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Dear Robin: How Do I Talk to My Wife About THAT Time of the Month?

Monday, December 15, 2014


Photo Credit: Joe Lanman via Compfight cc

Dear Robin,

I have been tracking my wife’s cycle for several years. There is a certain time during the month when what was no big deal the week before becomes tragic the next. How do I refrain from reminding her that she may be unreasonably upset because of PMS? She has never noticed the tiny red dot I put on the calendar…I know I am right. Should I pretend to be wrong?

The swings that were once mildly annoying have gotten much worse in the past 18 months.  I realize she is at the age (46) where things are winding down….my question really is about how to kindly remind her she may be about to ‘start’ without me waking up with a knife in my chest. Is there a kindly reminder or is it zip the lip time?



Dear Mr. Clearly Does not Value his Life,

First you asked me how to refrain from pointing out her impending red tide of death and destruction and then you asked whether or not you should bring it up at all. Make up your mind, man!  The Advice Goddess needs to be approached with specific and non-contradictory questions, especially on a Monday when she’s cranky and PMS-ing.

You have been quite the industrious fellow, methodically tracking her cycle like Sherlock Holmes in the Case of the Disappearing Uterine Lining and connecting her mood swings and crying jags to the crimson tears of her disappointed uterus. Bravo, dear fellow, bravo!

Most women suffer from PMS, but for some women PMS is much more serious than the run-of-the-mill bitchiness and tendency to sob during Heisman Trophy acceptance speeches (damn you, Mariota!).

Although it is certainly possible you are a selfish, inconsiderate and boorish dolt who earns your wife’s scorn on a mysteriously dependable schedule of approximately every 28 days, it is also possible she suffers from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, which is basically PMS on crack.

In the days immediately prior to your wife’s week-long cotton pony ride in the rusty saddle, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder produces very dramatic mood swings and physical changes.

Think that’s the end to your bad news? Nope!

Your wife is 46, and as you so aptly framed it, “things are winding down,” meaning she is very likely peri-menopausal. This is where things really start to get interesting, my friend. Peri-menopause can last for up to five years before the womb goes on its final strike for good and it is not pretty.

Peri-menopausal women make PMS look like a joy ride – they are angry, prone to crying jags, randomly horny as hell (that’s the good news unless they take it outside the home), unreasonable, pimply, argumentative, and downright mean.

How do I know this? Because I own a mirror and have voice memo on my phone.  The voice memo is a handy device that allows me to record myself when I suspect I may be acting erratically due to peri-menopause so I can examine the evidence later, when I am not in the throes of a tantrum or planning the perfect murder.

Knowledge is power, Martin, but it must be used wisely. What does that mean? It means UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER SHOULD YOU SUGGEST TO YOUR WIFE SHE MAY BE PERI-MENOPAUSAL.

That knife in your chest you mentioned? If you’re lucky, you’ll get a knife in the chest. If you aren’t, she will either divorce you or insist you remain married during the entirety of the Change, either of which is equally unpleasant but for different reasons. I can’t stress this enough: men who suggest their women may be peri-menopausal are either suicidal or just plain stupid.

And herewith I render my advice in a conveniently-numbered list.  Please be sure to consult with your handy-dandy calendar and be certain to schedule the following steps immediately after your wife’s next honorable discharge from the ovarian army, and absolutely NOT in the few days prior.

1. Buy your wife something pretty. This isn’t necessary but it always helps.

2. Take her to her favorite restaurant. This serves two purposes: first, it will put her in a happy and receptive mood. Second, there will be witnesses so she is less likely to kill you.

3. Tell her you love her and you want her to be happy, but you fear she may be suffering from some out of the ordinary symptoms when her body is rebooting the baby factory’s operating system. Be sure to use this moment to praise how normally wonderful her personality is before you describe how she changes a few days before the communists take over the fun house.

4. Ask her if she will meet together with you and her gynecologist so you can get more information and discuss options.  This is especially excellent advice because it is her doctor who will break the news to her that she is peri-menopausal and instead of you getting your ass kicked, your wife’s doctor can be the one to run screaming from her office after the table lamp comes flying at her face.

5. Once you’ve delivered all of the above, duck.

That’s pretty much it. A message of concern delivered in a loving way and with wine, good food and a shiny present can’t possibly go wrong.

If your wife is unreceptive to your involvement in her lady bits beyond the marital bed you should ask her to meet with her doctor on her own and you should insist upon marital counseling so you can discuss how her mood swings are affecting your relationship.

Be sure to pick a female therapist who is at least in her mid-50s so she can recognize The Crazy. You may even want to find someone who specializes in problems associated with the myriad of physical and mental issues women face as they age.

I’ll share the name of whomever I find when I finally get around to dealing with my own problems.  If people like you would stop writing me for help, maybe I could do that.


This is actually pretty serious business and it would be unreasonable for her to refuse discussion about something that is clearly difficult for you to deal with and which may be controllable through medication, exercise, diet changes, and other options.

Finally, would you like Mr. Patience and Understanding’s phone number so you can form a support group?

Former Portland lawyer and current Portland big mouth Robin DesCamp is the Velvet Sledgehammer of Truth, smashing through socially acceptable niceties to tell you how to live your life, and why. She blogs at askdescamp.com. Write to her at [email protected].

Banner Photo Credit: DafneCholet via Compfight cc


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