Dear Abby

Men Gain Empathy in a 'Flash' for Their Menopausal Spouses

DEAR ABBY: You asked female readers if we have anything to add to your advice to "Hot Flash Hilda" (Dec. 16), whose husband says she's "mean" and "freaky" because she doesn't want to snuggle when she's having a hot flash. I have had 18 years of menopause. I told my older son once that menopause constitutes justifiable homicide, and he'd better tread carefully.

Hilda should tell her husband that hot flashes are like claustrophobia. You're heating up from the inside out and have no way to escape. There are times when my skin actually hurts. Maybe if she uses "justifiable homicide" it will get through to him. -- LINDA IN MESA, ARIZ.

DEAR LINDA: When I printed the question from "Hilda," I had no idea that menopause was such a hot topic and that I'd not only receive responses from women, but also from male readers. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My wife has also been dealing with hot flashes. Her comments to me fell on deaf ears until my doctor prescribed a niacin-based drug for triglyceride issues. He failed to advise me to take an aspirin shortly before taking the niacin. When I took the niacin for the first time, I had an instant understanding of what hot flashes were and what my wife had been subjected to for several years. -- GETS IT NOW IN GEORGIA

DEAR ABBY: My husband also didn't understand my need for distance during a hot flash. So I took him to a spa for a day of couples pampering and suggested he get into the sauna to relax.

When he was good and hot, I joined him and suggested we "snuggle." He exclaimed, "But I'm all hot and sweaty!" I smiled and said, "You're having a hot flash." That's when he finally got it.

Now he not only gives me space during a hot flash, but offers me a cool drink of water or a chilled cloth to put on my neck for the duration of the "heat wave." -- DIANE IN SUSANVILLE, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: Thank you for that reply! Men need to try and understand what women feel during a hot flash. A 450-degree oven about sums it up. I bought books on the subject for my husband, but have yet to give them to him. I most certainly will now. -- MICHELE IN WURTSBORO, N.Y.

DEAR MICHELE: Another way to educate a clueless spouse is for both of them to consult the wife's gynecologist or their primary physician to discuss what the hormone changes may be doing to her body and psyche.

DEAR ABBY: When my hubby and I first married, he was always the warm one; I was always freezing. At night he'd snuggle me in bed until I was comfortable.

Years later, he was diagnosed with cancer. Radiation therapy caused his body temperature to drop while I, coincidentally, was going through menopause. Now I would wrap my legs around his, snuggling him until we were both comfortable.

One night, while we were all entangled, he exclaimed, "Oh, my God, we've turned into each other!" He's been gone 10 years now, and what I'd give for one more snuggle. -- BONNIE IN GREENFIELD, WIS.

DEAR ABBY: My partner and I are both going through menopause. Try having two women having hot flashes at the same time -- the sheets nearly burst into flames. Hilda should be grateful she's not going through WOMENopause. -- VICKIE IN TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: On a recent trip to Rome, my husband generously sprinkled fresh peppers in his food (while the waiter shook his head). Heat seared through his body. His eyes were glassy, sweat beaded on his forehead and he gulped the whole carafe of water. I looked at him and said, "Welcome to MY world." -- ANITA IN ORANGE CITY, IOWA

More like Dear Abby