How Couples Can Make It Through the Most Turbulent Time of the Month
You know those days of the month when you’re more easily irritated, hurt, upset with everyone and everything, especially with your partner? I’m not sure what your particular flavor of PMS is. Mine is most often pissed off. But after many years of being pissed off on a monthly basis, I’ve started to learn a few ways of navigating the most emotionally sensitive time of the month.
What’s Really Causing That Feeling?
The first, and biggest, issue with PMS is recognizing what’s causing my feelings. On a recent morning, for instance, my partner had promised to be ready by 9 a.m. to do a video recording with me. But when I called at 9, he was still in bed. Turned out he had gone to sleep at 3 a.m. after geeking out in front of the laptop screen. I hung up, infuriated and feeling utterly unimportant to him. He wouldn’t do this to me if I mattered!
The familiar outcry of “I’m not important, I don’t matter” swept through me like a hurricane. Right on its heels though, came another thought. “Hang on a sec,” it said. “This is kind of over the top.” I stopped and did a mental scan of the date. Oh, right. PMS.
Truth was, my partner simply liked to sleep in and had occasionally been late for our appointments. At other times of the month, however, it never triggered me to that extent.
Of course, I know—in my calmer, non-hormonal moments—that my feelings never actually come from a circumstance or person outside myself. My feelings are simply a reflection of my thinking in that moment. When upsetting thoughts pass, upsetting feelings go with them, no matter how intense or compelling they may seem. PMS makes the process even more intense and compelling, but it also gives me a chance to disengage and stop identifying with the feelings. It helps me take my heightened feelings less seriously.
That perspective helped me calm down and eventually have a conversation with my partner about how important it was for me that he honored his word, but from a completely different space of respect, openness, and compassion. Had I gone in with a premenstrual storm, I don’t think the outcome would have been that great.
Tuning In to Your Body
The days leading up to a woman’s period, including the first few days of her cycle, are a time when she is more in touch with her body—and its intuition—than usual. I’ve found that If certain things in my life are out of alignment, if I’m not honoring or being honest with myself, this is the time when those issues will surface.
There is so much wisdom available to us through the body. If we slow down, tune in and listen, PMS is a great time to ask ourselves:
- Are there things not working in my life that I’m being called to pay attention to?
- Is there a similar pattern month after month that I want to be conscious about now?
- Do I have needs that are not being met right now?
- What would be most loving, kind and supportive to myself in this time?
One of the greatest insights I’ve had during this time came through a familiar icky, resentful feeling. Again, it had to do with my partner promising to get on a call with me and then forgetting it. I was furious that I had rearranged my schedule to talk to him, yet he didn’t show up. I wanted to punish him with the silent treatment. The familiarity of the resentment, plus the awareness that it was PMS, helped me wake up to my tendency to go out of my way to accommodate other people, sometimes completely rearranging my life, sometimes to the detriment of my own health and well-being.
It was sobering. And instead of blaming either him or myself, I resolved to start clear boundaries and agreements that honor my well-being, such as no more phone calls after 10 p.m.
Communicating Before Things Get Crazy
Hormonal changes can cause wild mood swings. That’s just the way it is. The more you appreciate the ebb and flow nature of your moods and not make a drama out of it, the more you’ll be able to communicate with your partner in advance and help him help you.
Share with him your tendency, your pattern, and what would best support you during PMS. What can he do for you? What can he say? Be specific. Explain clearly what you really need versus what you appear to be saying in a moment of upset.
For example, here’s what I shared with my partner, which he’s taken very well:
“During PMS I get easily pissed off, and it may look like I’m angry at you, but it’s not you. I feel extra sensitive and more vulnerable than usual, and I may unconsciously try to push you away by saying hurtful things. But deep down, I don’t want that. When I’m over-reacting, it would help if you don’t let me push you away, but hold me tight and tell me something like: ‘I see you. I see you’re feeling pissed off. I love you anyway. I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here with you.’”
Guys, Don’t Take It Personally
If there’s anything a guy shouldn’t take personally, it’s his partner’s hormonal flux. Hopefully, knowing it really has nothing to do with him helps him show compassion. Guys: Ask your partner if she’s aware of her emotional pattern during PMS. Ask her how you can best support her. And try to give her that support when the time comes. If your woman is anything like me, she might just want to test you with a few emotional storms. If you can stay steady and unwavering through it all, her trust in you will greatly deepen.
My partner appreciates that I’m aware of my patterns and needs and able to communicate with him—not in a rage, not to make him wrong, but with the intention to strengthen our relationship. He knows that I often turn into a she-wolf during this time, easily angered and ready to claw, and he now knows how to handle me and cut through my surface-level drama. It’s actually proven to be a good opportunity for us to experience more polarity and passion (all that energy has to channel itself somewhere) than at other times of the month.
Emily Nature helps smart, successful career women have fun in the game of love and relationships.