A Little Chat With Husbands - Part Four: PMS

PMS and the Christian Husband’s Response

By Craig Bluemel

 

How does a Christian husband handle his wife’s PMS emotions?

 

Recently I received an email question from a Christian husband asking what the biblical requirements of a husband were when his wife lashed out at him in anger, which is symptomatic of her severe premenstrual syndrome.  Wanting to take responsibility for loving his wife as Christ loves his church, he felt as if God omitted from the Bible the PMS owner’s manual for husbands to deal with the wife’s emotions during this difficult monthly cycle.

 

According to the precepts and commandments of scripture, a Christian husband’s duty presents him with some considerable challenges and requires him treat his wife with tenderness and equal regard in the Lord at all times and during her PMS, his a response should include extra care by lavishing her with sympathy, patience, comfort, compassion, gentleness, love and forgiveness.  In short, the mandate from God to all husbands is to love their wives as Jesus loves his church, sacrificially giving his own life to redeem and sanctify her.  Sacrifice means he is to treat her weakness or even sinful behavior as Jesus treats him when he is weak and sins.

 

Though the scriptures do not provide every detail concerning the Christian husband’s treatment of his wife, there’s plenty of simple, easy-to-understand information in the language of both Old Testament and New Testament to figure out pragmatic applications.  This article is not a comprehensive course on marriage relationships; nonetheless, it is my own observations of marriages, including some of my own failures and successes, and what I feel is useful to any man that wants to pattern his marriage relationship according to the precepts taught in scripture.

 

As far as a husband dealing with his wife’s PMS emotions, in scripture the primary responsibility required of the believing husband is to treat her in the same manner that Jesus Christ does his church.  Each Christian husband must decide individually how to do this, based upon his relationship with God, Christ, and his wife.  I personally hold an unwavering position on this issue, which is the husband’s obedience to God’s commandments without any compromise, aiming for nothing less than to love his wife as Jesus loves his church.  The only standard is Jesus. 

 

The text of 1 Peter 3:7-18 is commonly misinterpreted because very few Christians realize this entire body of text is directed specifically at the husband’s treatment of his wife, and his Christ-like response to her during times of turmoil and conflict (e.g. – helping her during the inevitable emotional turbulence she feels during her premenstrual cycle).  In fact, if you carefully read the text of 1 Peter 3:7-18, you’ll find God’s “owner’s manual,” contains the exact instructions the Christian husband needs to deal with things like outbursts of anger as the symptom of premenstrual syndrome, a serious medical condition. 

 

There are many other scripture passages that could be applied, but I have only listed three New Testament passages, beginning with Colossians 3:19, Ephesians 5:25-31 and finally 1 Peter 3:7-18. 

PMS – What Is a Husband’s Scriptural Response?

 

I chose to use the Amplified Bible because it ‘amplifies’ the meaning of the original Greek language, making pragmatic exegesis uncomplicated.  Some key words are highlighted and others are the author’s {bracketed insertion} and not part of the Amplified Bible text, but I believe indicate what the Greek text intends.  For example, in 1 Peter 3:8 the word {husbands} is bracketed as follows, “Finally, all of you {husbands} should be of one and the same mind, united in spirit, sympathizing with one another, loving each other as brethren of one household.” The word {husbands} was inserted into the narrative to assist those less familiar with the use of scripture and anyone that regularly uses scripture exegesis will not find this problematic because insertions are clearly indicated.

 

Proof the overall context of 1 Peter 3:7-18 applies directly to the husband is found in the parallel between what is written in 1 Peter 3:7b and 3:12; both verses detail whether or not the husband’s prayers will be heard by God, based solely upon how he treats his wife, including his righteous response to her negativity (e.g. – anger, insults, etc).  Here are the scripture verses quoted for comparison:

 

1 Peter 3:7b “… in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off; otherwise you cannot pray effectively.

 

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, those who are upright and in right standing with God, and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil, to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them.

 

If you are a husband reading this, ask yourself if you are compliant with God’s word, and ask Him to reveal whatever areas of weakness or shortcomings you have in your own marriage.

 

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives be affectionate and sympathetic with them and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.  AMP

 

Why does God command husbands to not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward his wife, but does not give the same commandment towards her?  Think about it.

