This article is for the spouses out there. My name is Cliff Medling. My wife, Amy, is the founder of PCOS Diva. When she asked me to write an article for her about PCOS from a husband’s perspective, I hesitated. But, then I thought I wish I had a guy’s perspective when we started this PCOS journey. So here I am to deliver some insight, and best of all, hope. Here are some things I have learned throughout our PCOS journey about life, marriage and PCOS:
1) My wife is not crazy (mostly)!
Amy was always an active, fit, energetic woman, but after our first son was born, something changed. What I remember most is that she became chronically tired. I knew that being a new mom was draining, but this seemed excessive. She was like a zombie every afternoon – no energy, crabby, we all suffered her mood swings, and she was probably depressed. I could not help thinking, “What happened to my wife?”
Before we finally received a PCOS diagnosis a year or two later, I thought, “this is psychological; there is really nothing wrong with her physically.” She was emotionally down about having trouble conceiving our second child, and I thought this trouble had a lot to do with her mood. I went along with all of the tests and different medications. I cannot remember all of the names of the medications she took, but we must have tried them all. I started thinking that I should apply for a job in the pharmaceutical industry – those guys must be doing well. None of the meds worked – and most gave her stomach issues.
With a bit of help from Clomid and other medical treatments (and learning more about a woman’s reproductive system than any man really needs to), we did get pregnant again. “Great!” I thought. All will be well now…right? Wrong. After son #2, Amy was worse. She was really dragging and seemed to be chronically tired and crabby. So, if you’re keeping track: nauseous, crabby and tired, with two young boys at home. Also, we had a very tight budget, and I was concerned about how much Amy was spending on medicine, tests, and doctor consults (outside of general practitioners). I think you get the picture of how our life was going at this point. I realize now that you can feel great with PCOS, but I did not know this at the time. I just felt hopeless.
Now I know that PCOS has tons of symptoms, but they all stem from hormone imbalances. All those physical and emotional changes I saw in my wife were all out of her control. It was a physical problem, not an attitude problem. Remember, your spouse is not crazy – these are just the effects of PCOS. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, things will get much better.
2) Nodding off while she talked wasn’t helpful.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have been more encouraging in her search for answers and done my own research. I admit that I often zoned out when she talked about a new research study she found or herb she wanted to try. I just wanted to skip to the “all better” part. Don’t do what I did. Encourage your wife to keep looking for answers and trying new solutions. Every woman is different. Doctors don’t always have the answers, and some doctors certainly know more than others. Knowledge is power, so keep asking questions and helping her look for answers. If you haven’t already, download the free PCOS 101 Guide; it explains everything.
3) I love my wife more than beer and cheese.
It took Amy years to find the answers to feeling better with PCOS (which is why she started PCOS Diva – read more on that here), and this included changing the diet and lifestyle of everyone in the family. Changing a family diet is difficult – truly. I did selfishly think, “Why do I need to change my diet and lifestyle? I don’t have PCOS. Why can’t it just be her?” You must understand; I love beer and cheese. If I could live on beer and cheese alone, I would. Completely changing our diets was difficult, but I knew I had to do this with her. Watching her eat a salad and saying, “good job honey,” while I threw down another slice of pizza wasn’t going to cut it. I did not want to change our diet and lifestyle, but I am glad I did. I encourage you to do the same. If you want your wife back, it might be your only option.
So, whole milk is now coconut milk, cereal for breakfast is now a smoothie, salads have replaced sandwiches, and soda is now tea. It was tough to make these changes, and it did take some time, but I encourage you to go “all in.” Today, I will still have a gluten-free beer (or two) when I go out with the guys, but at home I drink mineral water. Truth is – I feel great! I have never been healthier or felt better. I will admit that I do still miss my beloved cheese sometimes, but it’s much better to have my wife feeling well (and myself too), than having cheese and beer. Today, the five (yes, five!) of us are happy, healthy and active. I guess I can thank PCOS and the lifestyle changes it brought for that.
4) My wife is a total Diva, and I am thrilled.
As for self-care, this is critical. Amy, like so many women, was always working and taking care of the family, and left little time for herself. In the past, I would buy her a gift certificate to a spa, and it would sit there, unused. I would almost have to force her to take the time to take care of herself. Now, she knows that she has to make time- for everyone’s sake. It’s certainly not always easy to manage three kids while she goes out to the spa or takes time to meditate, but I realize now how important it is for her to take this time. Remember: if she’s happy and feels valued, those around her are happier too- double benefit!
Be sure to take care of yourself as well. As guys, this may come a little more naturally, but be sure you take time to do something that you love to do. For me, half an hour shooting hoops is as good as a morning at the spa for Amy. Don’t get lost in the process of trying to conceive or the stress of everyday life; trust me, you need the time too.
5) There is hope.
Today, Amy takes such great care of herself (diet, exercise, and self-care), that the doctors say that she would not be diagnosed with PCOS if she walked into their office tomorrow. I was a witness of this transformation of my wife from a tired, apathetic woman to the positive, passionate, go-getter she is today, and I feel very blessed to have been a part of this transformation. If you would have told me that she would be this way 10 years ago, I would not have believed you. I feel like I got my wife back. She is an inspiration to everyone around us, and is extremely driven to help other women with PCOS. I truly believe, if Amy can make this transformation, so can your loved one – with your support.
I hope my perspective is helpful to you. The real take away is this: make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary, and stick to it! There are times where one of you will want to give in (and often will), but one of you must be strong to keep it going. It’s part of the partnership. Be supportive, understanding, and join her in this journey – I promise you will not regret it…I certainly don’t.
Cliff is the husband of Amy Medling (founder of PCOS Diva) for 19 years. They have three children together and live in New Hampshire.