How to Deal With a Woman on Her Period (or “Buwanang Dalaw” in Tagalog)

It has been said (and a book has been written about it) that women are from Venus while men are from Mars…..or viceversa, I’ve got to check that book out…

I am still in the process of figuring out where Filipino women come from, as they come from a culture that is characterized by high levels of emotionalism.

But, apart from the particular culture my wife is from, it is an actual (as well as cross-cultural) fact that (as it has been said many times and in many ways) men and women have a different emotional makeup.

An interesting passage from the New Testament says that men should treat women as a “weaker vessel” and take into account the big emotional chasm that separates a man from a woman.

And, sure enough, although before embarking on my relationship I had an idea that this is the case, shortly after getting married, I found out that, knowing it in theory counts for very little when you actually experience it.

I used to be at the mercy of my wife’s strong emotions and, more often than not, I would view the menstruation period, and the above average strong emotions that characterize this period, as personal attacks.

The idea of treating a woman as a “weaker vessel”, figuratively speaking (Filipino women are actually not weak at all when it comes to who takes the lead in the family and often tend to henpeck their men but, like all women, they have a different emotional makeup nonetheless), had only resonated with me intellectually, but I hadn’t learned how to avoid being at the mercy of her emotions, especially during the buwanang dalaw (the Tagalog expression for a woman on her period).

The way many Filipinos deal with emotionally charged women is quite interesting: in many Filipino couples the wife is the one who has higher education and a decent job and, as a result, a lot of men easily get henpecked or, as Filipinos say under the saya and, sure enough, when the woman who is already the utak ng pamilya (the “brain” of the family, as opposed to the ulo or “head” ng pamilya) goes through the menstruation cycle the only refuge for her macho-machunurin (a Tagalog expression basically meaning “henpecked macho”, a macho who is only such when drinking, gambling or driving but, in the privacy of his home becomes the housewife or the tigasaing, tigalaba, tigasalok ng tubig) is gin or other hard drinks.

A lot of Filipinos have a strong tendency toward escaping from emotionally challenging situations by drowning themselves in alcohol or other forms of easy distraction.

Although my wife’s high irritability used to startle me and make me feel at a loss of where to turn, I knew that if I wanted to make my relationship grow and thrive I had to really learn how to deal with these volatile situations in a manly and mature manner.

What I have personally learned to do in these situations is:

  • First of all I stare every single day at the expression “weaker (not “wicked”) vessel” and I keep reminding myself every single day, even when buwanang dalaw is not there and everything is peachy, that the strong emotions that characterize a woman on her period are normal and part and parcel of the feminine nature.

I have also learned (or more realistically, I am in the process of learning) how to apply a concept that I heard from the famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn, namely the idea of “turning frustration into fascination” so, instead of feeling helpless when the buwanang dalaw comes and my woman is on her period, I try to get curious instead of frustrated and I try to look for ways to learn more about how this “weaker vessel” stuff works.

  • In order to bulletproof my emotions and set myself up for not being at the mercy of emotionally charged situations (not just in my marriage but in every situation), I start out my days with a little morning routine where I work out a little bit, I read some spiritually and emotionally uplifting material (mostly material that deals with how to have a successful marriage) and write my impressions in a journal for a few minutes, instead of checking my Facebook notifications or reading the news. I have been doing a little morning routine that consists in reading uplifting material for few minutes before going to work for decades but only recently have I started to study the science behind the effectiveness of a morning routine and I have subsequently improved what I was already doing (right now I am in the process of reading “The 5 am Club” by Robin Sharma that contains amazing insights about how and why start out the day with a set of uplifting habits instead of reading the news or checking my phone).
  • Another powerful idea that I am trying hard to internalize and master (although it is extremely tricky and counterintuitive) is the idea of “conquering evil with good” or, in more modern English, treating with great kindness someone who is treating me lousy, and I have actually made a list in my journal of specific acts of kindness I can do next time buwanang dalaw strikes and she is on her period, and it (usually) tends to work, it is no accident that this stuff is called “wisdom from above”.
  • Giving my wife space is also very important and, sometimes, being around a woman who has buwanang dalaw and try to engage her in a conversation at all cost can be counterproductive. So, I either visit my mother, who by the way needs my presence as she can’t walk, or I go to a nerby lake or go read something.

This is more or less what I have to say and my personal insights about how to deal with a woman in her period or buwanang dalaw.

I hope it helps….

I have an article in Tagalog as well on this topic (I deleted the previous ones because they were a little bulol).

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