 

Ephesians 5:25-31 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

 

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.  31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. NASU

 

1 Peter 3:7-18

3:7 In the same way you married men should live considerately with your wives, with an intelligent recognition of the marriage relation, honoring the woman as physically the weaker, but realizing that you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off; otherwise you cannot pray effectively. 

 

3:8 Finally, all of you {husbands} should be of one and the same mind {with your wife}, united in spirit, sympathizing with one another, loving each other as brethren of one household, compassionate and courteous, tenderhearted and humble. 

 

3:9 {Husbands should} never return evil for evil or insult for insult, scolding, tongue-lashing, berating, but on the contrary blessing, praying for their {wife’s} welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them.  For know that to this you {husbands} have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing from God — that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection {to your wife}. 

 

3:10 For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days; good, whether apparent or not, keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile, treachery, deceit. 11 Let him turn away from wickedness and shun it, and let him do right.  Let him search for peace, harmony; undisturbedness from {his wife’s} fears, {her} agitating passions, and moral conflicts and seek it eagerly.  Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellowmen {wife as fellow heir}, and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!  12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, those who are upright and in right standing with God, and His ears are attentive to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil, to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them.

 

3:13-15 Now who {which wife} is there to hurt you {husbands} if you are zealous followers of that which is good?  14 But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed, happy, to be envied.  Do not dread or be afraid of their {wife’s} threats, nor be disturbed by their opposition.  15 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy and acknowledge Him as Lord.  Always be ready to give a {her} logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 

 

3:16 And see to it that your conscience is entirely clear and unimpaired, so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers {by her emotional tirade}, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed of slandering your good lives.

 

3:17-18 For it is better to suffer unjustly for doing right, if that should be God's will, than to suffer justly for doing wrong.  18 For Christ himself died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty, that He might bring us to God.   AMP

 

In 1 Peter 3:7 I highlighted in bold italics to draw particular attention to four words, “In the same way you married men should…”  The way we interpret entire body of text in the third chapter of Peter’s First Epistle hinges on the use and meaning of these words.  1 Peter 3:7 uses a Greek word homoíoos, which simply means, “likewise, similar, in the same way.”  The question we are forced to answer is this, “likewise, similar or in the same way as WHAT?”  The context of 1 Peter 3:1-6 discusses the responsibility of the wife to be subject to her husband by using Sarah’s behavior toward her husband Abraham.

 

1 Peter 3:1-2 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. NASU

 

1 Peter 3:1 uses the identical Greek word, “homoíoos” as in 1 Peter 3:7; so now, to determine the person or character that both husband and wife are to imitate, “in the same manner,” we must back up further in the context and find a starting point in 1 Peter chapter two.  The theme of submission to a higher authority begins in 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution…”   The same Greek word hupotassoo (NT: 5293) is used in 1 Peter 2:13, 2:18, 3:1, 3:5 & 3:22.  This Greek word for “submit” in 2:13 means, “to arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection.”[1]  Therefore, the context of our study about husbands actually gets its earliest beginning in 1 Peter 2:18 (below):

 

1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. NIV

 

Peter then uses the slave-to-servant relationship to illustrate how Christ acted.  The Christian slave (or servant) carries his or her behavior respectfully, regardless of whether their master’s treatment is good or harsh.  In this way, Jesus is brought into the context, as He that suffered much, but maintained integrity of character by exemplifying his submissive relationship to his Father God.  Jesus did not retaliate or seek revenge or payback of any kind. 

 

It is important to read the entire text of 1 Peter 2:18-25 because Peter uses Jesus as role model for how husbands and wives are to treat one another.  Please note Jesus was servant to his higher authority, which was God.  As a man, he continually entrusted himself into God’s hands, even when being unjustly treated, wrongly accused, and even crucified.  To the bitter end with his last breath Jesus entrusted himself into his Father’s hands, yielding his spirit up in one final act of trust and obedience.

 

1 Peter 2:18-25 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?  But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.  NASB

 

Another important consideration for why the text of 1 Peter 3:7-18 is a narrative directed specifically at husbands is the meaning and grammatical construction of key words in the Greek text.  In 1 Peter 3:8a, it reads as follows: Tó dé télos pántes homófrones[2]  The Greek word télos is a noun constructed with the definite article ; therefore, “Finally,” as used in the Amplified is an inadequate translation, even though it does imply transition.  The Greek noun télos is translated in the NASU as, “to sum up,” and this conveys more of the intended meaning, but is no better than the Amplified Bible because it still ignores the fact télos is a noun with definite article.  Strong’s defines the Greek word télos (NT: 5056) from a primary tello, meaning, “to set out for a definite point or goal.” 

