I'm a 62-year-old husband and father, semi-retired. My wife is also 62. We were high school sweethearts and have been married for almost 40 years. I still love her as much as I did on our wedding day, so this isn't about love. It's about what I call her moodiness. Ten years ago, she started going through "the change." Our kids (two daughters) were still in high school at the time, so there were a lot of hormones in the house. And my wife had a lot of trouble with hot flashes, not that we talked about it very much. But the four of us got through it all okay. And today there are no hard feelings or buried resentments that I know of.
I'm writing because of my wife, who asked me to. I don't read your column, to be honest, but my wife does, and she said you would put me straight. Here's the thing: I find it very hard to believe that, 10 years later, my wife is still suffering from hot flashes. She doesn't have them quite as often, and they aren't quite as intense. But she has at least a couple a day, and whenever she feels another one coming on she behaves like a madwoman, running through the house removing her clothes and screaming like a banshee. That's how she's always handled them, and I must confess that I found it rather amusing the first few years. But that was several years ago.
Today, I find it rather annoying. And I don't understand why she doesn't see someone about this. She says there's no point, that there's no set cut-off point for hot flashes and that she happens to be one of the unlucky few who continue to get them years later. But I can't help but wonder whether there might be some psychosomatic component. When she's in the middle of one, she doesn't look quite like she used to: her face as red as a beet, sweat pouring down her forehead. Isn't it at least possible that she's imagining things? I don't really believe that. Then again, I don't really know what to believe. I just wish the whole thing was behind us.
Any information you might have would be greatly appreciated.
Local Firefighter: Remember that old joke about how, if men got pregnant, maternity leave would last for two years, with full pay? Well, if men got hot flashes, there would be these little igloo-shaped "Polar Bar"s on every street corner in America, where, if need be, you would dart inside, rip off your clothes and step into an ice-cold shower, after which your clothes would magically reappear, newly washed, pressed and folded. Oh, and there'd be a high-definition, flat-screen television tuned to ESPN, so you could check the latest scores.
But, of course, men don't get hot flashes. (Actually, some do, but that's another story.) So our job is basically to bear up under the heat. I'm glad to hear you at least talk to your wife about her hot flashes now, Local Firefighter. Some husbands don't, and some wives try to keep it a secret, which is why a lot of husbands wind up thinking it's all in their wives' heads. It's not all in their heads. It's all through their bodies. And if you want to know how it feels, pour a gallon a gas over your head and light a match.
Anyway, that's how it was described to me by a friend who, at 66, just celebrated the 15th anniversary of her very first hot flash with...a hot flash. And she's heard of women who are still lighting up in their 80s. So, you're going to need to lighten up, Local Firefighter. Otherwise, there are approximately 40 million women in the United States alone who'd like to have a word with you. And the word is "aaaaiiiiiyyyyyyeee."