How do you explain PMS?

I got an email last night from a kallah (bride) who is planning her wedding. When you are dating and even engaged you can hide certain parts of your mood swings (if you have them) because you are putting your best face forward for the few hours an evening that you are spending with your intended.

She wanted to know how to explain her PMS to her husband-to-be without frightening him off. He only knows her as the perky happy smiley chick who he is marrying. He has never before come across her monthly grumps, moodiness, flying-off-a-handle-for-nothing-ness and however else her PMS comes across. Every woman is different. She wants to prepare him enough so that he is not freaked out that an alien has taken her over but not so scared that he runs for the hills.

So…. What advice would you give this young couple?

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30 Comments

  1. Leah Sarah says:

    Interesting question. I would hope all people getting married would understad that they now will be seeing their spouse 24/7 and are prepared to take what comes with that. Surely he isn’t always the funny, kind, charming individual that he seems to be on dates. He’s human, after all. I personally think the best option isn’t to preemptively worry him about these impending mood swings of super crazy, but rather be mature enough to apologize after if any behavior was rude to him.

    Do they cover this sort of thing in chosson class?! Lol

  2. rubyv says:

    Be upfront. For pete’s sake, these are two adults about to enter a sexual relationship. This is part of the problem with the matchmaking system. Hiding something so important aboutbyourself becausebyou have a very few hours to make an impression is frankly sad and problematic. If you are going to sleep with this man, then discussing pms should be there.

    • concerned says:

      so people should sleep with each and/or live with each other before getting married?? What do you suggest is a better way to meet instead of just knocking something it doesnt seem your so familiar with?

      • rubyv says:

        Um, where did i mention premarital sex? Two people about to have a sexual relationship should be able to discuss problematic topics like pms. The disconnect between such an intimate relationship impending combined with an inability tobhave frank conversation because of the pressure of maintaining a facade during this process is problematic and does not involve premarital sex. It requires honesty.

        • rubyv says:

          There are many ways to meet people that don’t involve the shidduch process. Some of the most successful marriages I know involve people who have met in classes, museums, art events, parties, etc.

        • I couldn’t agree with rubyv more. Concerned obviously didn’t read what she said. It doesn’t matter how they met or whether they’re having premarital sex – the fact is that they’re an adult couple entering into a permanent (and yes, eventually sexual) union. PMS is a part of nature; they should both be comfortable talking about it like grown-ups.

  3. Risa says:

    First off, neither of them are going to be their ‘dating selves’ all day long all the time, with or without PMS. But besides that PMS is not something you have to accept. At one point I was really suffering from PMS and I went to talk to my doctor. I was given some meds to take at the onset which relaxed me and relieved just about all the symptoms, certainly the ones that the made me cranky and teary. Being a woman isn’t always easy but you don’t have to always feel cursed and no one should be afraid to ask for help.

  4. le7 says:

    There is this Lubavitch taharas mishpacha book and it has an appendix dealing exactly with this issue. It is written for the man to read so he knows when to be understanding… (It also talks about issues like, being considerate and helpful on mikvah night and what not).

  5. Z! says:

    To think that this guy is so clueless about PMS is kinda cute, but he has a mother and maybe sisters- right? And let’s be honest, men throughout the ages have blamed PMS for everything weird we women do. I have a feeling HE will be the first to throw the “do you have PMS?” punch. (unless of course his kallah becomes pregnant right away and WHOA CHARLIE- is HE in for a rude hormonal wakening!

  6. Mike S. says:

    Allow me to offer a man’s perspective.
    1) He is also not going to be as pleasant and cheerful as he presumably is on a date 24/7/354. And I assume that even at other times of the month, she won’t be either. This is part of living with someone else. If he is mature enough to marry, he understands this already. Unless her mood swings are so extreme that she is practically unlivable then, in which case she should seek medical advice. At least PMS is relatively predictable and of limited duration.
    2) Unless he is both incredibly sheltered and has no women who suffer PMS in his immediate family, he has heard of PMS before. I am sure if she mentions at some point that she suffers from this particularly strongly, he will understand–if he doesn’t she should marry someone else anyway, because the fellow is either too immature to marry or a jerk.
    3) At least in the case of my wife, both the PMS and the painful cramping went away after the birth of our first child.

    • rubyv says:

      Sorry mike, my pms worsened post childbirth. I have other medical issues that kick in pre menstrually with the crying, crankiness, and insomnia. My spouse is awesome. And you are right, no one is perfect all of the time, which i hope is a reality they embrace quickly. Our quirks make us who we are, along with the good.

  7. anonymous says:

    I’m with rubyv. If you know each other well enough to be getting married, you shouldn’t still be so concerned about “putting your best face forward” that you keep important things from each other!

    • rubyv says:

      I guess the question is do they really know each other well enough to get married? How well they know each other is a standard that varies.

  8. batya from NJ says:

    Truthfully, i think we women are quick to blame everything on PMS. I remember joking with my husband years ago that I have Pre-MS, Post-MS & of course MS but seriously I think we need to take responsibility for our actions & try to treat our loved ones as best as possible both before & after marriage & not only while we are trying to snag them!