 

The proper exegetical use of télos as a noun means, “the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. (by implication) the conclusion of an act or state, in all uses, whether literal, figuratively or indefinite; it is the end result or purpose of an action.[3]  A few modern synonyms for, “definite point or goal,” are, “The exact objective, the distinct purpose, the precise mark or target.” 

 

What comes to mind when we think of the husband’s goal being “to aim” at being like Christ as the, “precise mark,” is the antonym (opposite) of this word meaning, which is, “to miss the mark.”  To, “miss the mark,” is the literal definition of the root Greek word for “sin” (hamartia), which comes from the root, “hamartano (NT:264); to miss the mark and so not share in the prize, i.e. figuratively to err, especially (morally) to sin.”[4]  I’m reminded of the saying, “To aim at Christ and miss the mark is sin.”  James 4:17 sheds more light on missing the mark by failing to do what you know is right.

 

James 4:17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin (hamartia). AMP

 

The use of the particle denotes transition; as a particle, stands after one or two words in a clause, frequently denoting transition or conversion, and serves its purpose by introducing something else, whether opposed to what precedes or simply continuative or explanatory.  Generally has the meaning of but, and, or also, & namely.[5]  Based upon these qualifications, 1 Peter 3:8a could be rendered as, “Namely, the end result and purpose…

 

One other word inadequately translated in 1 Peter 3:8 is rendered by the Amplified as, “loving each other as brethren of one household.”  There is no mention of the typical Greek word for house, or household (oikos); instead, 1 Peter 3:8 uses filádelfoi (NT: 5361), an anarthrous predicate adjective and Thayer’s best defines its use here as, “loving a brother or sister.”[6]  Hence, 1 Peter 3:8a is a continuation of instruction to the husband concerning how he treats his wife as “fellow heir of the grace of life” by loving her as a sister {in Christ}. 

 

This helps strengthen the interpretation that the entire context of 1 Peter 3:7-18 is meant to be specifically applied TO the husband in a marriage relationship; as a brother in Christ-to-wife-as sister in Christ.  Further evidence is found in 1 Peter 2:17; this verse uses a word cognate of filádelfoi (3:8), which is adelfóteeta (Strong’s # NT:81).  This word adelfóteeta in 1 Peter 2:17 does not mean, “loving brother or sister,” but instead it is defined as meaning, “brotherhood; the abstract for the concrete, a band of brothers, i. e. of Christians, Christian brethren. [7]  In 1 Peter 2:17 the NASU translates the word adelfóteeta as, “brotherhood” and the AMP translates the same word adelfóteeta 1 Peter 5:8 as, “brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.”

 

The words, “intelligent recognition,” in the Amplified Bible version of 1 Peter 3:8 are translated in the NAS as, “in an understanding way.”  The Greek word used is homophron (NT: 3675); Vine’s defines this word as from homos, “the same,” and phren, “the mind,” occurs in the RV as, “likeminded,” and in the KJV as, “of one mind.”  This word meaning is important to understand because it is the first thing mentioned as the husband’s goal.  The same word cognate phroneo is used twice in Philippians 2:2 (highlighted below in blue), speaking of the mind that was in Christ.

 

Philippians 2:2 Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind (phroneo) and one in purpose (phroneo), having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. AMP

 

Using the aforementioned Greek text modifications and the literal definition meanings of a few other Greek words in this verse, below I have provided a complete verse of 1 Peter 3:8, retranslated for simple exegesis (exegesis simply means practical application).

 

The Appropriate Translation

 

1 Peter 3:8 – The end result of {the husband’s} precise aim is being of the same harmonious mind and intention {as his wife}, sympathetically feeling what she feels, loving {her} as a sister, compassionate, tenderhearted and humble-minded.  TAT

 

Another New Testament scripture passage that affirms the use of the Greek words télos in the same manner; that is, as the goal of Christian living being love from a pure heart (see below).

