Dealing With a Spouse's Midlife Crisis

A midlife crisis seems funny in the movies and on television, but it can cause serious marital strife, especially since you might wind up feeling like a parent instead of a spouse. However, a midlife crisis doesn't mean the end of your marriage. If you are there for your partner and do your best to be patient and to communicate, the two of you can make it through this difficult time unscathed.

Understanding a Midlife Crisis
A midlife crisis goes deeper than your spouse buying a new outfit or trying to relive his or her youth. A midlife crisis can be a form of depression, and it's important to take the time to understand the events that lead to this state.

When it comes to a midlife crisis, a person generally feels as if they have little time left on this earth and as if they have to make up for lost time. A spouse with depression, combined with a midlife crisis, may change careers, work out more or start evaluating their whole life.

Signs of a midlife crisis include major changes in dress, action and communication. Your spouse will be evaluating all aspects of their lives, and you might wonder who they have become. If you see this for what it is-a fear of aging/life/routine-you can help a spouse overcome this crisis, and you can strengthen the bond between the two of you.

The good news is that midlife crises are common. Ask friends and family members if they or someone they know have gone through this, and, if so, how they handled it.

Be Supportive
Talk about the good things not only in your spouse's life but also in the future. If you show your loved one that their life is full, they may realize that they don't have to cling to the past because there's so much to enjoy right now. Explain that, no matter how they feel, they are loved for who they are right this minute. Emphasizing the positives will build your spouse's self-esteem.

If your spouse takes on a new hobby as a means of avoiding aging or life, don't run from it or pretend it's not happening: Join them. A person in a midlife crisis wants to feel young again, and, if you can support any of his or her new interests, you can help your spouse regain their confidence. There's nothing wrong with taking up motorcycle-riding in middle age.

Also take an interest in what your spouse is doing. Ask them how they are feeling about life and their new hobbies. It may even help to make a list of things to try with your spouse; this will show them that you are supportive of their choices and that you will be there for them no matter what.

Even if you disagree with some of your spouse's choices, it's important to keep up the positivity. Your spouse probably won't respond well to negativity or criticism because of their midlife crisis blues. Be aware of this when you talk; otherwise they might start viewing you as a critical parent figure.

Consider Outside Help
You don't have to deal with a spouse's midlife crisis alone. Think about seeking outside help through friends and family members. For example, if you think your spouse is turning to destructive crutches during their crisis, ask friends and family members talk to them. This way, you aren't dealing with the issue alone, and your spouse may realize you aren't picking on them.

If the midlife crisis is negatively affecting your marriage, counseling could help the two of you talk about how you're feeling and help you get back on track. Before heading to the counselor, ask about the help you need: Do you need help communicating or do the two of you need a neutral space in which to talk?

Be Open to Change
A midlife crisis doesn't have to be a negative thing. In fact, during this time, your spouse could discover a new passion and might even change careers. Try to see the changes in your spouse's behavior as opportunities. For example, you might start working out or traveling together. If you support changes to your routine as a couple and are open to your spouse's changes, the two of you can only strengthen your marriage. Think about it: nothing says love more than a spouse supporting new adventures rather than criticizing them.

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