    Like others were saying, I agree that the guy won’t always be as awesome as he appears to be on dates just like it won’t be easy for her as well but that is life & the challenge of living harmoniously with another person.

    & I agree with Z! that one way she will get rid of PMS is to get pregnant right awaybut those pregnancy hormones will likely be way worse than the PMS was for her. Bottom line, we can’t blame EVERYTHING on PMS & hormones & we need to try to control our behaviors with our loved ones after our marriage if we want it to last.

  9. Nora says:

    Most men know what PMS is. If when she gets it she explains it to him odds are good he’ll roll with it and move on. If he really can’t handle a woman who’s occasionally moody he shouldn’t be getting married anyhow.

    • batya from NJ says:

      Nora, i think it really depends HOW crazy she acts during that time b/c no one wants to be living with a raving lunatic even occasionally. at least i wouldn’t want that & i’m sure the girl herself would not be thrilled if her husband would fly off the handle at certain times of the month…

      • Nora says:

        Well no, obviously. But for most women PMS is a couple of days where emotions run higher and things are a little harder to deal with. If it’s really severe, raving lunatic severe- if you will, she should talk to her doctor about possible treatments.

        • batya from NJ says:

          she certainly should if it’s so severe but it’s really hard for us readers who don’t even know her to have any clue as to the degree of severity…i will add though that just as she has managed to control these unpleasant emotions from him thus far, she should try to continue to do so as she would for a stranger or a boss or what have you. I remember reading somewhere about how we tend to treat strangers & acquaintances more nicely sometimes than we treat our loved ones which is sad but human nature, i guess…
          in short, i just have an issue with ppl. using their hormones as a justifiable excuse for their inappropriate behaviors.

  10. lady lock and load says:

    First of all, mazal tov to the chosson and kallah. Now about her question “how do I explain to him about PMS”. I would say Dear Kallah, I know that you want to be the most beautiful and perfect kallah on the planet for your chosson. But guess what…noone is perfect! Your chosson knows that and as you begin your married life together he will find out that a woman goes through hormonally induced mood swings and will hopefully be very understanding. I think you are worried that you may sometimes not be a perfect little wife and that your husband will see you in the morning without your makeup on. But guess what, your chosson is not perfect either, noone is, and you will love each other and grow to know each other. I don’t think it’s necessary to tell your chosson about PMS at this stage….

  11. lady lock and load says:

    Additionally, if this really worries you I think you should mention PMS- Prehistoric Monster Syndrome- to your chosson and he’ll probably say Oh, my mother/sister has or had that, or “I learned all about that in my chosson classes”.
    mazal tov and may you be zocheh to build a bayis neeman in Israel.

  12. fille says:

    Does PMS really exist? I thought it was just an insult that men throw at women….

    • rubyv says:

      Fille, i have severe PMS due to a severe complicated migraine and endometriosis. I am in horrible pain a good portion every month. I made sure my spouse was aware before we moved in together. About 5 days before, the pain and mmod swings triggered by said pain kick in. It is.honestly ugly. It wouldbhave been irresposible not to warn him.

  13. fille says:

    But what you describe seems to be something quite easy to convey…
    It’s called. I’m in pain, so please watch out…

  14. kisarita says:

    PMS is NOT the norm folks.
    It’s a DISORDER. and not only that, it’s a treatable one!
    Although it is common for some folks to characterize it as PMS when they simply don’t want to face up to women’s legitimate anger and/ or normal bitchiness. (their own and others!)
    I have to say that only a minority of all my female close friends, family members, and numerous female living mates throughout the years have had it.
    Stop the stigmatizing of female anger.

    • Z! says:

      I can definitely say that the week or so before my period I get more impatient. Usually, I think I am uber patient and calm. But, when my PMS kicks in, I just feel bad that I don’t feel as “in control as usual”. I recognize the issue but don’t always have the strength to fight the urge to snip and snap at others. It sometimes gets the best of me. Also, I get more tired.

  15. kisarita says:

    while we’re at it… if they don’t know eachother perhaps they’re not ready to get married????

  16. Batya says:

    She should relax; he’s probably hiding something, too. When she feels it coming on, she ought to just mention that it will pass. And for some women, PMS is nothing compared to hormonal moods during pregnancy. Don’t scare him.

  17. shorty says:

    Every woman’s PMS is different, and it will be different in a relationship. A woman alone, maybe feel grumpy and eat some ice cream and watch some TV. Add another body in the room, and the grumpy can turn into stupid arguments.

    I think she needs to identify to her husband what signs to look out for (eating, non stop, argumentative out of the blue….) and she needs to tell him what she would need at that time (alone time, ice cream, back rubs…)

  18. Sophia says:

    PMS is a difficult subject at the best of times. Those who are jumping on the medical bandwagon should remember that some migraine drugs are not suitable for those trying to conceive and the classic treatment for accute dysmenorhrea is hormonal birth control or similar. Yes women can manage and anticipate but an understanding spouse makes a huge difference – a married Jewish woman has one big advantage in the TH tracking which should help with this if the couple share this information.

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