“How Can I Keep From Becoming a Monthly Tiger?”

Dr. Jay E. Adams, Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, provides a regular column or page for THE OUTLOOK on From a Counselors Desk.

In addition to his teaching at Westminster and authoring several books, Dr. Adams serves as a Counselor at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation at Hatboro, Pennsylvania.

If you are having problems controlling moods and behavior during your menstrual periods, the following information may be of help.

You do not have to become a tiger around the house once a month. Only in rare cases does menstruation directly cause such radical behavior change that one may be relieved of her responsibility. (If you think that your case is one of these exceptions after you have read this paper, consult your physician; he can be of help.) In most instances the monthly discomfort can do no more than present you with an occasion for sin. It may become a stumbling block in your pathway, but you are responsible if you stumble. There are ways to walk around it, and God holds you accountable for doing so. You must not allow menstruation to become an excuse for becoming hostile. bitter, nasty, depressed. etc. The Bible is clear that the fatigue, the weakness. or the pain that may be experienced is no excuse for failing to exercise self-control, for allowing yourself to get behind in your chores (which leads to depression), for sulking (in selfpity) or for engaging in spiteful behavior or temper tantrums. While it is harder to control your attitudes and your behavior during menstruation (as it is for instance during the physical discomfort of a headache, severe cold or even a painful injury), God holds you responsible to do so. You need not, indeed must not let down the bars.

If over the years you have developed sinful patterns of losing control, these patterns will have to be changed. God‘s grace is sufficient to enable you to overcome them if you are a Christian (if you are not, your counselor will be happy to discuss the way of salvation with you). Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12;9). Paul echoed the truth of these words when he said that he found that in any situation in life he “could do all things [i.e., all that Christ required of him] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It is not necessary to allow sinful impulses regularly to have free reign thirteen times each year. The fruit of the Spirit is “self control” (Galatians 5:23), for which (as a Christian woman) you must pray and properly structure your life. You truly can avoid “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor” (Ephesians 4:31) and “abusive speech” (Colossians 3:8) during this time. No exceptions, either for sickness, suffering, or for menstrual discomfort, are made in the verse. “In the same way” that Christ “endured” suffering, Peter says that a wife must remain “submissive” and maintain a “gentle and quiet spirit” (cf. I Peter 3: 1, 4 and I Peter 2:20–23; the words “in the same way” refer back to Christ’s behavior). If wives are expected to do so during persecution, they can see plainly how this applies also to lesser discomforts like menstruation. There is responsibility and there is hope in this expectation.

Here are ten guidelines that may help you to endure your monthly trial. You may:

1. keep a record ahead on your calendar and become aware of the days each month when you are likely to face discomfort;

2. prepare for these by prayer as they approach;

3. follow a low-salt diet for about a week before menstruation to eliminate the bloating caused by excess water1

4. plan to take on no unnecessary stress situations during the three days preceding menstruation. For instance, this is not the time to have dinner guests or a special party for little Johnny. While all stress cannot be eliminated during this period, it is possible to schedule those stressful events which are movable around the time;

5. let your husband know when the onset of menstruation has arrived so that he can take this into account;

6. refrain from making any crucial commitments or decisions during this time, since they are likely to be highly colored by it (postponement is almost always possible in such cases);

7. follow responsibilities ( before God and man), not feelings (i.e., no matter how you feel, do what you know God wants you to do; even if you do not feel like doing it);

8. do not allow yourself to get behind in daily chores;

9. avoid brooding over problems in self-pity sessions and refuse to attend any pity parties held over coffee or over the phone by neighborhood cronies;

10. make a list of special small acts of love and kindness toward your husband and family which you can do during this time (the list may he consulted as menstruation approaches).

1. If this does not help, a physician can prescribe a mild diuretic (water tablet) that may cause a significant change.