Men rarely talk about it whilst going through a difficult time. When they do, taunts like “just man up” might end up doing more harm. When your husband is having a midlife crisis, it’s possible he might start to shell up with the negative thoughts he has, which will one day blow up in his face, affecting both his career and his relationship with you.
It is often distressing for men to think they’ve reached life’s halfway stage and that time is “running out”. When their own expectations about being financially secure haven’t been met, it’s possible that a bout of mental health issues like depression might be on the horizon. In those cases, knowing what to do can make all the difference in your marriage and his health.
In this article, consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert, shares the story of Adam and Nancy. She also tells us how to deal with a midlife crisis husband who doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
What Is A Midlife Crisis?
To make sure there’s no confusion about what we’re discussing here today, let’s clear out the definition beforehand. A midlife crisis may happen to anyone, regardless of gender, and usually takes place around the age of 45 to 60. It’s the stage in a person’s life when thoughts of their mortality become a reality, shortcomings in relationships and careers are heightened, and a sense of purpose is lost.
Since this is a social construct, not everyone essentially goes through such a thing. It may be brought upon in the wake of a traumatic event or a decreased ability to find satisfaction in and gratitude for the things achieved by a person in their life.
Since such a crisis is set off by a realization of the aging process and thoughts of approaching mortality, drastic changes in a person’s life may ensue. They may succumb to depression or anxiously try to chase habits associated with youth like impulse purchases or impulse physical activities.
In its ugliest form, this stage of a person’s life may cause them to go through depression and other mental health issues. The male midlife crisis usually sees a heightened sense of dissatisfaction as the cause, which leads to immense feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem.
Now that we’re on the same page, figuring out what to do when your husband is going through a midlife crisis can be a little easier. However, first, let’s take a look at how Adam and Nancy’s lives were severely affected.
Husband’s Midlife Crisis Symptoms And Signs
Adam has always been extremely confident, a go-getter, and an achiever. But Nancy noted that it felt as though he had changed immensely. There is a doubt in everything he does. He thinks and sulks a lot more than he used to, and there is a complete change in his appetite for sex.
“These are the main symptoms that I have noticed in my husband’s midlife crisis,” says Nancy, when she figured out just what was going on. “At first, I assumed something must have happened at work. But one day, when his colleagues came around, they told me he was doing better than ever at work. Finally, I put two and two together when he started talking about his own mortality a lot more than he ever did before,” she adds.
Men’s midlife crisis can be a particularly difficult thing to deal with. Since they may end up assuming that talking about any feelings of inadequacy is an act of showing weakness, they may bottle it all up. Before this happens to your spouse, it’s important to recognize your husband’s midlife crisis symptoms. Let’s take a look at what happened with Adam.
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1. He feels inadequate while having sex
“Adam feels inadequate in most parts of his life, including his sex life. He needs constant assurance and I have not been able to help him as I am clueless about how to help,” says Nancy.
At times like this, maybe Adam’s ego has been bruised by his aging factor. He may not be able to identify the changes he is undergoing. Even if he did, he may not have the reasoning right. Nancy feels she cannot fathom his sexual behavior anymore. “Sometimes he is over-enthusiastic and sometimes he is not interested at all.”
2. My husband is bored to death
“My husband has started feeling bored at work. The man who was so industrious and enterprising ended up as a CEO very early in life through hard work. Now he says his work is no more exciting. He probably reached his career goals faster than he had planned to. He has no plans of starting on his own and thus, he has no verve for life now. The enthusiasm is dipping and he is only 50 years old,” says Nancy.
3. He constantly wants change
“He keeps saying he wants a change. We just moved to New Jersey from New York and have been here only for three years. He is ready for the next change. This attitude doesn’t seem like the old Adam I know. He will only move when he has done his best. I am sure there is much more he can do here. What I actually see is a downfall in his confidence level and to me, it feels like he is running away from something,” says Nancy.
What Adam is going through is a midlife crisis. Something that could be as invisible as depression and as visible as a cold. Men have this beckoning urge to change their lives and lifestyles. Men affected by it will wish to be more and do more as they realize they are no more in their prime. They can suffer a crisis of confidence that impacts their lives and careers. They begin to feel shaky in the workplace.
4. He is constantly looking in the mirror
“He has kicked the vanity up a notch recently and spends a considerable amount of time coloring his hair and hitting the gym. He keeps changing his shirts and combing his hair for a long time before going to the office. I feared he was having an affair.
“But that was only my insecurity. He just doesn’t feel attractive anymore. He keeps asking our teenage daughters if he looks young enough. That’s when I convinced myself that I needed to know how to help him cope with a midlife crisis,” Nancy adds.
