Let me start out by explaining that, like many couples, my husband and I have very different ideas about how a house should look. On one side of the spectrum, I like things neat, clean and orderly. I hate seeing messiness. On the complete other side of the spectrum is my husband, Oscar Madison. (I say this lovingly. I actually had a huge crush on Jack Klugman.)
Anyway, yesterday I was deep into my premenstrual Week 4 when I came down to the kitchen and my gaze immediately locked on the folders, newspapers, music sheets and other stuff my darling husband had plunked down in messy piles in the kitchen weeks ago. I’ve asked him to find another place for these piles many times in higher-estrogen days in my cycle. But, when they went unmoved, I just tried to ignore them. That’s rising estrogen for you–it makes you more patient and optimistic that one day the problem you’re facing will miraculously resolve on its own.
Not so in premenstrual Week 4. Nope, yesterday the moment I laid eyes on those messy kitchen piles, my plunging estrogen had me stewing about them. I continued to stew while I was taking my shower. While I was making my tea. And while I was thinking of 20 different places I could drive these piles to and dump them before Douglas woke up.
I could feel my ire building up–and I knew exactly where this was headed: Douglas was going to wake up and mosey sleepy-eyed on into the kitchen where I was already two teas in and at a full 10, ready to pounce on him with demands to clean up the mess I’d asked him to get rid of weeks ago. Then, he’d get defensive and I’d get offensive and he’d try to storm off but not before I could beat him to it by storming off first–and nothing would be resolved.
Sensing that there was probably a better, more mature, less ridiculous way of dealing with premenstrual irritation and getting my problem resolved, yesterday I decided to take a different tactic that would short-circuit my anger and thwart that totally fruitless back-and-forth: This time, I decided I would remind Douglas how my premenstrual hormones were impacting me, then I would make my request.
Calmly and coolly, I started out, “Sugar, as you know, I’m in my premenstrual week. This is a time when issues I’ve swept under the rug in other weeks of my cycle are far more irritating to me because plunging estrogen is dragging down mood-moderating chemicals, making me far less patient.” Keeping my voice level, I continued, “So the messy piles of stuff you’ve left here are much more annoying to me now. I know you said you’d get to them, but I really need that to happen today.”
His response: “Enough said.” By the time I returned to the kitchen, all the piles had vanished. No one raised their voices, no one stormed out, the issue got resolved–it was a hormone miracle!
My hunch is that by calmly explaining what was going on with me hormonally–plunging estrogen is making me more annoyed by this problem, so it’s more difficult to ignore–it helped Douglas understand why it was more important to me that he act now rather than continue to put off dealing with it. There was a clear physiological reason–it wasn’t just a random feeling out of nowhere. It made sense.
So, when appropriate, I’d like to recommend that you try this tactic of explaining how your hormones are impacting you when you’ve got an issue to resolve with a loved one, such as your parent, partner, sibling or friend. For instance, if you’re itching to get out of the house and have fun in your Week 2, but your partner or friend is being a total couch potato, you can explain that your high hormones are amping up your energy, extroversion and desire for adventure to cycle-long highs, which can make you antsy and bored when stuck indoors. Or, alternatively, when someone is trying to drag you out for a wild and wacky night on the town when you’re in your sleepy Week 3, you can explain that your rising progesterone is sapping your pep and making you prefer the safe, comfortable confines of home. Or, like me, when premenstrual anger over an issue arises, you can explain to the person you’re having the issue with why you’re more frustrated now–because of plunging estrogen creating changes in mood and patience–and, as it did with Douglas, it may help them understand where you’re coming from more clearly so the problem gets resolved.
If you try this, let me know how it worked for you!