This post could save your marriage (and sanity)!

Ah, spring. When grass sprouts green and buds burst forth from the trees. Horses get “antsy” in the spring and schoolchildren become increasingly rambunctious. Why? You can probably blame it on hormones.

photo by andronicusmax via PhotoRee

As women, we’re accustomed to “blaming” things on our hormones. Odd food cravings, crabby attitudes, bloating, emotional outbursts, the sudden appearance of pimples, and so forth. What we aren’t used to, however, is attributing behavioral changes in our menfolk to hormones … but they have ’em, too!

Men have shifts in their levels of testosterone and estradiol, similar to the rise and fall of estrogen/progesterone that women have monthly. Some researchers indicate men may experience hormone-related issues daily, with surges and drops in testosterone levels from morning to evening. Cranky man in the morning? Could be hormone-related. There are notable changes in male hormone levels in the spring and fall, as well, providing a possible explanation for the rise in domestic violence cases in the fall, and this…

photo by Tambako the Jaguar via PhotoRee

“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him … but David remained at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1)

We know the rest of the story. David (who should have been out bashing his enemies over the head with the guys, because that’s apparently what guys are supposed to DO in the spring) stayed home and fell prey to lust and adultery instead. Do you suppose David was dealing with hormone issues? For fellas, these fluctuations in hormone levels can cause anxiety, depression, stomach cramps, fatigue, anger, aggression, fluctuations in sexual drive, even cravings for chocolate and hot flashes.

Also known as Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS), men may demonstrate all sorts of unusual behaviors: a sudden desire to change jobs or career paths, irrational irritation and frustration about their current circumstances, blame-casting, a reversion to adolescent behavior patterns, hypersensitivity, and more.

My husband and I had a bi-annual battle royale every spring and fall for the first few years of our marriage. He would be dissatisfied about SOMETHING … his job, our relationship, his future, our finances, etc. No matter what I did to “fix” it, nothing helped, which left me frustrated and angry. Has your husband ever tried to fix your hormonal issues, whether PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopause? How effective were his efforts?

photo by johnmuk via PhotoRee

I don’t remember where I found the information about IMS, but it was heaven-sent. Realizing that my husband was not losing his mind every spring and fall was a huge help. (As much of a help as when HE learned about PMS and pregnancy hormones.) Instead of reacting in fear and anger to his argumentative attitude, sudden urge to go buy a new motorcycle/truck/airplane/TV/bed no matter what our checkbook said, general itchiness for extreme physical activity (skydiving, snowboarding, dirt biking, etc.), and endless “discussions” about his true purpose in life, I could step back and view the situation objectively, with a hint of compassion. He was caught in the midst of a PMS-like haze and didn’t even know it!

While there’s no surefire “cure” for IMS, knowing that your husband may be dealing with a hormonal shift in his body might be enough to defuse your own furious reaction to his ranting or withdrawal. For treatment (beyond chocolate, which you might both need) some have suggested that increasing the frequency of one’s intimate marital relations may assuage the worst of the symptoms. (It’s worth a try, anyway!)

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