 

1 Timothy 1:5 But () the () goal (télos) of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  NASU

 

Many legalistic churches disregard the scriptural mandate by teaching the husband is the “priest” of his household and that the woman must always first “submit” to his God-given authority.  This is a warped view and it distorts the clear teaching of scripture, which says the wife is to be subject to her husband AS UNTO the Lord (not as unto the husband).  The teaching found in Ephesians 5:22-24 means the wife is subject to the husband in everything that the husband does and says that is LIKE Jesus.  She is NOT subject to his behavior and words outside of the will of God, when he is in the flesh instead of “in the Lord.”  A wife should NEVER tolerate abuse and physical or verbal abuse is never to be tolerated.

 

 The husband must HONOR his wife’s female nature as physically the weaker, but not as inferior, and he is not to speak to her or treat her in a condescending way.  He is to treat her as a sister in Jesus Christ primarily, relating to her as a joint heir of the grace of life.  If he fails to do so, his prayers will be hindered and cut off, and he will be unable to pray effectively.  Next, I will explain the physiology of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and ways to help your wife and heal your marriage.

 

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

 

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a medical disorder characterized by a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in women before menstruation.  Women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) experience an abnormal response to normal hormonal changes that occur during her menstrual cycle, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 22, 1998.  Experts said the study called into question the designation of PMS as a psychiatric disorder.  They said the study provides strong evidence to support what researchers have long suspected: that cyclical fluctuations in blood levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone play an important role in the syndrome's onset.  So what may seem to some husbands as the “monster inside” during PMS may indicate the wife falls into the category of severe PMS symptoms experienced by about 2.5% of the female population.[8]  Seek professional help only from a medical doctor for help and treatment options.

 

The study authors said that cyclical variations in estrogen and progesterone may lower levels of key brain chemicals, such as serotonin, in some women, but not in others.  They further speculated that the difference was genetically based.  Some experts said the hypothesis was compelling because antidepressants, medications that raise serotonin levels, were often effective in treating PMS.  Moreover, the study also showed that PMS is triggered in some women by normal hormonal fluctuations, rather than by a deficiency or excess of hormones, as many researchers believed.

 

The symptoms of PMS usually last for about a week and dissipate with the onset of menstrual bleeding.  These symptoms typically begin at or after ovulation (release of an egg by the ovaries), and continue until menstruation begins.  The most common physical symptom of Premenstrual Syndrome is low energy and fatigue.  Other physical symptoms of the hormonal changes excess sodium and fluid retention, leading to swelling or bloating, cramps, craving for sweet or salty foods, sore breasts, swollen feet or hands, headaches, acne, and various gastrointestinal problems.[9] 

 

The emotional symptoms of PMS generally include depression, irritability, anxiety, or mood swings.  As caring and nurturing husbands, our awareness should be heightened and extra care given to what we say and how we say it during this monthly cycle.  Whereas our wives may normally be carefree enough to enjoy some playful teasing or jokes, during this time the same playfulness can easily be misinterpreted and unintentionally distorted; she may feel like she is being criticized.  Her atypical reaction may be expressed with body language that says, “You hurt me,” or in wives that are among the 2.5% of women with severe PMS symptoms, she may blow up at you and go into an angry venting.  This needs to be taken in stride, and as the scriptures mentioned, the husband must try to feel her suffering, be sympathetic and humble-minded toward her.  This is easier said than done, but entrusting one’s self into God’s hands you will find His grace sufficient for the need.

 

Above all else, regardless of what her reaction is, the wise husband will not take it personally, but recognize his wife’s emotions are caused by hormonal changes.  As I’m sure most husbands have already discovered, this time of the month requires humility and a willingness to apologize to her for speaking out of turn, or being careless, even though there is absence of malice.  This is where many husbands blow it.  Instead of being a soft place for her to land, they “react” to her “reaction.  By “reacting” the husbands allows his feelings of anger to dictate his behavior and speech. 

 

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and to be a peacemaker requires the husband to respond with the heart of Jesus Christ, humbly seeking her forgiveness, (whether he’s at fault or not).  He follows this up by reassuring her that he would never intentionally hurt her feelings.  This is the pragmatic application of 1 Peter 3:8 being of the same harmonious mind and intention as his wif}, sympathetically feeling what she feels, loving her as a sister, compassionate, tenderhearted and humble-minded.

