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Ask Ellie: Wife needs love and support on perimenopause journey

Dear Ellie: My wife, at 46, is a gorgeous woman. She was beautiful when we first met. Now, her athletic teenage years plus the many body-movement classes, yoga groups, etc. have made her fit and strong.
Advice columnist Ellie

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: My wife, at 46, is a gorgeous woman. She was beautiful when we first met. Now, her athletic teenage years plus the many body-movement classes, yoga groups, etc. have made her fit and strong. She walks with purpose, and smiles with an inner glow.

But she’s aching inside. The process of perimenopause toward full menopause and the final end of her periods, has upset her hormone system with force and confusion.

She’s not eligible for hormone replacement therapy due to family genetics. She’s tried black cohosh, an herbal remedy that’s helped a girlfriend, but it seriously upset her stomach.

She’s still the confident, extremely capable woman I love, but I fear she’s losing the inner glow of feeling healthy and in charge of herself. Now, there are doctors’ visits, blood tests, endless conversations with friends “who’ve been through it,” plus hours of research on medical sites.

I support her fully as she goes through this process/ordeal. I listen when she wants to talk about it, but don’t raise the topic myself. I try to give her love — hugs, kisses, a massage when needed… but I accept that this isn’t the time to raise the topic of sex. It’s not happening. We remain close. I’m committed to her.

Do you and your readers have any advice for my wife and me?

It’s About Love, not Sex.

Your understanding of all that your wife’s experiencing and your empathy for her, are the support she needs most now.

Unfortunately, many partners don’t “get it” that this major change in a woman’s life can create symptoms very difficult to handle.

As I wrote in a previous column (March 9, 2020), Menopause refers to when a woman stops having her period (for at least 12 months) often following a peri-menopausal phase of having had symptoms such as night sweats, and mood swings.

Some symptoms and side effects of actual menopause include decreased sex drive and sexual desire, depression, difficulty sleeping, and weight gain. This can be a very trying transition for many women!

Decreased estrogen levels can result in reduced blood flow to the vagina, which can cause the tissues to become thinner. If this happens, the area becomes less sensitive to sexual stimulation. This also affects vaginal lubrication and overall arousal.

A woman may not enjoy sex as much and may have difficulty achieving an orgasm. Sex can not only become uncomfortable, but also painful. Lubricants such as Replens, available at a drug store, and using different sexual positions, can sometimes help.

Keep an open dialogue with your wife about what she’s experiencing. It’s a fact of nature that’s affecting her libido, not a loss of love for you.

Kissing, caressing, and other nonsexual acts of intimacy can actually help boost a person’s sex drive during menopause. These sincere pleasuring efforts can maintain physical intimacy when possible.

Feedback regarding the woman’s letter about her fiancé who looks at pornography daily and wants her to engage in sexual practices she rejects (Aug. 27):

Reader: “Please encourage the woman to contact S-Anon is a 12-step program that provides support for family/friends of sex addicts. Its goal is to help those who are affected by the sexual behaviour of another person.

“Lusting and watching porn are sexually addictive behaviours which affect families greatly. “

A Grateful S-Anon member

Ellie: The initial letter-writer wrote, “… he’s almost cheating when he goes on porn sites for hours when we could be having romantic sex. Instead, he’s watching strangers and finding that exciting.”

Feedback regarding the man, 88, who watches porn all day, upsetting his wife (Aug. 31):

“You didn’t help her understand her husband better. Clearly this man knows it hurts his wife if he shuts it off when she comes in the room. I’m sure she has likely felt betrayed by this for a long time.

“While physical intimacy isn’t always a priority as our bodies are less agile, the heart still craves other types of intimacy in a marriage.

“I know I appreciate it and feel seen and heard when my husband puts down his device to be present with me.

“Advising her to just ignore his porn interest seems to further invalidate her feelings. Perhaps it may be helpful for this woman to ask her husband to restrict his iPad use to spend time with his wife so she still feels wanted and loved.”

Wife of a Porn Addict

Ellie’s tip of the day

Supporting a wife’s menopause experience signals your love.

Send relationship questions to