I'm a mother of four who enjoys helping others with life's many difficulties.
"Yes, Dear: I Have the Chocolate"
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, Psychotic Mood Shift, Puffy Mid-Section, Perpetual Munching Spree, Pass My Snacks, Potential Murder Suspect or very simply PMS. These very initials often send a shiver of dread down the spine of any male over the age of 12.
Men of all ages have had their encounters with this cyclical beast. Whether it’s a sister, mother, wife, girlfriend, there is no escaping it. The dreaded PMS monster has been an object of fear and horror by males for millennia. Ever since the first mammals evolved the male of the species has been cowering in fear over changes in the female during the pre-menstrual cycle. Women during this time can become half mythical harpies and demons loosed upon the unsuspecting mortal male.
Of course, dealing with PMS from a male standpoint isn’t easy. At any other time, we ladies would agree with your assessments of the whole process 100%. I think I can speak for the majority of women, when I tell you—WE don’t like it either. We like being able to think, fit in our jeans, eat a balanced meal, be logical and unemotional during life’s little mishaps. We don’t like the mess, the cramps, the sleepiness, grouchiness, chocolate cravings or the mood swings. When we get to heaven—we want to talk to the Manager—dammit! Of course, we know how far we’d get on that front.
So what exactly is PMS? Medically, it’s nature’s cycle in a female to cleanse the body of unneeded tissue due to not being impregnated. Hormones regulate these functions for women just like certain hormones tend to affect men. (That is a whole ‘nother article!) Of course, the pesky hormones that regulate this cycle often have side effects. Men, let me tell you, it’s the side effects that cause the problems. Not only physically—but the mentally as well. The psychological state of a female in the throes of PMS is not for the fainthearted.
The time honored tradition of men has been to depart the immediate vicinity as quickly as possible at the first hint of Petite Madness Syndrome. This is either very wise or very foolish depending on the presenting symptoms. Most males seem to have difficulty recognizing symptoms at an opportune time. The first step for men is to be able to recognize the basic symptoms. Symptoms include but are not limited to the following areas.
Crying over commercials, crying over the kids’ Disney movies, crying because the cat got hair on our best slacks—again. In short, if your female companion or loved one cries over something that would normally not phase them in the slightest- you are entering the PMS zone.
The appropriate by you? Hugs, tell them you’ll fix it (and mean it!) or simply say “Yes dear, I know” while hugging. This powerful phrase is something that every male should be taught from birth. Simply leaving the immediate vicinity or saying nothing tends to provoke the next symptom.
Unexplained anger is the flipside to crying. It is also the most prevalent yet unrecognized symptom of PMS. If your normally steady, unflappable pillar of strength suddenly starts banging around the house and you can reasonably assume that:
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- You haven’t done anything to provoke it such as forgot to take out the trash for the umpteenth time, left the lid up—again, and/or any other of the usual man triggers or
- The children, boss, best friend or other outside person has not done something so awful that killing them or cleaning the kitchen are the only options. Then you have again entered the PMS zone.
If you attempt to find out the reason—be warned—it will be about everything YOU have/have not done for the last umpteen years. There will be no logic involved—the hormones have shut off the logic center for the duration. Attempting to defuse the situation by talking will usually result in someone sleeping on the couch—usually you. The best defense if you can have at this point is that powerful phrase “Yes dear”. No matter what—she will be right. This is not the time to let your hormones try to take on her hormones. You will lose and may get physically injured by flying cleaning or cooking objects. Simply agree that everyone and everything is designed to make her life miserable and let the hormone storm pass: it will be quicker and less painful for you in the long run.
You may decide not to confront the whirling dervish in the living room armed with the window cleaner. Leaving on an errand is permissible—but only if you take every other human being in the house with you—or else. Hiding in the bedroom, TV room or garage is not a wise choice—unless you can be shown to be doing something productive—cleaning out the closet, the cars or picking up the mess the kids made- again. Hiding out at your buddy’s house while watching the game is an absolute no-no. How dare you have fun and relax when there’s work to be done?!
Withdrawal and Cravings
Your normally on top of it all, multi-tasking woman suddenly grabs the bag of Doritos, Hershey’s Kisses, 5 quarts of ice cream or any other snack item. She then proceeds to snarl at anyone or anything that interrupts her TV show, book, computer time or other one person activity. You guessed it—the PMS zone.
This is the time when women usually realize that their anger and irritability are about to erupt in a vesuvian fashion if everyone and everything in life does not just GO AWAY!
Animals, obnoxious children and unsuspecting males who disturb this rumbling mountain of hormonal activity may suffer lasting and irreparable harm. So what’s a savvy male to do? Everything she would normally do. Make dinner, feed and bathe kids, if you have them. Get them in bed. Clean up the evening messes. In short, it doesn’t matter that the kids didn’t brush their teeth, dinner was frozen pizza and you’ll actually need to do laundry if you need clothes tomorrow. Just keep the peace and quiet flowing around her. If this doesn’t happen—see the solutions for the above symptoms—you’re gonna need them and a large bar or bag of her favorite chocolate doesn’t hurt either.
You wake up and it looks like a terrorist bomb exploded in the closet. Ominous mutterings are echoing out of the bathroom. Through the crack in the door you see your beloved scowling at the mirror while talking to herself under her breath. You have blearily stumbled into the PMS zone.
Men, I cannot stress this enough—DO NOT tell us we look fine. This will bring out the first two symptoms, thereby compounding your error before you’ve even had your morning jolt of caffeine. Additionally, many women will tell you—don’t look, don’t touch, don’t talk about my body. Why? We’re bloated, sore in some areas, and we feel we look like we need to have back-up warning sirens attached to our cabooses. If we mention our weight gain and bloating immediately get out your handy phrase: “Yes dear, I know”. This must always be followed quickly by the words: “but it will pass in a few days and you’ll feel better.” Not one word more or less! You have been warned!
Every woman has her individual rituals for dealing with what is aptly called “the curse”. (Someday, someone needs to ask why Adam got off so lightly!) Learn those ritual—anticipate those needs—chocolate, peace and quiet, kind and loving words at the right moment and a pair of comforting arms. Use “Yes dear” wisely and often. You’ll be the hero of the moment and the most highly talked about partner at any gathering of women. Other men will want to know your secret. Teenage boys will look up to you in awe.
Remember, PMS isn’t forever. Your logical, loving, sweet tempered sweetheart will return soon since for most women this period only lasts about a week. Until menopause . . .
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.