Back Off! Now Is NOT A Good Time (Of The Month)

Learn how to cool your volcanic monthly madness in 3 simple steps.

Oh $h*t…  It’s that time again.

That dreaded week before your period begins.

A study reports that 85 percent of women experience Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) about one week before their period begins.  BUT very few actually talk about how this affects us, and our relationships.

At the age of 24, I was diagnosed with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) which is basically PMS jacked up on potent steroids.  

When I met my husband I tried to hide how severe my symptoms were by isolating myself.  But once we moved in together I no longer had that option.

I knew right away that if I was going to save my marriage and maintain our strong bond, I had to figure out how to cool my volcanic monthly madness.   

AND the good news is, I did (for the most part).

Learn How to Function as a Team

What sucks about PMS or PMDD is that it’s reoccurring.  It’s not like other petty fights or destructive behaviors that you change and then move on.  The damn thing keeps coming back.

Before I get into the recipe for surviving the pre-game battle I have to address the strong men in our lives. 

First, I fully understand that what I’m about to suggest in this article will seem ludicrous and unfair. 

BUT if you listen to me, you’ll survive this time less scathed and protect your relationship from needless suffering.

The reason we’re not okay with you telling us why we feel the way we do is because our VERY real experience (no matter how irrational) is then considered less valid.

Put the Irrational Period Brain in Perspective:

Think back to your college days when you wanted to ask a girl out.  BUT your fear of rejection prevented you from trying.  To outsiders it was just a boy asking a girl for a number, and sure she might say “No,” BIG DEAL.  But to you the thought of being rebuffed paralyzed you.

That’s what it’s like for us.  What we experience in our bodies is VERY real even if you disagree. 

There are two phases in this plan to help you two get through the bad week a lot smoother, (1) preparation, and (2) in the moment care and repair.

Prevention Period:

The week prior to the big day is all about self-care.  Determine what delivers the greatest ROI in terms of stress relief. 

Self-care will look different for everyone.  You might enjoy sleeping in longer or going to get groceries kid-free before coming home at night. 

My self-care plan looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers.  Instead of forcing myself through the afterschool mayhem, my husband does the homework wrap-up and takes care of dinner to make the evenings less stressful on me.
  • Stay connected with nature and things that bring me peace.  I don’t race home after work.  I walk outdoors or lift at the gym before I go home. 
  • Eat healthy (even though I crave the REALLY bad garbage carbs).  What you put into your system during this week is important.  Micronutrients play a huge role in helping me stay (more) sane.  I choose to sip on fruit/veggie drinks, and munch on apple slices rather than downing what I really want, beer and cheese balls. 

Action Plan For the Main Event

Once you create a custom tailored prevention plan you’ll notice right away that the bad week is more tolerable.  With that said you’ll still need a plan for those “just in case I lose my $h*t moments”. 

Self-Soothing is the main component, followed by having a compassionate companion. 

Let’s say that you and your partner are in an argument and you can feel yourself ramping up. 

Do the following:

  1. Remove yourself from the situation.  Get somewhere quiet—preferably leave the house and go for a walk. 
  2. Concentrate on your breath.  As you breath in say, “I know that I am breathing in” as you breathe out say, “I know that I am breathing out”. 
  3. Un-identify with your thoughts.  The sucky thing about your thoughts is that your body doesn’t know the difference between simple words swirling in your brain or actual events.   The trick is to great a mental gap between you and your thought. 

Say, “I notice that I am having the thought that…” Repeat this phrase 10 times.  You will feel the thought not affecting you as much (I promise).

This intervention is self-soothing in that it allows you to observe the thought as just words not true events or facts.

After you feel (relatively) calm, return to your man and have him hold you. 

When you’re in the thick of the emotions you feel alienated and alone.  The uncomfortable intensity amplifies if your husband turns away from you, so have him do the opposite.

Men, This is Your Time to Shine

If you have ever wanted to be your wife’s knight in shining armor—this is your moment.  Be there for her when she feels like an utter mess.  Hold her close and reassure her that everything will be okay. 

Show mercy and be kind to her.  You may feel that it’s not fair, but you’ll immediately reap the benefits.   You’ll deescalate the fight and after the fleeting moment has passed she’ll feel greatly indebted to your unconditional love and generosity.

Jessica is the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice.  She blogs regularly on her website: jmillercoaching.com.  Follow her on Twitter where she tweets about Top Relationship Tips.

This article was originally published at South Metro Counseling. Reprinted with permission from the author.