 

Some husbands try a different route other than the one prescribed by God in scripture.  They try to rationalize their wife’s hurt feelings away by explaining what she misinterpreted.  In so doing, she only feels talked at and this never works.  She does not need your litany of logical, rational arguments to demonstrate why she overreacting emotionally.  She’s a girl dude. 

 

If her hormonal change is governing her physiology, then your expectations from her emotionally need to be adjusted.  During this hormone fluctuation, her normal capability to control her feelings is seriously weakened.  Therefore, if you stomp on her feelings, (whether intentional or not), it takes humility to repair the damage and realize you just cannot reason away the way she feels.  If you try, she’ll probably interpret tour logic as an excuse for why you don’t care how she feels.

 

Husbands need to learn how to read their wife’s body language and mood.  If she becomes abnormally depressed, it’s likely the hormone change affecting her self-esteem.  During her PMS when she looks in the mirror, she views her body more negatively.  The excess sodium and water retention that is symptomatic of her hormone change makes her feel fat.  A sensitive husband will take this low self-esteem as his cue to build her self-esteem up by complimenting her on how pretty she is, and do whatever he can to make her feel special, not put down. 

 

Some husbands exacerbate the low self-esteem felt by their wives.  In their ignorance and/or carelessness, these self-absorbed husbands misinterpret her physiological craving for sweet or salty foods during PMS as synonymous with her weight gain, and then add insult to injury by criticizing her for it.  You numbskull.  What are you thinking?  Let me tell you bro, women have lonnnnnnng memories when it comes to insults.  Ten years down the road you may think it is water long past under the bridge, but she may still think it is your overall opinion of her.

 

If you are a Christian husband, you should not think it abnormal for your wife to have negative effects upon her emotional well-being.  Hormones play an essential role in the production and balance of key neurotransmitters affecting a woman's sense of confidence, well being and relaxation.  The changes in her hormones can trigger reactions that cause the neurotransmitters to stimulate and/or depress activity in the central nervous system, thereby contributing to the emotional symptoms (e.g. – crying easily, outbursts of anger, or even rage, depression, low-self esteem, feeling ‘overwhelmed’ etc). 

 

I am not advocating that a wife is absolved from her duty before God to respect her husband and just wig out just because she has severe PMS symptoms.  She still has a responsibility to discipline her attitudes or behavior, but every husband is bound by honor to the scripture to give a super-abundance of grace to her in her weakness.  Because men do not have the same or even similar hormonal changes occurring in their physical body as women do, they find it hard to relate to the emotional upheaval a woman goes thru.  The only chemical change that remotely compares is adrenaline.

 

First of all, understanding neurotransmitters is vital; they are substances that send out signals between cells and when these are adversely affected, it can throw a person’s psychological and emotional state of being into orbit.  Have you ever seen a bunch of guys watching the game on Super Bowl Sunday?  They’re hollering and whooping it up!  They don’t act that way at work, so what’s the difference?  Adrenaline.  It heightens awareness, makes you alert, and focused, and it stimulates receptors in your brain’s communication center called the ‘Central Nervous System’ or CNS.  Adrenaline can trigger signals that increase the flow of the brain’s pleasure chemical, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. 

 

Adrenaline serves another purpose, which is to help protect the body during times of stress or trauma, such as during an automobile accident.  Too much adrenaline can be dangerous and even fatal when the body remains in shock for extended periods of time. 

 

Okay guys, hver have ‘one of those days’ at work?  You know the kind, where your boss gets upset, a customer cancels a big order, or you break one of the power tools you needed to complete a job, and forced to do the work manually, you miss the deadline.  So, at the end of a 12 hour day on the job, fighting your way thru 2 ½ hours of traffic on the way home in blistering summer heat, you get in the door, and crash on the sofa.  About the time you’re just starting to relax, and enjoy the evening with the wife and kids, “BANG!”

 

Running out to the kitchen, to your dismay the water heater blew up, and now water is spraying out of the pipe and all over everything.  The adrenaline kicks in again, and after 5 hours, $500 poorer, now at 1:00 AM, how are you doing emotionally?  A little cranky?  What about the next morning at 5:00 AM, when your alarm rings?  Then you have another rotten day at the factory, and ‘one of those days’ soon turns into ‘one of those weeks!’

