Dear Ms. Behavior:
My girlfriend Jodi is only 39 but she’s already going through peri-menopause. I feel badly for her – but I also find it tedious. (I’m 28.) Her incessant complaints are hard to take, and doesn’t do much for our romantic relationship.
Last night, we were both awake at 3 a.m. and Jodi took my hand in hers and put it on her chest. I was happy because I thought she wanted me to touch her breasts. I was tired but I thought, “What the hell, I’ll go for it.” After a moment, she removed my hand and said, “I really just wanted you to feel how sweaty I am.”
How can I support her in her current stage of life and also get her to understand that we still need to keep things between us at least a little hot?
-Not Dead Yet
Dear Not Dead Yet
Hot sweats definitely aren’t sexy, but they don’t have to be the death knell for romance, either.
As annoying as the complaints may be, try to get it up to be a little more empathic toward Jodi as she goes through this hormonal experience. That doesn’t mean that you have to actively participate in all of Jodi’s bodily sensations as they happen, but a little kindness may go a long way toward bringing the two of you closer. Once you’ve clearly established yourself as an ally, it may be easier to explain how the two of you can work toward sustaining erotic feelings, and why you don’t want your fingers dragged through a puddle of sweat in the middle of the night.
Dear Ms. Behavior:
My partner Rufus had a stomach bug and it took him a couple of weeks to fully recover. Of course I took good care of him, but we slept separately so that I wouldn’t catch it. This was the first time in our six-year relationship that we’ve ever slept apart. At first, I hated sleeping apart. I missed his body in our bed and I missed cuddling with him. But after a while, I found that I liked having the extra room to move around in the bed and actually slept better.
Rufus finally recovered and moved back into our bedroom last night. I barely slept at all. We kept bumping into each other during the night, and his snoring woke me up several times. To my surprise, I found that I actually felt crowded. Now I wonder if I should suggest separate bedrooms. It’s clear that it’s better for my sleep, but would that be selfish?
Okay, so the novel experience of being able to spread out in bed whetted your appetite for more – what’s the problem? The urge to sleep alone isn’t a relationship betrayal. Your guilty feelings over enjoying the extra breathing space may suggest that you don’t get enough alone time in general. If that’s the case, an occasional night in the guest room might be helpful to you and to your relationship. But there’s no need to make it an all or nothing decision – i.e. always sleeping together vs. always sleeping apart. Ask Rufus how he’d feel about sleeping separately on occasion. He may appreciate the alone time too. Another low-drama option would be to once in a while say, “Honey, I’m feeling restless. I think I’ll sleep in the guest room tonight. “ But only do it when you’re on good terms – never after a fight. You don’t want sleeping apart to be linked with any negative associations (even unconsciously).
© 2013 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org.