Midlife Crisis Divorce

2019-01-16T19:32:00+00:00

My mission and my passion is helping women who are a facing a midlife divorce. I didn’t plan on this work, but I went through a divorce when I was 53 and I was a mess. My wasband (he was my husband, but he’s not any more) decided he needed something more exciting than the life we had been building for 33 years. His ongoing midlife affair was a devastation to me as a woman and a disappointing unexpected reality for our four children.

According to some experts, my wasband was merely having his culturally okay “Midlife Crisis.” Divorce is often a natural result of that phenomenon.

The women who reach out to Midlife Divorce Recovery for help often do so because their husband was feeling antsy and dissatisfied in his middle years and decided to abandon his integrity, his responsibilities and his family and find some sweet young thing to stroke his ego and probably one of his other favorite parts as well.

So, I’ve got to admit that when I hear another story of a man in midlife not only going through his predictable crisis, but acting on it and leaving his family, I want to throw up.

It seems to be an acceptable rite of passage in our culture today. He buys a red car, starts working out and visits online dating sites. Or maybe he just spends less and less time at home and more and more time with divorced friends and single peers. No matter how much devastation a husband/father leaves in his wake, his bad behavior is “understandable” as long as he can label it a Midlife Crisis.

Somehow, it has become normal and unavoidable, so we should all be mature and just accept it. I think that’s a bunch of hooey! I am not a therapist or a psychologist, but I personally think most Midlife Crises that cause the destruction of a marriage and a family are a cowardly way to face the challenging, but natural, stages of life.

We’re all human beings. Men and women both should be pondering life and the bigger picture of what we are doing on this earth. We should be figuring out what we stand for. What we value. What we can do every day to bring light and joy and fun to this sometimes dark world. We’re not supposed to become part of the problem because of normal changes that happen to us in midlife.

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Your Husband Is Going Through A Midlife Crisis And Wants A Divorce!

Even though men are often the focus of a discussion on Midlife Crisis, here are some common definitions of this new so-called existential threat to our being that happens almost universally to all people.

From Merriam-Webster: “medical Definition of midlife crisis: a period of emotional turmoil in middle age caused by the realization that one is no longer young (surprise! surprise! – Suzy) and characterized especially by a strong desire for change.”

“A midlife crisis is a period of doubt and anxiety that some people experience in middle age, when they think about whether their life is the kind of life that they want.” (PS – If it’s not, you don’t have to throw away your marriage and destroy your family to change it! – Suzy)

midlife crisis. “noun. a period of psychological stress occurring in middle age, thought to be triggered by a physical, occupational, or domestic event, as menopause, diminution of physical prowess, job loss, or departure of children from the home.” (Some life changes like the empty nest can allow you to rekindle a new romance with your spouse! – Suzy)

Have we become such emotional weaklings that when we go through the normal aging process, we don’t have enough moral depth to keep us from abandoning our principles and often our families in the process?

Reasons For A Midlife Crisis

According to the author of an article in psychocentral.com about midlife crisis, here are some of the possible reasons a so-called “midlife crisis” happens:

  • We experience a normal dip in happiness levels in the middle of life
  • We face a loss of youth and physical vigor
  • We have fewer opportunities and may feel stuck in a job that we don’t like
  • We feel stressed out about all of our responsibilities
  • We worry about the passage of time and ultimately facing death

All of these are normal concerns of all people. Why is it that some people, men in particular, think these normal changes are a reason to panic or a license to abandon what they know is good and right?

Dealing With A Midlife Crisis

Okay, what are we supposed to do when we start having questions and feelings about the direction our life is taking when we’re somewhere in those middle years?

Midlife does not have to be cause for an existential disaster or become a crisis. Why not call it a “Midlife Transformation” or a “Midlife Reset” and make it a positive thing?

I am not making light of the real questions we all ask ourselves as we get older. But I worry that we haven’t been giving enough time and thought to those bigger questions about life all along.

Maybe some couples truly do become incompatible as they grow older. We are living longer and we have more options for “happiness,” but we have to face getting older regardless of whom we’re with.

We are sometimes afraid to talk with our spouse about issues that are threatening to the relationship. But we have to be willing to talk. The most heartbreaking stories I hear are stories of women whose husband ( or some husband whose wife) simply walks away without ever admitting they are struggling, or talking about what’s bothering them.

Or worse, men simply find some, usually younger, dissatisfied woman who is willing to betray another woman by having an affair with them while they are grappling with these midlife issues.

If you’re experiencing midlife anxiety, why not pour some of that energy into your current relationship? Why not whisk your wife (of 20 or 25 or 30 years) to some romantic destination or send her loving little text messages during the day or send her flowers for no reason at all?

She may be feeling some midlife worries about herself, too. This can be a time of renewal for both of you within your marriage. Try a new sex toy! Suggest some romantic weekend away — even if it’s only in a hotel in your own city. Do something kind of crazy, together!

At least try spicing up your own marriage before you go off and find someone new to cover up those scary feelings you might be feeling.

How Midlife Crisis Causes Divorce

It’s easy to see why a so-called midlife crisis could cause a divorce. If the person experiencing the anxiety about his or her life tries to fix that by finding someone new, that definitely jeopardizes your marriage.

Infidelity

Trying to solve the issues that are troubling you by finding someone outside of your marriage to make you feel young, almost never solves your real problem. When you doubt your desirability or your sexual ability, short flings only fix that temporarily.

