What to do when your girlfriend or wife is PMSing and it seems like everything you say or do is wrong.
Look, guys, we can't help it. And during the other three weeks of the month, we're sorry, we really are (even if we won't admit it.) But c'mon, you guys don't have to go through pregnancy, childbirth, all of the annoying and awful things estrogen (and it's fluctuations) can do...the least you can do is be understanding of our suffering.
Perhaps you'd love to understand, and you've put in a valiant effort, but what worked last month got you nothing but screams and smacks this month, and you're not sure you'll ever have sex again? Well, I'm going to try to help you out.
You'll be well on your way to understanding if you can first get an idea of how awful it can be belonging to the sex that's full of estrogen.
Not only does estrogen make it easier to gain and harder to lose weight (so how is it fair that women are more harshly judged for their weight than men?) estrogen levels and their often unpredictable fluctuations can cause: headaches, migraines, nausea, vomiting, bloating, (eating a handful of chips and gaining 3lbs of water weight, usually right around the stomach, making those jeans that fit this morning so uncomfortable) excessive urination, (when the water-retention stops and it all has to go somewhere) acne, mood swings, exhaustion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, irrational behaviour, impaired decision-making, increased sensitivity to pain, and hot or cold flashes, just to name a few. And if we end up with a condition, like PCOS, that increases our testosterone levels and decreases estrogen levels, we end up: furry in places you don't want us to be, balding, overweight, over-muscular, and otherwise manly (it doesn't fix the mood swings because the fluctuating levels can cause random rages like teenagers in puberty...fun.)
Starting to feel absolutely ecstatic that you were born with a pair of testicles, yet?
So what can you do about all of this? Or, more accurately, how can you make sure you don't break up for 4-7 days every month?
Support, Support, Support.
Be a "yes man" for a week. I know you don't want to feel henpecked, but this isn't a matter of giving up your equal status in your relationship, it's just giving some consideration to how crappy your wife or girlfriend feels. Of course, not every woman becomes a PMS monster, but if you date one who does, and she's completely wonderful the other 3 weeks of the month, it's worth the effort.
Listen, Summarize, One-up
Really, we just want you to understand how upset we are. But despite all the talk about women being better communicators, we can be awfully bad at explaining why not getting invited to the bridal shower of a co-worker we don't like anyway is such a horrible thing. (Perhaps it's because it isn't such a horrible thing, and somewhere in the rational part of our brains we know that, but we're upset from the hormones and we reach for some reason, no matter how unlikely?) Of course, you've probably learned that pointing stuff like that out ("but you don't even like her!") is not the best thing to do. But please don't just agree, either. Just nodding and saying "yeah, that sucks" lets us know that you don't care, and probably aren't even listening. Try summarizing, for example: "she invited everyone else and not you?!"
What do I mean by one-upping? Well, it's what women often do with each other to show sympathy. For example, if your girlfriend ended her rant with "that dumb hussy" you should end your rant with "that useless (term for female dog)" It may seem like that would enrage your girlfriend or wife further, but in most cases, it will actually defuse things and end the rant. If you're going to judge our evil co-worker even more harshly than we did, and you weren't even there, it means that you a)trust our version of events, b)are on our side, and c)understand what an evil thing she did. Therefore, we don't have to talk about it anymore. And isn't that what you want?
Let Her Play the Martyr
Another weird thing about PMS: it seems to make us forget everything useful you've ever done, and remember every mistake you've ever made. In some magical way, it also makes us forget every mistake we've ever made, but remember every little thing we've ever done for you that you didn't notice or reciprocate! (Again, I promise we’re not doing it on purpose.) The good news is: you can anticipate and defuse this. By giving her a little extra appreciation before she goes on an hour-long tirade about how you never notice x, y, and z, you can avoid suffering through it. For example: “You’ve been working a ton lately. You must be exhausted. Can I get/make/do something for you?” A compliment that recognizes efforts she makes for you works well, too: “Geez, honey; you get up early with the kids, run around after them all day, have a great meal ready for me when I get home, and you still look hot enough to make all my friends jealous.” You might think that’s going overboard, but for most women, it’s really not.
I can’t speak for every single woman out there, because everyone experiences PMS a little differently, but when I PMS I feel a little bit like when I’m pleasantly buzzed, but not drunk. You know when you have a little voice in your head saying “no one wants to hear that” but you tell that stupid story or joke anyway, because the alcohol thinks it’s funny? Or the voice says “yelling and arguing in public is dumb” but the alcohol says “that guy insulted (insert local sports team,) he needs to be taught a lesson!” Well, I have a little voice saying “you’re overreacting, and you’re going to be apologizing a lot tomorrow” and the hormones saying “but he needs to know that he doesn’t show me he loves me often enough, and that he was a total jerk that one time 2 months ago!” So, it might work if you think of your PMSing girlfriend like you would a drunk buddy who’s trying to start a fight with a 300lb guy at a bar: you’re not going to tell him he’s wrong, (of course that guy needs a beating) but you’re still going to think of a way, any way, to defuse the situation.