Has it just dawned on you that your spouse may be having a midlife crisis?
You may be wondering if a midlife crisis is even a real thing? I heard once that it’s just a cliche, or a myth that’s been popularized by angry partners.
Certainly the term “midlife crisis” isn’t a medical diagnosis. However, I’ve seen plenty of real life evidence in my 20+ years of doing marriage therapy to understand that many adults go through a midlife crisis.
The funny thing (well maybe it’s not really that funny) is that the person going through a midlife crisis may not even feel like they’re in a crisis. In fact, they could be having more fun than they’ve had in a long time. It’s their spouse that experiences more of the feelings of crisis: frustration, insecurity, overwhelm, fear, and like things aren’t as they should be.
What is a midlife crisis anyway? Psychologist Carl Jung first identified that people go through predictable emotional transitions between the ages of 40 and 60. But for some, a midlife crisis is more complicated. It can cause emotional distress and even depression.
A midlife crisis is often caused by a new awareness of aging in combination with a recent problem, loss, or regret. For example a career setback, the death or illness of a parent, marital problems, or physical changes can spark stress that leads to a midlife crisis.
In her article, What Are the Causes of a Midlife Crisis?, Cathy Meyer explains that those who go into a midlife crisis might experience:
- Unhappiness with life and the lifestyle that may have provided them with happiness for many years.
- Boredom with people and things that may have been of interest to them before.
- Feeling a need for adventure and change.
- Questioning the choices they have made in their lives and the validity of decisions they made years before.
- Confusion about who they are and where they are going.
- Anger at their spouse and blame for feeling tied down.
- Unable to make decisions about where they want to go with their life.
- Doubt that they ever loved their spouse and resentment over the marriage.
- A desire for a new and passionate, intimate relationship.
As you can see a midlife crisis can provoke a marriage crisis that threatens the foundation of your relationship and therefore your entire sense of security.
Can you relate? Are you feeling threatened by your partners recent mid-life behavior changes?
If so, it can be challenging to stay aware of the fact that these changes in your spouse were probably brought on by distress or even depression. Especially if your beloved is acting in ways that are threatening. Is your spouse doing things that are out of character? Such as: spending money on things without your input, suddenly caring about their appearance, wanting to spend time alone, or having an affair.
Is it possible to save your marriage during a midlife crisis? Absolutely! The key is to be willing to do some things that seem counterintuitive. Here are:
5 tips for how to save your marriage during a midlife crisis:
1. Don’t Label It A Midlife Crisis
Whatever you do, don’t tell your spouse that they’re in the middle of a midlife crisis. That will just make them mad. It won’t help. And don’t throw them under the bus by telling your family and friends that your partner is having a midlife crisis, either. It’s still very important to have your spouse’s back.
2. Get Curious
Stop pointing out all the upsetting things that your spouse is doing. Instead ask them to tell you what’s going on in their head. And really listen. Then ask more questions out of curiosity. Listen in a way that shown them you get it. That you understand.
3. Stop Acting Needy
Yes, give your partner some space. Sop the constant texts or calls. Quit asking for an accounting of how every minute of their day was spent. Instead, take your focus off your spouse. Start taking better care of yourself. Take time to do things on your own or with friends.
4. Embrace Some Of The Sudden Changes Your Spouse Has Made
Go for rides in that new convertible. Give your partner a gift that is in keeping with their new clothes style. Play their favorite new music on Pandora. Show some excitement about their new hobby.
5. If You Suspect Infidelity, Confront Your Spouse
You don’t have to put up with unacceptable behavior. If you think your partner is having an affair, ask. And remember that an affair doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your marriage. However, an ongoing affair causes huge destruction the longer it goes on. You have the right to insist that your spouse stops the cheating, and get’s into reparative marriage counseling with you.
If you’re feeling like these 5 tips for how to save your marriage during a midlife crisis are not enough for your situation, I completely understand. You don’t have to struggle with your marriage crisis alone. Find a seasoned couples counselor to work with.