Whilst researching this article we searched extensively through various academic databases for articles discussing the effect perimenopause and menopause has on women who are in the process of divorce. The fact that we found almost nothing on the subject illustrates how little attention has been paid to the potential psychological impact of the two most stressful events a woman can experience occurring at the same time. it is only very recently i.e. this year, that people are starting to talk about it and the effect it can have.
In complex divorce cases where there may be hidden assets, jurisdictional disputes, and multiple mediation sessions and court hearings, both parties have to remain emotionally robust to ensure they can negotiate for what they need to move forward to an independent future. Menopause, however, leaves many women feeling the antithesis of strong, more often words such as exhausted, befuddled, emotional, and confused are used by peri/menopausal women to describe their physical and mental state.
Divorce and peri/menopause are predominantly middle-aged life events. The average age for UK women going through a divorce is 44.5 years. Peri/Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55 years and is accompanied by a variety of symptoms including:
- hot flushes – short, sudden feelings of heat, usually in the face, neck, and chest night sweats – hot flushes that occur at night
- difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day
- a reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
- vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex headaches
- mood changes, such as low mood or anxiety
- palpitations – heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable joint stiffness, aches, and pains
- reduced muscle mass
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Dealing with a divorce whilst battling one or more of the above symptoms is incredibly demanding and may lead to stress-related symptoms, including:
- feeling overwhelmed
- racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating irritability
- feeling constantly worried, anxious, or scared loss of confidence
- insomnia and exhaustion
- increased or decreased appetite
- increased alcohol consumption
Coping with peri/menopause and divorce at the same time comes with enormous emotional, physical, and mental pressures and that is without considering other mid-life challenges such as career demands, teenagers, and ageing parents.
Due to the limited studies on how peri/menopause and divorce affect women mean it is impossible to draw any inferences on the subject. Common sense, however, tells us that should these two major life events happen simultaneously, some women will find it exceptionally difficult to argue for what they need in terms of a financial settlement.
If you are going through a divorce during peri/menopause, below are some ideas on how to take care of your physical and mental health during this challenging time.
Find a Divorce Solicitor who you trust and get on with. Divorce, especially one that involves international elements can take months or even years to conclude. You need a Solicitor on your side who you can be
confident will listen to your objectives and provide practical, emotion-free advice on how best to get what you want. It is also advisable to instruct a Solicitor who belongs to Resolution as its Code of Practice encourages members to resolve disputes in a non-confrontational way, thereby reducing stressful conflicts.
Take care of your health. Middle age is one of the busiest times in a woman’s life and it can be exceptionally difficult to find time to eat well, exercise, spend time with friends, and get enough sleep. The studies on stress, however, all show that self-care is essential for mitigating symptoms.
Seek additional support from a Counsellor or other mental health professional if the situation becomes overwhelming.
It is imperative not to underestimate the effects of going through a divorce at the same time as peri/menopause. If you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to your Divorce Solicitor who can assist you with finding the support you need to move through this challenging life situation.
Edwards Family Law is a niche London-based firm specialising in complex divorce and international family law. To find out more about divorce and financial settlements, please phone +44 (0)20 3 983 1818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence.