Being married to someone with PMDD isn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard work or some kind of chore. Being married to someone with PMDD simply requires a higher level of understanding between you and your partner–and oftentimes, a thick skin and a compassionate, forgiving attitude.
I had never heard of PMDD before I met my wife. I am someone who understands that mood instability is real and often uncontrollable as I grew up in a family of (mentally unstable) psych majors. So when my wife told me reproachfully about her Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and how for about a week each month her hormones are wacky and imbalanced which causes high emotions and mood instability, it was easier for me to understand and accept. Plus, I love her, so there was no problem embracing whatever came with marrying her. Chemicals control so much that our brain and body feel, I get that… so it’s also easy to understand an imbalance of those chemicals will cause an imbalance in how you feel or how you react when you have PMDD.
Knowing what it’s like to be married to someone with PMDD, and watching her struggle within her own mind and body to be in control of her thoughts and emotions is something that as a man, I don’t relate to personally. But I do relate to the millions of men and women in the world whose wives or girlfriends have PMDD. I do know what it’s like to helplessly watch my partner suffer and do everything I can to try and help, sometimes just ending up feeling like I made things worse for her.
What I’ve found is PMDD is a lot more than something that just throws off my wife’s mood for one week a month. It’s a constant cycle. I’ve seen my wife spend the rest of the month feeling so much remorse for her anger, her emotional outbursts, her mood instability during PMDD week, that she feels like she has to completely reconcile and rebuild for two weeks before PMDD week hits again. And she does every single thing she can to try and fight it off, battle it, control it–to no avail.
I’ve found that having compassion and a higher level of understanding for your partner and her needs will help her to stop feeling like she lives in this perpetual PMDD remorse cycle.
It’s not always easy for the world to understand things, and PMDD is something completely under the radar. At least 10% of women in the world have PMDD according to the CDC, and around 40% of them are undiagnosed; they’ve never heard of it, they don’t even know what’s “wrong with them” or why they “feel crazy” one week per month. They hate themselves for “acting crazy” because that’s what the world sees them as. We need to see our wives or partners with PMDD as crusaders. Superwomen with an Achilles heel like hormonal kryptonite. Maybe if we understand them a little more, we can help them have a better PMDD week, which in turn, can help our relationships thrive rather than buckle under the strain.
I get the feeling a lot of break-ups and divorces happen because of PMDD. It saddens me to know this. If my wife had cancer I wouldn’t leave if the symptoms were difficult. Why would PMDD make me give up on my wife? It makes me appreciate her more. She has to try harder, she has to feel like she’s completely out of balance and out of control and still manage a million things. I do all I can to try and lighten her load when I see she’s struggling. It really helps when I ask her what I can do to make her day better. Sometimes I have to ask over and over while holding her, sort of making her tell me what she needs. It always helps to show love and compassion to my wife when she struggles with PMDD.
I don’t think I can really make a difference to anyone out there, plus I’m sort of rambling. But what I can do is tell people that the best way to help the world understand PMDD is to understand your partner, what her limits are, what helps, what makes things worse…and understand yourself and your ability to reduce the impact PMDD has on your life together.