“He was the sweetest man you could envision, now he’s horribly rude and cruel.” I hear this baffled worry from women all over the country. “She used to be soft and kind, now she treats me like her nastiest enemy.” Men are just as frustrated and confused. Something strange is happening for millions of men and women as their relationship moves into mid-life.
Often I think it’s evolutions little joke to split us apart and send us looking for new partners to propagate the species. But for those dealing with the stresses of midlife, it is no joking matter. The key to saving our sanity and keeping our relationship strong and vibrant is to know two inter-related life changes affecting men (and the women who love them) at mid-life: Male Menopause or Andropause and Irritable Male Syndrome. I sometimes think of them as a double whammy. But with a little understanding and help from those we love, we don’t have to let them destroy us.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MALE MENOPAUSE AND IRRITABLE MALE SYNDROME (IMS)
1. Hypersensitivity—The least little thing can set him off.
2. Anxiety—Regardless if things are fine he still worries all the time.
3. Frustration—He can be like a pressure cooker about to burst.
4. Depression—He may not have the usual symptoms like sadness, feelings of worthlessness, or thoughts of death; but he definitely isn’t happy and he’s often irritated.
5. Loss of sexual desire—He’s not as interested as he used to be.
6. Erectile dysfunction—Even when wants intimacy he may have issues with erections.
7. Fatigue—His energy level is frequently low even when he has a lot of rest.
After seeing this kind of behavior occurring in my own mid-life marriage and those of my clients and friends, I created a research project to learn the extent of the problem. I created an Irritable Male Syndrome Quiz http://www.TheIrritableMale.com that has been taken by nearly 10,000 men and by hundreds of women. Based on the results I received I found that there were four major reasons for Irritable Male Syndrome.
First, change in male hormones. This can take place as we get older and our testosterone levels begin to fall. It can also happen because of a lack of exercise and gain weight.
Second, were changes in the biochemistry of the brain. For example, declines of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin can lead to feelings of hostility, anger, and blame.
The third cause of Irritable Male Syndrome was rising stress levels in men as we age.
Finally, loss of male identity as we struggle with new sex roles in an ever changing culture can create issues.
Even though mid-life relationships experience many challenges, there is a lot of value in working through these problems together. One man, who has been married 32 years and has raised three children with his wife, says, “Love is a lifetime of work. Be a little more kindhearted to the one who really loves you. Take your time. Nurture your relationship. It’s all any of us have.”
For more information on Irritable Male Syndrome and Male Menopause, please visit my website at http://SurvivingMaleMenopause.com and get your free copy of my E-Book: Andropause (Male Menopause}: What Is This Crazy Thing We Are Going Through?