As I hit my late 40’s two things started to occur with great regularity. First, my busiest social activity became attending the funerals of friends’ parents. While sad events, for sure, they were also a wonderful opportunity to connect with those, “long-time friends that you just never seem to see much anymore”, you know…the college gang that still gets together once a year…maybe (in a good year)…but hey, a funeral makes such a gathering possible. Even out-of-towners come to town for a good funeral.
The second thing that started to happen was divorce.
But unlike funerals, divorces are NOT a good bonding opportunity for long-time friends, just let me tell you. As the now unhappy couple splits…everything in their life is unhappily split, including friendships. And much like the question, “who gets the dog?” in a divorce, another big question is which friends “go” with which spouse…who gets custody of the divorcing couple’s friends?
Linguistics experts will provide one explanation relating to the origins of the word, “menopause”. Their root analysis will have to do with the “end of fertility in a woman” or something equally simplistic. Those linguistics experts must all be men. There is nothing simplistic about the menopausal experience, and I am 100% convinced that the term, “menopause”, really originated from the root term, “Men Pause”… because that is what they do when confronted with their wife (or significant other’s) symptoms… What do you think?
I’m sure there are a few men out there who actually do have the capacity to sympathize with the middle-aged women in their lives… perhaps running to turn on the air conditioner or providing a cold glass of water at just the right moment. My husband wasn’t one of them. His approach in life is more, “What you don’t acknowledge doesn’t exist.” So I could flash away and he wouldn’t flinch. Ever.
Some of my menopausal friends, though, have husbands who really seem to WANT to help or understand, maybe even engage with them when they are “experiencing symptoms”. But something usually stops them from being successful in their intent, because they PAUSE in their tracks. Is it that they fundamentally don’t know WHAT to do? Or is it something more? Is there something just taboo about a man trying to relate to a female issue involving blood and sexual reproductive organs? Or is it as simple as fear. My vote is fear.