It’s not just us; I concluded as we walked our usual route in our busy Bethesda neighborhood. My dearest friend and I walk together practically every day, and on this particular one, we were discussing all of the changes that are happening to us, our friends, and even our husbands! I’ll admit it; we were gossiping. So many gals we know were frustrated with their husbands and could not stop talking about it.
While I felt pretty lucky to have a partner who rose quite handily to the dramatic changes happening in our lives, not everyone was as prepared as we were. His career change allowed him to work from home years ago, so our adjustment was easy. But for most, being cooped up through Covid, or the change in work schedule now that some of us are slowing down or changing it up a bit, and the return (albeit temporary) of young adult children impacted everyone, especially our friends and their relationships. All of these changes were bringing something to the surface. My friend and I concluded something about men not really talked about, but that impacts everyone!
While we were discussing what’s been going on with ourselves — how we women are mired by sleepless nights, moments of extreme temperatures, even the onset of anxiety, and the all too familiar energy depletion, we all realized that our guys are changing too. That’s part of all of this change. It’s not just us women!
Just because they’re the GUYS doesn’t mean they’re immune to aging. And they’re certainly not talking about it the way we are starting to. It’s most obviously evidenced by their greying locks (or loss of them), less muscle mass, energy, and for so many, to put it lightly, more softness around the middle. It’s not like they’re not noticing, but it’s not something every guy wants to admit and deal with, and they certainly might night talk about it with their significant other. In any case, their well-being affects us. And when they’re not good, neither are we.
Aging means changing hormones, a depletion of them. Look, we women experience fluctuations throughout our lifetime–the ups and downs of our periods, pregnancy and perimenopause, and menopause. We learn to read our bodies and our emotions. But, for men, it’s a double-edged sword; they’re supposed to be strong and virile, not appear to age really, but at the same time, be emotionally woke and connected and talk about their feelings. Neither really happens well.
There is such a thing as male menopause, and it involves a drop in testosterone production after the age of 50 (it starts around age 30). Testosterone doesn’t just fuel sex drive; it fuels mental and physical energy, muscle mass, even the fight or flight response. It basically helps guys’ machines run. And when it’s not running well (the most evident sign is in the bedroom), testosterone is likely the culprit.
So how do you bring up being there for your partner and what his needs are? Because when he’s ok, he’s got the time, and energy and focus to be there for you! We decided that maybe the best path to take in discussing aging and its effects was simple: to be compassionate. We know what’s going on with us, so we know what’s nice to hear. Everyone likes to know that someone cares and notices what’s going on. It makes us feel loved. So one script might look like, “I’ve noticed you’re more tired lately, feeling ok?” rather than, “You haven’t cooked dinner in a week, what’s going on?” Or “We haven’t seen our friends in a while; let’s have a few people over for drinks and snacks. We can divide and conquer. Sound like fun?” instead of, “We cannot hole up in the house forever, what do you want to do?” Or the best yet we decided was, “ It’s nice out, let’s take a walk….” All of these are gentle entries into a discussion or just to be there and offer some support. Ask open-ended questions, listen carefully, and offer guidance sparingly. Even a “me, too” might help.
The Company LetsGetChecked offers at-home testing kits for testosterone. Or just go see your doctor, the biggest hurdle for a lot of guys.
The thing is, we are all getting older, and taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirit can be a shared endeavor on many fronts. And taking care of each other can forge some bonding. My husband Jon and I have grown up together (we’ve been together since I was 19), and now we’re aging well together. There are things to do together that help us live better, stay healthy and just feel good (in addition to sex)!
Most important to both sexes as we age:
- Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet translates into food shopping and cooking together
- Getting exercise daily (include weight training) means taking walks, hikes, bike rides and classes together
- Getting plenty of sleep at regular hours requires going to bed and rising at the same time
- Trying to reduce stress with walking, yoga, meditation, and socializing means enjoying eachothers company and encourgaing some alone time, too!
These are the basics not just in aging well, but for good, all-around health, and it always helps to have a partner to get the job done and enjoy it! Isn’t that what it’s all about, enjoying life and being together!
Let me know what you think!