Menopause and Divorce: Is there a Link? (+ 5 Tips for Coping)

Last updated 03.21.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 7 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Did you know that more than 60% of American divorces are filed by women in their menopausal years? This alarming statistic is one of several that suggests menopause influences not just our bodies but our relationships, too.

So, if you’re approaching this phase of life and you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important to understand the potential challenges that may lie ahead.

Of course, not every woman faces marital problems during menopause. Many navigate this time with little to no disruptions to their physical, emotional, and relationship health. But for some, the hormonal shifts that happen during these years can contribute to major issues that affect them and those they love.

My own marriage was not immune to the challenges of menopause. During my late 40s, when hot flashes became frequent and emotional symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and mood swings were at their peak, my relationship with my husband became strained.

I didn’t feel like my old self anymore, and my husband was probably wondering what happened to the woman he married. Some days, it felt like everything he said was either stupid, insensitive, or wrong. But looking back, I can see that my own perspective and behavior were being driven by hormonal upheaval rather than anything that he’d done.

So, are you concerned that your marriage is suffering as you journey through menopause? In this post, I’ll be exploring the link between divorce and menopause to find out the impact our hormones can have on our marriages. Plus, I’ll share five tips on coping with relationship challenges during this phase of life.

Is There a Link Between Menopause and Divorce?

High instances of marital separation during women’s 40s, 50s, and 60s suggest there may indeed be a connection between menopause and divorce.

Research from the UK-based Family Law Menopause Project suggests that around 80% of women with relationship issues say that menopause or perimenopause symptoms negatively influence their marriages.

And a staggering 70% of the women surveyed cited menopause as the main cause of their divorce or relationship breakdowns.

So, how exactly is menopause wreaking so much havoc on our marriages?

  • Physical symptoms can play a major role. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, and vaginal dryness can all affect a woman’s quality of life and her self-esteem. As a result, some women may feel less confident in the bedroom, and without proper communication, this can lead to a lack of intimacy and a strain on the emotional connection between both partners.
  • Psychological symptoms are perhaps even more instrumental in the high divorce rates during menopause. Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and low libido are all commonly reported symptoms for women during this phase of life.

I suffered from all of these issues and more during my own menopausal journey. And although my marriage ultimately survived, it certainly wasn’t plain sailing when these symptoms were at their peak.

Some days, I was difficult to be around, and my husband later told me that he felt as if he couldn’t do anything right. I’d pick fights, become emotional at the drop of a hat, and push him away when he attempted any form of emotional or physical intimacy. And unfortunately, this pattern is true in many marriages, and the strain becomes too much to bear.

5 Tips to Help Your Marriage Survive Menopause

Marriage isn’t always easy, and for many women, neither is in menopause. But with the right support and communication, your relationship can weather the storm and even come out stronger on the other side.

Just a few years ago, my own relationship was strained by my overwhelming symptoms of menopause. But now, my husband and I are closer than ever before.

So, here are some tried and tested pieces of advice to help couples navigate the challenges of menopause and strengthen their marital bond.

Communicate

Open communication is the most integral component of a happy marriage. So, it’s essential that you both feel comfortable expressing your feelings, worries, and concerns with one another.

Take time to check in with your partner and see how they’re feeling. Listen to him or her with an open mind, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Ask them to do the same, and make time to do this regularly.

Get Educated

Take some time together as a couple to learn about menopause and the symptoms it can cause. When your partner has a better understanding of what you may be going through, they are more able to practice empathy and provide the emotional support you need.

Consider attending a support group together or read menopause-related resources from reputable sources, such as our own blog here at SimplyMenopause.

Our resident women’s health expert, Sabrina Johnson, has written a particularly insightful article to help husbands understand how they can best support their wives during this transitional time.

Prioritize Intimacy

Intimacy, both emotional and sexual, can often suffer during a woman’s menopausal years. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize these aspects of your relationship to keep the bond between the two of you strong.

Take time to share your bedroom-related worries and desires with your partner, and stay open and available for them to do the same with you.

Practice Self-care

Taking care of your own physical and mental health will help you move through menopause with greater ease. This will leave less opportunity for your relationship to suffer.

Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, and prioritize sleep. These interventions will result in a happier and healthier you and a happier and healthier relationship, too.

Seek Professional Guidance

If your marriage has entered a rough patch, seeking help from a marriage or relationship counselor can help both parties to express their concerns.

A neutral third party can also offer a fresh perspective on your relationship that you or your partner may not have considered before. Plus, counseling can arm you with the tools to help you cope when menopause symptoms affect life at home.

FAQs

Can hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help to save my marriage?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can alleviate both the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause. For example, many women who take HRT feel significantly less irritable and anxious and report far fewer mood swings. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on your relationship.

HRT can also reignite a lagging libido and improve the symptoms of vaginal dryness. As a result, your sex life may improve.

HRT isn’t for everyone, though, and it does come with the risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re a suitable candidate for treatment.

Are there any other treatments to help vaginal dryness and improve intimacy between me and my partner?

Alongside HRT, several other treatments can improve vaginal dryness. These include natural remedies such as coconut oil and olive oil, over-the-counter treatments like vaginal moisturizers and lubricants, and prescription treatments such as low-dose estrogen medications and non-estrogen-based medications.

What can men do to support their wives during menopause?

The most important thing a man can do for his wife during this transitional time is to listen to her needs and concerns. Men should also try to educate themselves on the physical and psychological impact of menopause to try and better understand what their partner may be going through.

Conclusion

Menopause isn’t just the end of your periods. The hormonal shifts that happen during this time can bring big changes, both physically and emotionally. And sometimes, these changes can put a strain on an otherwise happy marriage.

But menopause doesn’t have to be a recipe for divorce. By following the tips outlined above and remaining committed to your partner, you can navigate this transitional time as a couple and come out stronger on the other side.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.