You know your man is going through a midlife crisis when he begins to question past decisions and experiences a desire to make impulsive and drastic changes. As long as the behavior is limited to learning new things or exploring different aspects about oneself, it can be relatively harmless. However if the crisis leads him to extremes of behavior in professional and personal life, there are bound to be problems not only for him but also for those closely associated with him like you. Here are a few ways to deal with a man going through this difficult time and emerge relatively unscathed.
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Bring in small changes
One of the defining characteristics of people going through midlife crisis is their hankering for change just for the sake of change. You may notice your partner feeling unusually restless and believing that nothing in life matters anymore. For instance the promotion for which he had been working may suddenly seem not worth the trouble at all. He may even seem bored with interests which he may have zealously pursued earlier, like music or a sport. Psychologists believe that very often such signals are ignored or even denied by their partners, hoping that they would go away. But this is merely postponing the inevitable and if hidden for too long, may take a severe toll on life and relationships. If you find your husband displaying this restlessness, pay attention to him and really listen to his concerns when he talks about them. Also encourage him to make small changes in his life like trying out a new cuisine or taking up an unusual hobby. This might satisfy his desire for novelty without wreaking havoc in your life.
Let him know you are there for him
If your middle-aged partner is going through a crisis, he will probably find fault with everything and everybody around him, including you. He would want to continue to appear strong and collected even though he is at his weakest. At such times, he might reject your attempt at talking things through and yet more than anything he wants to be understood. So, let him know you are there for him anytime he wants to discuss what he is going through. Offer help if he wants it and come up with concrete suggestions if he asks for your guidance. But at the same time give him the space needed to find his own answers. After all it is his crisis and he is the one who has to find a way through.
Re-invent your relationship
The desire to explore newer horizons among men going through a midlife crisis has an unpleasant way of translating into a tendency towards sexual adventures. As they approach middle age, men begin to be aware of their mortality and keenly feel the loss of their youth. This tempts them into affairs so that they can feel reassured of their fast-waning masculinity. During this phase, more than ever, you need to affair-proof your marriage. Be close to your man and communicate with him so that you are aware of the changes he is going through and the actions that he may be taking as a result of those life changes. At the same time do something new together so that your marriage does not appear stale and predictable to your husband. Take a vacation to a place you have never been. Or if it not possible to get out, pursue a hobby which you both enjoy.
Take care of yourself
If your man is going through a midlife crisis, he may appear to be an entirely different person from the guy you married. He is likely to be irritable and angry at everything around him. He may even blame you for tying him down with family and responsibilities. During such times, always remember that none of this is your fault. Remove yourself from the radius of his angst when you find your man behaving this way. Continue to take care of your emotional and physical health. Remind yourself that your relationship is only one aspect of your life and there are many other things which give you pride and pleasure. Even if your partner does get involved into an extra-marital affair, never blame yourself for it. Always keep in mind, that it was he who chose to break the marriage vows, no matter what the driving cause.
Be prepared for changes in sexual relationship
Sudden and significant changes in your sexual relationship with your partner are a significant aspect a midlife crisis. Usually men begin to display a lack of sexual interest in their partners. The reason for this may be two-fold – one, your man is grappling with physical changes like lower levels of testosterone and two, he may be feeling more stressed and anxious than before. Continue to be patient with him and take pleasure in just being close to each other without the pressure of having sex. However a withdrawal from intimacy with a wife may indicate that the husband is involved in an affair in which case the couple might need counseling to tide over the crisis.
Be positive around him
A classic behavior in men going through midlife crisis is excessive nostalgia about the past and questioning the decisions taken then. As long as your husband reminiscences about his high school friends and the good times that he had had with his pals, the exercise may be quite harmless. However this nostalgia may create difficulties if it leads him to feel negatively about all the decisions that he has taken since then and even leads to searching out his former girlfriends. In such a situation, don’t get angry and accuse your husband of using fantasy to escape the realities of life. Gently reveal to him the wonderful family he has and the successful career that he has made for himself. Point out the social and professional prestige he enjoys and how his juniors look up to him.
Seek professional help
Despite your patience and positive approach if you find that you are unable to cope with your partner’s despondency and mood swings, it may be necessary for you to seek professional help. Sometimes the effects of a midlife crisis are exacerbated by unfortunate life changes. If your husband has already been feeling unhappy and restless with his life for some time and then has to deal with a death of a family member or loss of a job, it can lead him into depression. In such a situation it is imperative that you seek professional guidance which will not only help your husband to come to terms with his crisis but also enable you and your family to cope with the situation.
What makes coping with a man going through a midlife crisis that much more challenging is that most likely the guy will refuse to take any help from you and even deny that he needs help. At such times you have to remind yourself – and him – that you both are on the same side. Let him know that you love him and will be always there for him but at the same time you will not give up on your own happiness and well-being.