 

Finally, the weekend arrives at the end of your stressful 72-hour work week and you are at home on Saturday morning.  Worn out to a frazzle, you try to relax and unwind, but you feel like your, “nerves are on edge.”  Unless you charge right out and demand more adrenaline from your adrenal glands by continuing in activity that demands stress, you crash and burn.  Now something called your ‘fight-or-flight’ response kicks into high gear.  Either you ‘fight’ to maintain your adrenaline high with something like workaholism, or you rest, in ‘flight’ from the stress that triggers and stimulates adrenaline production.  As the adrenaline production in your bloodstream decreases, your haggard condition becomes self-evident; your emotional disposition is moody, grumpy and cranky.  You snap at you wife and bark at your kids, and then apologize to them saying, “I’m sorry you guys, but Dad just isn’t himself today.”  The only way to resolve your worn-out condition is by taking time to rest. 

 

Now imagine this husbands: Every single month of every year, your sweet wife goes experiences this same fatigue!  What may or may not happen to you occasionally is her monthly unannounced expectation when her premenstrual cycle begins.   Remember, fatigue is the primary symptom associated with PMS.  Perhaps this example helps you comprehend what your wife’s hormonal changes every month during her PMS do to her physiologically and emotionally.  If you’re wired out from prolonged stress because of the nature of your professional career (e.g. – air traffic controller, policeman, high school teacher in the inner-city, etc), you are forced to find ways to expend the extra adrenaline, otherwise, you’ll burn out.  Now you’re starting to understand the fatigue your wife experiences EVERY month, suddenly and without warning, not from too much work, but simply the hormonal changes and how they affect her neurotransmitter function in the central nervous system. 

 

Although premenstrual symptoms and discomfort during menstruation were once thought to be of psychological origin, research now indicates that hormonal and chemical changes are responsible.  So if your wife flies into an unexplainable rage of anger for no apparent reason, she may fall into the 2.5% of women that have this horrible experience and as her husband, you need to be supportive and sympathetic.

 

Husbands, if you’ve ever had stomach flu, or eaten some bad fish and wound up with nasty stomach cramps, you’re in a position to understand what your wife experiences every month.  Most women experience premenstrual discomfort and a few women also experience menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) during the first day or two of the period. 

 

There’s no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to dealing with a wife’s monthly PMS symptoms.  There are just too many variables to take into consideration and all of them are valid and essential.  Before anything else, I recommend always start with prayer for your wife daily.  Ask the Lord Jesus to come along side of you, guiding your search in scripture and finding resources that are needed.

 

Another BIG mistake husbands make once they learn about PMS is blaming every emotional unrest exhibited by their wife as PMS.  I have heard husbands without engaging their brain, put their mouth in gear and say something stupid like, “You havin’ your PMS again?”   Not only is it stupid to say this, it’s downright insulting.  Consider that a big part of the reason she becomes so emotionally distraught, whether during her PMS or not is your poor communication skills with her.  Lots of questions need to be asked within yourself first, such as how do you treat and communicate with your wife, and visa versa?  This question cannot be adequately answered with the words, “Fine.”  The best way to find out how good your communication is should begin by asking your wife if and what weaknesses or problem areas that bother her about you are?  It’s very humbling to do this.

 

Do what you can to help your wife and become one with her feelings and thoughts.  What is your wife’s medical history?  Has she ever been evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified medical doctor?  If so, was his diagnostic criteria helpful?  Has your wife been seen by an obstetrician gynecologist?  Many women prefer using a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist as their primary care doctors.  There are medical considerations and options available now (2005) that were unavailable only a decade ago that have proven very effective in the treatment of PMS.  Always consult your medical doctor first.  I simply pose these questions to help you see the variables and come up with your own creative solutions.  If this issue is as substantial a problem as your email indicates, maturity, personality differences, and other relevant data should also be gathered.

 

I never understood how monthly hormonal changes affected my wife until I was given           massive doses of synthetic hormone replacement therapy during multiple major surgeries.  Disease had seriously weakened and compromised my autoimmune system, lowering my cortisol levels to near fatal condition just before a complex soft tissue jaw surgery.  To keep me from dying on the operating table, I was given IV doses of 200-400cc hydrocortisone every 1 ½ - 2 hours.  All toll I had 5 orthopedic and 3 jaw surgeries, 4 periodontal, 2 oral surgeries and my post-operative recovery included heavy doses of prednisone to reduce swelling.  Later I was also given injections of testosterone and between this and the other hormonal therapies, my emotions were completely out of control at certain times. 

