat “shy” when it come to this subject. Their voice turned lower, their gaze uncertain.
“In my younger days, I thought all my girlfriends were insane, or for that matter women were insane. But I tried to endure it and just suffer through it as best I could.” “I just tried to leave them alone.” There was a familiar helplessness in the men’s voices, a helplessness I often hear from women. In the relationship dance of PMS, who is taking the lead? If both partners are equally uncertain about their steps or moves, this seems to guarantee an awkward dance. Does it not?
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Since we can’t really “sit in each other’s shoes,” we can’t completely understand what each other is going through. PMS is very painful for women who experience it. And it seems that the same is true for men who are at the receiving or witnessing end of it.
In a study at the University of Washington, researchers found that 75 percent of men reported that their lives were moderately to greatly disrupted by their partners’ PMS. In fact, men may experience a prolonged emotional hangover even after women have already returned to their “happy” state. The study showed that men’s marital dissatisfaction often continues through the women’s period and into the post-menstrual phase. In one study, 75 percent of men coped with PMS by expressing anger, withdrawing, or ignoring the situation.
Intimate relationships are dynamic – one person’s behavior triggers a reaction in the other, and vice versa. The menstrual cycle, like all long, predictable biological rhythms, has a stabilizing effect on our bodies and behavior as well as those of our loved ones through pheromones – hormones that are transmitted through the sense of smell. So PMS is contagious after all. No wonder many women say that their mates have PMS too, and sometimes even worse.
Suffering is contagious. Just like joy and laughter, when we suffer, we can hardly contain it within us. Inevitably we cause suffering upon those around us, especially those who love us and we love. Both men and women will learn the relationship dance of PMS better if we seek to understand what the other person is going through. And this understanding often starts with an open and sincere dialogue. It is a difficult conversation for sure. But if we speak our truth, from our heart, everything else will fall into place…
P.S. If you have a story, please share it. It may change someone’s life. It may change yours. Let’s break the silence. Let’s speak up and help and learn from one another.