Thanks to Gail Sheehy’s The Silent Passage, the 40 million American women who will pass through menopause within the next decade will be armed with a greater sense of self-esteem, a feeling of control over their own biological destiny and the name of at least one good gynecologist.
Yet these advantages are meaningless for those of us who have to live with any of the 38 million men who will be experiencing their own “change of life” during the same period.
Hot flashes? You can always turn on the fan. Night sweats? Kick off the sheets. Mood swings? Enjoy the ride.
But how do you cope when your husband of 32 years takes up with the countergirl at Dairy Queen? Announces he’s quit his job as a junk-bond trader to run a fishing charter out of Key West? Comes home wearing a toupee that looks like a shag-carpet sample? Or worse yet, orders a 100% cotton twill bush jacket from the J. Peterman catalog and goes off to find his “Inner Stallone”? By now, you may want to trade in your 50-year-old for two 25s (if he hasn’t already beaten you to it).
As is evident in child-custody settlements, tabloid headlines and The First Wives Club, it is women who suffer most from men’s middle age. That’s why you—as a first, second, or I-just-want-to-be-last wife—need to gather as much information as you can about this stage of your man’s life. Once you understand what he is going through, you can sympathize with it, prepare for the inevitable and, as a show of faith, put Ivana Trump’s and Marla Maples’ divorce lawyers on retainer.
As usual, women have to help their men, because, let’s face it, men can’t help themselves (except to their clients’ trust funds, your kid’s baby-sitter or the last of the good Scotch). And now they have a new excuse: It has recently been discovered that middle-aged males, like women at menopause, are merely victims of their no-longer-raging hormones.
That’s right. Medical scientists finally admit that there is a “male menopause.” Until now, the highly complex, self-destructive and ridiculous behaviors exhibited by the middle-aged man were patronizingly referred to as “midlife crisis.” Now research has confirmed that it is a series of serious, escalating and devastating biological changes that bring about those highly complex, self-destructive and ridiculous behaviors.
As you’ll learn, men‘s levels of testosterone, like women’s levels of estrogen, take a dive with age. When this hormone loses potency, a middle-aged man is like a one-armed war veteran who can still feel his amputated limb but can no longer do push-ups. But with this new medical understanding, men can now blame it all on their hormones, just as women since Eve have done. Of course, the danger is that they will take even less responsibility for their actions than ever before.
Arm yourself with The Not-So-Silent Passage to help you both along this perilous journey!