midlife crisis Aug 13, 2019
For every 10 men I coach who are going through a midlife crisis, there are around 9 woman that are trying to figure out how to put up with him going through it, and so working out how to survive it for themselves. Not surprisingly, those wives often contact me for help. Due to confidentiality, I am limited in what I can say regarding their husbands when they ask me this question:
The reality is that a husband with a midlife crisis can be extremely difficult to live with, but I can provide them with some simple guidelines to help them cope with their husband's midlife crisis symptoms and guide them how to best support their husbands.
Note, if you are looking for guidelines on what to expect from midlife crisis symptoms, then you can find that here.
But if you are looking at either how you can help your husband through his midlife crisis or how to survive your husband's midlife crisis, then read on.
First, a disclaimer. This advice applies to partners of husbands who have not yet done terrible damage to you in some way - either through an affair, or intimidation or force or some other serious action. If your husband has been a danger to you or your children, then please seek the assistance of police and welfare services immediately.
These guidelines are general advice, and as everyone and every situation is different, they don't always apply. But in my experience as a coach of midlife men, this advice has been the most effective in assisting the woman who have a husband in a midlife crisis.
First, be patient. I get it. You probably already have been, and wonder how long for, but patience is a key requirement if you want to both get through this crisis with minimal damage.
Be aware that your husband has not chosen to have a midlife crisis. It is confusing for him too, and a patient wife will be something he will be exceptionally grateful for when he comes out the other side.
If you are struggling with patience, look at ways you can take a break and recharge.
Can you get away with a good friend for a while?
Can you find a fun thing to do that will help you come back with a recharge in your patience tank?
Patience is worth the investment.
Your husband's brain is in a muddle, and he won't be able to handle as many complex things at once as he normally can. Complexity is an extra weight he doesn't want. So don't make your relationship with him more complicated than it has to be.
Keep it simple. Communicate in simple terms so that you don't make your marriage/relationship part of the problem. That means take some pressure off him explaining himself. Don't be petty when he can't explain himself properly, don't take offense easily, don't take everything literally, or over think what he says and does. Certainly don't take the things he says, does or does not say personally. Do listen, aim to understand and give him space to understand himself and his thoughts until he can explain them to you.
You are not the problem, but many wives inadvertently make themselves part of the problem by thinking that they are.
Sometimes woman ask - why does my husband blame me for his midlife crisis?
In part, it is because you may have added your marriage to the issues he is trying to unpack. For most of my clients, their marriage does need work, but it isn't usually at the root of his midlife crisis.
Patricia Wettig's character Barbara Robbins in City Slickers (1991) did a very wise thing in that movie by encouraging her husband - Mitch Robins (Billy Crystal) to go away on an adventure to 'find himself.'
You can watch the clip (2nd of 2) here:
You might not send your husband off on a cattle drive, but you can encourage your husband to get away from work and do some things that bring a smile to his face and laughter into his life.
This can be by himself, with friends or with you.
A life without fun is heading for trouble, and in a midlife crisis the trouble will be multiplied.
The point is - he and you both need fun in your life. Through fun you can quickly rediscover the things you have forgotten and what you appreciate about your life.
A husband's midlife crisis is a time of change - transformation.
That change can't be stopped, nor forced by you. Pressure and unwanted prodding by you will not help.
Don't focus on his change, but use this time to think about yourself and what about yourself you would like to change.
How can you do this?
When I coach men, it will almost always include assessments and exercises that help them to discover (or re-discover) their core values, their personality tendencies and their 10 biggest strengths. It is super helpful when wives ALSO do some of these exercises - especially the values discovery program I call Core Value Compass.
When a man goes through a midlife crisis, he goes on a transformational journey. If you aren't increasing your own self awareness, you may find the two of your growing apart.
Sometimes this is unavoidable, but often you both can change and build a stronger relationship through midlife than you had before.
I even had a guest on my podcast whose marriage not just survived an affair, but was stronger after the hard work was done working through the damage.
It is not an easy experience to watch your partner go through the turmoil of a midlife crisis.
In some ways, I liken it to watching my wife give birth (which she did 11 times!).
It was painful, it seemed like it would never end, and there was almost nothing I could do to help except support her and take her abuse for getting her into it!
Most of the time, the births were successful. But a couple of times the outcome was not what we had dreamed.
The same is true with supporting your husband or wife through a midlife crisis (transformation). Most times a supportive partner will see a positive result, but sadly this isn't always true.
My encouragement is to reach out for support. Family, friends, a coach. Not only will a midlife crisis be shortened by years if the person in crisis does, but you will also be much more capable of coming through your support role stronger and healthier as well.
If you'd like to find out more about how a life coach can help you survive your husbands midlife crisis, then schedule a free 30 minute call with me and I'd be happy to answer your questions.
Guy Mullon CPLC, CIV, B.sc.(Hons) was a 20 year veteran of power markets and energy derivatives trading. After the dust cleared on a career-ended catastrophe, he discovered he had an opportunity to reinvent his career and family life. Today, he is a certified life & business coach specializing in helping midlifers redesign their work, family and personal life away from what they've been living into what they really want to be and live for the next 20 years.
Contact Guy for a free 'virtual coffee' to discuss the changes you want to make in your life, career or business.
You can also find Guy's contributions in written and podcast forms at realmen247.org