Understanding this "double whammy" can be the
key to sanity and healthy relationships
"He used to be the nicest guy you could imagine,
now he's become moody and mean." I hear this
bewildered concern from women all over the world.
"She used to be gentle and caring, now she treats
me like her worst enemy." Men are equally
frustrated and confused. Millions of women and men
are finding that something strange is happening to
them when their relationship moves into
Sometimes I think it's evolution's little joke
to split us apart and send us looking for new
partners to propagate the species. But for those
dealing with the stresses of mid-life, it is no
joking matter. The key to saving our sanity and
keeping our relationship alive and well is to
understand two interrelated life changes affecting
men (and the women who love them) at mid-life: male
menopause and Irritable Male Syndrome. I sometimes
think of them as the double whammy. But with a
little understanding and help from those we love,
we dont have to let them do us in.
What are the most common symptoms of male
menopause and Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS)?
- Hypersensitivity: The least little thing can
set him off.
- Anxiety: He worries all the time, even when
things seem to be fine.
- Frustration: At times, he seems like a
pressure cooker about to explode.
- Depression: He may not have the classic
symptoms like sadness, feelings of
worthlessness, or thoughts of death; but he
definitely isnt happy and hes often
- Loss of sexual desire: He doesnt seem
as interested as he once was.
- Erectile dysfunction: Even when hes
interested he may have problems with
- Fatigue: His energy level is often low even
when he has had lots of rest.
After seeing this kind of behavior occurring in
my own mid-life marriage and those of my clients
and friends, I set up a research project to
determine the extent of the problem. I developed an
Irritable Male Syndrome Quiz that was filled out by
nearly 30,000 males and by thousands of women.
Based on the responses I received I found that
there were four major causes of Irritable Male
- First were fluctuations in male hormones.
This can occur as we age and our testosterone
levels begin to drop. It can also result from
lack of exercise and weight gain.
- Second were changes in the biochemistry of
the brain. For instance, drops in the levels of
neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin
can increase feelings of hostility, anger, and
- The third cause of Irritable Male Syndrome
was increasing stress levels in men as we
- Finally, loss of male identity as we
struggle with new sex roles in a changing
society can create problems.
Although mid-life relationships experience many
challenges, there is tremendous value in working
through these issues together. One man, who has
been married 32 years and raised three children
with his wife, says, "Love is a lifetime of work.
Be a little more empathetic to the one who really
cares for you. Be patient. Nurture your
relationship. Its all you really have."
* * *
Wealth can't buy health, but health can buy
wealth. - Henry David Thoreau
is the internationally best-selling author of nine
books including Male
Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing. The 4 Key Causes
of Depression and
Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable
Male Syndrome. His
upcoming book, Tapping Power: A Mans Guide to
Eliminating Pain, Stress, Anger, Depression and
Other Ills Using the Revolutionary Tools of Energy
Psychology will be available next year. For over 38
years he has been a leader in the field of men's
health. He is a member of the International
Scientific Board of the World Congress on
Mens Health and has been on the Board of
Advisors of the Mens Health Network since its
founding in 1992. His work has been featured in
major newspapers throughout the United States
including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall
Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA
Today. He has been featured on more than 1,000
radio and T.V. programs including The View with
Barbara Walters, Good Morning America, Inside
Edition, CBS, NBC, and Fox News, To Tell the Truth,
Extra, Leeza, Geraldo, and Joan Rivers. He also did
a nationally televised special on Male Menopause
for PBS. He looks forward to your feedback.
You can visit his website at www.menalive.com
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©1996-2019, Gordon Clay