5. He lives in the past
“He is overly nostalgic and reminisces about his college life and youth all the time. He opens old albums and listens to the music of his college days. He now rides the cycle to the market and watches all the movies from his college days. I find this a lot to handle,” she further explains.
6. He is over conscious of his health
“He is also getting overly conscious of his health. He gets a TMTs done more often than prescribed. He keeps his sugar level in check and does a BP check every week. The doctor has not prescribed any of these,” adds a concerned Nancy.
Your husband’s midlife crisis stages and signs may not seem similar to that of Adam, but it’s possible you could draw out a few parallels if you’re going through something similar. When you realize that what your spouse is going through isn’t just a case of the blues, figuring out how to deal with a midlife crisis husband then becomes pertinent. Let’s figure out how to do that.
Related Reading: Midlife Crisis For A Woman: What Is It? How To Deal With It?
How To Help Your Spouse Get Out Of A Midlife Crisis
Each person handles difficulties differently, but it typically involves a change in the way that they act and feel, and in their attitude toward life. A midlife crisis can happen at any time in life and can last for several years, but it is called so because usually it strikes in midlife.
Men look at their lives at this stage and think they could be happier. Sometimes they wish more, yet they find it difficult to spot what they further wish for. Some of them feel inadequate. It’s a middle-life transition which women largely handle as “empty nest syndrome.” Men usually take a mid-life assessment at this stage.
They review their career graph, their investment plans, family status, and individual growth. In actuality, it is merely a transition period in life and need not be seen as a crisis as the term suggests. The point is to have a strategy to make this transition smooth and relatable. Here’s how you can help your spouse deal with a midlife crisis.
1. To handle your husband’s midlife crisis, boost his ego
Give a boost to his ego by complimenting him on his looks and loving him physically. Even if he shows signs of change, you can still be an empathetic and understanding wife. Your stability is of prime importance, as it is equally easy for your spouse to get frustrated and irritated. If you keep calm and be patient, it will help in dealing with your husband’s midlife crisis.
2. See a health expert
A mid-life issue can be triggered by physical changes such as the development of health concerns. Aging is an inevitable reality. As one becomes old, the freedom to choose and reinvent oneself may seem to decrease, regrets may pile up, and one’s sense of invincibility and energy may also diminish. These are the emotional consequences of aging.
Get your spouse to talk to a professional who will tell him that he is going through a normal stage of development. The professional will be able to tell him about the midlife transition. Your spouse will also know that he is not alone in this, that most men have it. Importantly, denying age is not the solution. Talking will help a lot.
Related Reading: What Can You Do When Your Husband Says He Is Done With You?
3. Do a life audit
Help him do a life audit. If he is keen on making changes that are major in life, sit with him and help him figure out what is going well in life now and what is not. This will give him a picture of what he should change and what he should not.
Help him reframe his situation. He is reminiscing about the good old days because he has framed a rosy picture of those days by remembering only the good things that happened to him then and terming the present as the challenging days. Remind him of all the happiness he has created in his life so far. Help him focus on his future and do his best in the present towards a better future.
4. Focus on mental health
A man usually tries to get “quick fixes” as he comes face-to-face with his own mortality. It’s not easy for anyone to realize that we are all mortals and that it’s the beginning of the end. So we want to postpone aging and remain young as long as we can. But denial or superficial actions are also not the solutions because age will catch up.
Middle-life issues are not any illness but look out for anxiety or masked depression. If you see depressive tendencies, then you need to get him to fix an appointment with a psychiatrist. To help you get started with helping your husband who’s having a midlife crisis, Bonobology’s panel of experienced and well-renowned counselors is just a click away.
5. Approach changes in sexuality with openness
It is very important to accept the changes and address those. Open communication is key and if you can both take up meditation or some spiritual practices then energy healing does help a lot in keeping your mind and body in tandem. The good news is many people rediscover sexuality at this age and start enjoying sex and intimacy even more.
A midlife crisis is not a disease and it is more like a natural progression. It is not hard to deal with a midlife crisis but sometimes professional advice helps you to straighten out the issues better. When letting go of a midlife crisis husband is the last thought on your mind, do all you can to help him out.
Since every person deals with difficulties differently, there’s no real timeline you can put on a midlife crisis. It can last anywhere between several months to even a couple of years.
When a couple is committed to doing all it takes, there’s nothing that they cannot survive together. By figuring out how to deal with a spouse’s midlife crisis and by working on the marriage every day, a couple can undoubtedly survive a midlife crisis.
A feeling of acceptance and comfort may take over. The crisis will only end when a person comes to terms with what their ever-changing reality is, and does not grasp on to an idea of youth that has already sailed away.