As we discussed on Monday, the stereotypes of women as irrational creatures ruled by their hormones are aggravating for women and can prevent us from acknowledging the effects that hormones can have on our relationships. The best way for women to fight these stereotypes, however, is not to pretend that hormones don’t affect us, but to take steps to ensure that we do not reinforce the stereotypes through our actions. In line with that philosophy, today we will examine several resources that can help us to better understand our hormones and relate to them in positive ways.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
As Elizabeth Sullivan points out, many women feel guilty about the irritability that comes with hormone changes: “Many women also feel guilty and ashamed for these ‘mood swings’ and for the perception that they should be controlling their hormones or rising above them.” In reality, she says, “These are not personal failings we overcome with willpower. These are physical changes in our bodies and brains, like pregnancy or orgasm or the startle response. The trick is learning to cope well with them.” (Check out the whole article here: PMS & Relationships)
2. Be Careful About What Topics You Discuss
Some topics just aren’t a good idea to discuss when you are in the full swing of PMS, so try to put off discussing them if you can. This article of advice for men has some advice that seems exaggerated to me, but I do like the idea of having a list of safe topics for disagreements in case you just really need to grouse about something. If you must argue, stick to topics that are not deep areas of conflict in your relationship.
3. Don’t Use PMS as an Excuse for Hurtful Behavior
Some behaviors should be avoided, even when you are being affected by PMS hormones. This article provides several examples of behaviors that you should strive to avoid even during PMS. The way the ideas are presented is a little harsher than the way I would put it, but the basic ideas are solid. I mentioned earlier that you are not to blame for your mood swings. Thing is, your partner is not to blame either, so it makes sense to try as much as possible to keep the mood swings from affecting him. If your symptoms affect you to the point where showing basic respect is impossible, it may be time to seek additional help.
A woman’s story of how becoming aware of her PMS symptoms helped to save her marriage: “My Periods Nearly Killed My Marriage”