 

In fact, I’d find myself crying about stuff that was ridiculous and for me as a man, that was a hard pill to swallow.  My normal ability to control the emotions and handle conflict went straight out the door and at times I found myself out of control.  Growing up I was raised in the ‘old school’ of life, where big boys don’t cry and men are men.  Just the same, these dramatic hormone changes had a terrible adverse side effect, as the warning labels on the medicine containers specified.  Sometimes I’d fly off the handle and go into an angry tirade over tiny issues hardly worth mentioning.  This continued from January of 1996 thru 2003 and halfway into 2004 and I still have on occasion bouts with hormonal deficiencies that cause unprovoked emotional turmoil. 

 

My experience was perhaps the best thing that could have ever happened in my marriage because now I appreciate what my wife and women endure every single month.  I am now highly sensitive to my wife and no longer judgmental of women that struggle with premenstrual syndrome symptoms.  I’ve become much more tolerant and ready to forgive, showing forbearance to my wife.  Looking back before my experience with hormones, I was no different than most husbands in that I was totally ignorant, not because I didn’t care, but passive and indifferent.  It took the school of hard knocks for me to learn how to empathize and sympathize with my wife’s PMS feelings. 

 

My familiarity with the “weaker vessel” came at a heavy price and today, (May 2005), I live day-to-day with severe intractable pain and a terminal disease.  This has kept me riding the rail of an emotional roller coaster but I am SO thankful to God for what I have learned and become thru suffering.  I pray that you my friend and fellow husband, learn from my affliction, get off the bed of passivity and indifference, and invest your time, energy, resources or anything you as an individual man of God require.  Acknowledge your failures, mistakes, and sins and repent, confess to God being specific about the nature of your disobedience, and then by faith, take hold of the grace of God’s mercy and forgiveness thru the blood of Jesus Christ.

 

Next, having been “crucified with Christ,” by conforming to the likeness of his death (i.e. – dying to the old self & dysfunctional husband mode), and be raised up together with Jesus thru the power of his resurrection.  Become empowered thru knowledge (e.g. – reading books about PMS), prayer, sharing with other Christian husbands, scripture, talks with your mate, and whatever live with your wife according to knowledge and walk in “newness of life!”

 

It makes my blood boil when I hear Christian husbands speak about their wives PMS emotions in either sarcastic or derogatory ways.  Sadly, for too many years, I was guilty of the same, but not any longer.  I’ve been married going on 18 years, and I can only give you my perspective.  I believe there’s a lot more involved when a woman’s premenstrual cycle begins than just what the Bible teaches, as you are painfully aware.  First and foremost, as men of faith, God’s word commands us to live together with our wives in an “understanding” manner, by giving due recognition to her as the “weaker vessel.”

 

It is vitally important we husbands understand HOW our wives emotions are stimulated whenever hormonal changes occur and without any warning to prepare her.  Each of us individually need to pray for our wives, and learn to read her signals, and be in tune with her feelings so that we recognize when something doesn’t seem consistent with her normal reaction.  When your wife is brought to tears over seemingly innocuous situations, the discerning husband knows this is the time she needs him the most.  Now is the time he is to “sanctify” her by his “sacrifice” and his obedience to love her as Christ does the church.

 

I cannot teach any husband what his wife feels like during the initial phases of her premenstrual cycle.  A woman’s response to those changes varies from individual to individual.  Every husband must take many factors into account and instead of REACTING to her, he is commanded to RESPOND in love by giving his wife a super-abundance of compassion, mercy, affection, love expressed thru touch, cards, notes, actions, helping her around the house.  In closing, I hope this has provided some help to you, and the example we have in Jesus is unchanging.

 

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.

 

SELAH

 


Links to the Entire "A Little Chat with Husbands” Series:

Part 1

Part 2: My Husband is Always Angry at Me

Part 3: Pornography

Part 4: PMS and the Christian Husband’s Response

Part Five: Wives’ Survey

 


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[1] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

[2] Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc

[3] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[4] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[5] The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993

[6] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

[7] Ibid

[8] Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

[9] ibid