If your spouse is going through a midlife crisis, is having an affair, or has asked for a divorce, more than likely you are feeling out of control. You are unsure how to respond and react to your spouse’s midlife crisis or what to do next in your life.
It is essential for you to know that nothing you do or say will help your spouse snap out of it or become the loving partner you once knew. There are things you can do and say that will help you navigate the choppy waters of your spouse’s midlife crisis, though—things that will mean you maintaining your equilibrium and living fully in spite of their crisis.
When a spouse goes into midlife crisis, you must face some painful truths. The odds are against you saving your relationship with your spouse. That doesn’t mean you have to give up hope. People beat the odds daily! What it does mean is that the life you choose to live at this time of crisis should be one you enjoy and wish to continue, whether your marriage survives or not. Here are four suggestions to help you react:
1. Make Changes
Make changes that you feel will make you a better person. If you have issues that need to be worked on, work on those issues. Don’t get stuck focusing on your spouse’s issues and trying to figure out ways to help him/her deal with those issues. Expend energy in a place you know you will get a return on the energy expended: on yourself.
Paul and his wife Sandy had been married 23 years when Sandy’s midlife crisis began. Paul, being a smart guy, realized that there were problems in the marriage that Sandy had been unhappy with for years. He had ignored her “nagging” because he felt Sandy was over-reacting to what he saw as minor problems in the marriage.
Paul went to work at changing personal issues he had and once Sandy saw those changes, she found it hard to stay away from Paul. She felt drawn to him instead of feeling the need to withdraw from him. Because of the changes, Paul restored his marriage to Sandy.
The good news is, even if your marriage doesn't survive your spouse's midlife crisis, you will have made changes in yourself that will help you in your daily life and any future relationship.
2. Get A Life
Find things that you want to do with your life. Your motivation is not to get your spouse to notice that you are getting a life but for you to actually get a life that is not dependent on your relationship with your spouse. Take up a hobby, join a gym, take that vacation you’ve wanted to take for years.
When Lucy’s husband began his midlife crisis, she dealt with the problem directly and started doing all the things she had not had an opportunity to do because her husband wouldn’t join her. She took a long desired vacation in London. She joined a hiking club and traveled with her club all over the country, hiking interesting trails. She left him to deal with his problems and she got on with the business of living.
Lucy is now divorced but she isn’t sitting home feeling sorry for herself or bitter at her ex for ruining her life. She is out getting all she can out of life because Lucy realizes that the only life she has any control over is her own and she is determined to make it a good life.
3. Practice Acceptance
Change isn’t easy, especially when that change means the loss of the relationship with your spouse. Fighting the changes in your relationship is what will keep you stuck and unable to move forward with your life. Surviving your spouse’s midlife crisis means working with what you have, not continually pondering what you might be able to do to bring him/her back to the marriage.
If you don’t acknowledge the reality of what is happening in your marriage due to his/her midlife crisis it is highly unlikely that you will improve your life circumstances. To live a happy, fulfilling life you must accept what is happening with your spouse and in your marriage. You must steadfastly refuse to allow your spouse’s midlife crisis to define how you live your life and what you get out of life now and in the future. Acceptance isn’t easy but the sooner you get to a place of acceptance, the sooner you will overcome the loss of the spouse you knew and grow stronger in your own life.
4. Be Patient
Practice patience with both yourself and your spouse. You are both going through changes and as hard as what you are experiencing, he/she is experiencing a high level of emotional pain also. You won’t make the changes you need to make over-night and your spouse won’t work his/her way through their crisis on your timeline.
Don’t beat yourself up for backsliding or moving forward as quickly as you feel you should. Time is your friend, so be willing for time to pass: time that you can use to build a better life and become a better person. When your spouse does something crazy or frustrating, try to remember that they are experiencing confusing and frustrating emotions just as you are. In the end, you will both end up where you need to be. Don’t become impatient and try to rush the process.