Future-proof your relationship with Mairead Molloy

Journalist and content writer Julia Sidwell talks to relationship consultant and strategist Mairéad Molloy on how to identify if menopause is affecting your relationship, and how we can repair and heal them with love, understanding and compassion.


As the years pass and we become wiser, we may imagine a smoother journey with our partners, but a shift in our hormone levels can cause havoc. According to The British Menopause Society, menopausal symptoms cause a significant impact on relationships. Research shows over 60% of divorces in the UK are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, when women are most likely going through perimenopause, menopause, or are post-menopausal.

Relationship psychologist Mairéad Molloy regularly speaks to women living through perimenopause and menopause, and witnesses first-hand the effect on relationships. She says the symptoms can be a struggle to deal with even on the best of days, so combined with regular relationship troubles, they are likely to affect even the strongest of couples.

She says: “Some male partners think the menopause is all hot flushes and a fading libido, but there is so much more. Women can suffer with psychological and physical issues, such as low mood, tiredness, anxiety, poor memory and concentration, vaginal dryness and itching, and pain during and after sex. Some or all of these are bound to put any relationship to the test.”

TV personality Lisa Snowdon has opened up a lot about the early menopause and is now writing a book about it and its effect on love and life. Despite rekindling her romance with George Smart, she has admitted perimenopause has made their relationship challenging.

She said: “Some days I’d be happy then the next day I’d turn into the devil. We’d be having a great night out then all of a sudden, I would just flip. It was the hormones, combined with perhaps that third glass of wine… I know that the menopause can cause relationships to break down but I’m lucky that George came into my life at that time. For me, it was a godsend. For him, it was challenging.”

Understanding and communication

Many partners do not understand the menopause and its symptoms fully, but with today’s increased information, it’s even easier to learn about it.

Mairead says: “The physical symptoms can cause problems in a relationship due to the lack of understanding, which can lead to strained communication and sadly, in some cases, the breakdown of a relationship.

“Before attempting to talk to your partner about the menopause, educate yourself by talking to your GP or a menopause doctor, reading about the side-effects and how they might make you feel. Just gaining this knowledge about your own body will help to ease any stress and prove useful when talking to your partner.”

In her work, Mairead hears a lot of blame placed on ‘raging hormones’. She says: “This is frustrating behaviour and comes from a lack of education and awareness. A male partner may not understand what his wife or girlfriend is going through, and his response might be to feel frightened or back off at a time when she needs support.

“With frequent fatigue likely, along with teariness or frustration, the partner must understand why this behaviour has changed in order for a relationship to retain balance. If you don’t communicate during this difficult time, it can create resentment. Try and find a good time for you both to sit down and talk about your symptoms and how they are changing your day-to-day life. It can be difficult or embarrassing to talk this through, but your relationship will reap the rewards. It may be helpful to write down what you want to say so you don’t overlook any important points.

“Remember to emphasise you need support. Tell your partner that you’re both on the same team. Listening, engagement and mutual respect will nourish a healthy, loving relationship that can last.”


The menopausal transition affects each woman uniquely and in various ways. The body begins to use energy differently, and fat cells change, meaning you may gain weight more easily. Along with a different body shape, you may experience changes in your bone or heart health or your physical function. There is also a drop in the amount of oxytocin in the body. These symptoms are likely to reduce intimacy and in turn, cause a loss of a sexual connection.

Mairead says: “A decreased libido is a common problem for couples and both parties will be affected in different ways. It can result in resentment and build up sexual frustrations that unfortunately can sometimes result in an affair. You may also feel that your partner no longer finds you attractive due to physical changes and diminished self-esteem.”

A reduction in oestrogen during menopause can lead to vaginal dryness, which can affect both sexual desire and arousal. Sex may also become painful. HRT can help to rebalance hormone levels and as well as aid other physiological and some psychological changes.

“When it comes to your partner, be vocal about your feelings on the subject,” says Mairead. “Be clear that a lack of arousal doesn’t mean you no longer love them, but that things need to adjust. Again, communication really is key here. If you don’t talk openly, the challenges posed by vaginal dryness for example might be misinterpreted as a loss of interest in sex, which might lead her partner to feel rejected.

“Good communication allows couples to identify and address the real issue. Take more time to get in the mood and take the opportunity to learn more about each other’s bodies and your new likes and dislikes. Try not to be judgmental of one another and work together to form a new routine for you both.”

Mairead’s key points

  • An honest exchange of feelings, needs and preferences within a relationship is the best way to avoid disappointment and find mutual solutions, therefore nipping resentments in the bud.
  • The goal of effective communication skills should be mutual understanding and finding a solution that pleases both parties, not ‘winning’ the argument or ‘being right.’
  • Sometimes it helps to hold hands or stay physically connected with your partner as you talk. This can remind you both that you still care about each other. It’s important to remain respectful of the other person, even if you don’t like their actions.
  • Every couple is different, and every woman’s menopause is different, so take it slowly and discover what works for your relationship. Try not to make assumptions about what the other is experiencing.


For more stories, advice and interviews, head to the Menopause Your Way Stories hub. To browse and shop a curated edit of menopause products, visit the Menopause Your Way page on QVC.

The content of the QVC website is for information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the QVC website.

We understand there’s a lot of information out there on the menopause. You can read through the NICE guidance on menopause management, as well as the NHS overview on the menopause.