For those who have just found themselves in this situation, not all midlife marriage problems are due to “mid-life crisis”, but midlife can be a stressful time for marriages.

It is hard in the beginning to figure out what is really going on, since the midlife crisis person often blames others for what they are feeling. A good first step is to try to figure out as best you can what is going on with your spouse. It may be midlife crisis related, then again, it may not.

If it IS a midlife crisis, it is a life transition which, though it can take awhile, is sometimes temporary. If you try to ride this out and continue on in the marriage (which may or may not be possible, depending on what is going on with your spouse) that is a choice that is up to you, you will need:

  • a little humor
  • a re-focusing on yourself, what you want out life, what makes you happy
  • support
  • prayer, if you are so inclined

It truly helps to read everything you can on midlife crisis. I can’t stress this enough. The Midlife books by the Conway’s are comforting, “His Midlife Crisis” by Jim Conway and “Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis” by Sally Conway. Read this book, then read it again… (these can be ordered from the Conway’s website). “Love must be Tough” by Dobson and “Divorce Busters” were a few books that were helpful too.

This site lists a number of good midlife books as well. Whether this is a midlife crisis or not, learning more about yourself and your relationship and how to improve it, helps.

There are things that you can do that can perhaps affect the outcome of your spouse’s (and your own) mlc for the good. Take a good look at your marriage, what your spouse’s unmet needs are, and change the dynamic of the relationship if appropriate. Other than that, it can sometimes help to step back and give them space.

This is a trying time. and it can be a time of grief. For those who are in midlife crisis you may be grieving the loss of your youth.

For spouses who are being left, you may also be grieving the loss of the marriage or the loss of the spouse.

Suffering a loss of any kind, you may be feeling many strong emotions: shock, numbness, guilt, bargaining, denial, depression, anger. This is normal during a time like this, although it can be very disconcerting. It is healthy to move through these grief stages through to acceptance, and you may have many feelings all at the same time too. If you get stuck in any one stage for too long, it can be a good idea to seek help. Ultimately, you will heal and come out of this a stronger person.

It helps to talk to someone you can trust. Counseling is very helpful during this time too, for many. A good counselor may be able to give you some tools and tactics to help you have some power and control over your life during this upheaval, and may help you to deal more effectively with your spouse. While midlife crisis has many typical characteristics, each situation is unique.

Midlife crisis is not a free ticket to bad behaviour. Just because a person is going through a midlife crisis, it doesn’t mean that there are not consequences to their behaviour. There are.

For those dealing with a spouse in midlife crisis, it is most important to clarify your limits and boundaries during this time, as we may get pulled off our sense of centeredness by all that our mlc spouse is going through.

Most importantly, one can never lose by keeping one’s self respect and dignity through this.

Some good news. Somewhere (??) there are the statistics that 80% of marriages survive midlife crisis. If it is midlife crisis, it is likely a stage through which they will pass, sort of like adolescense. If it is not midlife crisis, that too will become clear in time.

I’m sure most of us would like to see our marriages survive this time and we want to save it. There are alot of good resources that are listed in this site, and elsewhere, to try to do that.

But the most important thing is to take care of yourself. Letting go can be very healthy, and, paradoxically, it can also sometimes be the one thing to save the marriage.

For those whose spouses are leaving them… it may take a little time and some realization to realize that you cannot change another person. You cannot stop them if they are determined to leave, and we have no choice but to let go.

Perhaps a new beginning is where this journey was meant to take you. It grieves me to see people hanging on to a dead marriage, letting other opportunities pass them by. Please do not do this to yourself.

I wanted to add that while you will be going through a storm of emotions during this time, it is very important to get a grip, and THINK.

For those whose spouse is going through midlife crisis, THINK about what is going on and what you are going to do. What is your strategy going to be, to deal with the midlife crisis? How are you going to act? Learn all you can about it. Counseling can help here.

Get legal counsel if necessary to protect yourself if you are in a pending separation or divorce situation. Your spouse does not need to know you are doing this, but become informed on the law so that you understand your options and can make informed decisions, if it comes to that. You can’t help but feel all the emotions, but then pull yourself together and focus. THINK.

For those who are in midlife crisis, you may be overwhelmed by emotions at this time in your life. Learn about midlife crisis. It is a normal life transition which you will recover from. There is a lot to learn here about yourself. Again, THINK. By this time in your life, you have a lot to lose by acting out of desperation.

Your emotions are not “calls to action”, they are just feelings. Explore those feelings to decipher what you are really afraid of; reading, counseling, talking to a wise friend, just knowing that others have gone through this too, and come out of it successfully, can help you to feel better. You always remain in control of your actions.

Finally, take care of yourself, and believe that, irregardless of the outcome, that everything will be all right.

This was posted on the Midlife Club forum in 2000 by forum member Camille. All rights reserved.