Using someone else to ty to fix your inner insecurities doesn’t work anyway. What happens when you have to start asking yourself, “Can I perform for very long with this much younger woman who is going to expect more and more of me in the bedroom?” That may cause more self-doubt than fixing things with your wife.

And then those men who face their midlife crisis by hooking up with women young enough to be their daughters just look ridiculous and embarrassing. They may get a temporary boost, but they need to ask themselves, “What do I have in common with someone my daughter’s age? Maybe they don’t care. They should. Those relationships rarely end well for anyone.

Unhappiness, Loss Of Interest Or Depression

One of the sad things I see in my midlife divorce recovery work is that when men are unsure of themselves, they start detaching emotionally. Wives try to help, and we ask what’s going on, but either men don’t know how to talk about it or have already decided to move on.

Men often have real questions about the viability of their marriage, but instead of addressing it, they run away. Get help fixing your marriage! If you can’t fix it, end it and then go find what you think you want.

But it’s ugly and not fair to string your spouse along while you go play around to see if you can find someone “better.” That’s a cowardly, selfish way to deal with problems you are having about getting older. The problem is not your wife. It’s you.

Aging can cause clinical depression and you may need to get professional help. Talk to a counselor and tell them what is going on and see what they suggest.

Change Is Normal

Life is Change. Change in ourselves, in our partners, in our relationships are normal as we age. If we’re not changing, we’re dead. But these times of major change…retirement, kids leaving home, slowing down physically, all have seeds of new, adventurous opportunity in them.

All of us want to be healthy and strong and exciting as we age. We can all do things to stay in better shape. We can do things together that invigorate us both. But we can also learn to enjoy the slower pace of this time of life, instead of fighting against it.

We can’t fix anything if we don’t share with each other what we’re feeling and either use it to improve our marriage or decide together to go our separate ways.

It’s Not Your Fault

Men often have trouble talking about what’s bothering them. It can help to share that we are feeling some of those same midlife insecurities.

But I feel for all those women who contact me whose husband simply leaves without sharing or trying to fix things. There are definitely unexpected negative consequences to just bailing out. You’re still getting older regardless of how young your current fling is.

I read somewhere that we shouldn’t die of someone else’s misery. Don’t take responsibility for your husband’s bad choices if he’s determined to act out during his midlife crisis. Those decisions are about him, not you.

Don’t Lose Yourself: Focus On You

One thing we need to do ourselves in midlife is to figure out who we are now and what we want to do with this time in our own life. Our middle years can be challenging physically, emotionally and as a family, but these years can also be a phenomenal time to rediscover life during these later years.

We are all living longer. Most of us are still healthy and strong. These can truly be the best years of our life, but it’s up to us to make that happen. We can start by looking at this time, not as a Midlife Crisis, but as a midlife opportunity for positive and purposeful change!

If your husband has left your marriage because of a midlife crisis, we can help. Sign up for our FREE 10-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course and start getting your life back. Do it now.

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About the Author:

Suzy developed Midlife Divorce Recovery as a safe refuge for people healing and surviving the overwhelm of divorce. Starting her first RADiCAL support group in 2003 she's been helping women navigate the journey of divorce ever since.

8 Comments

  1. Barbara Butterfield December 9, 2018 at 4:04 am - Reply

    My ex left me for somebody older …what’s up with that?
    We were married for 33 years we were best friends did everything together. Ended up blaming me for everything that happened in our whole life together. He just wanted out he refused counseling he said he didn’t want anyone getting into his head, refused to go to church he said he didn’t need to be preached to… I asked for another chance and he said he had already given me hundreds of chances. It’s horrible to be thrown away like an old pair of shoes.

    • Abby March 1, 2019 at 3:06 am - Reply

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Your story sadly seems so familiar to mine. It’s similar to others I’m reading about. It’s hard to sort out. It’s hard not to feel discarded. My husband of 26 years didn’t want to work on things. I’ve read that they’ve had a million conversations in their head so they think they’ve worked on things with you.
      My husband has changed so much. Make sure you’re protected financially. I’m shocked at how he’s spent money. Good luck to you! You’re not alone!

  2. Anthony December 19, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

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  3. Sally Aikin February 2, 2019 at 1:35 am - Reply

    I have just gone through a divorce due to a midlife crisis affair and don’t feel bitter about it. My husband was the most loving caring man I have ever met. He never cheated or even looked at another woman for 31 years. He waited for a year for me when I had a midlife crisis and had a very brief emotional affair and then waited for me for another 3 years while I went through menopause/empty nest syndrome. Even though I felt betrayed by his emotional affair before we divorced and sexual affair after we divorced I still love him. I don’t believe he would be doing this if it wasn’t just a stage that all men go through on some level at some point in life. I believe he loves me more than this thing he has to do to feel young again for awhile. I believe that something changes in their brains that they cannot help just as I couldn’t help going through menopause. I told him that I hope he finds happiness and if he doesn’t I will be here waiting for him. He is the father of my children and I will always love him for that reason. We have gone through good times and bad and always made it through and I believe we will make it through this as well. I went through a hard time for the first four weeks but I am doing very much better. I still have low points but it is getting easier. I do think he will need my help when he gets to the stage of deep depression when he realizes what he has done and what he has lost. Not only a wife but a friend and companion who shares the same interests. If he makes it with his new girlfriend that is 13 years I will be happy for him and find someone else for myself. I couldn’t help leaving him in my times of crisis and I don’t believe he can help this either. I think more attention should be focused in these problems for both women and men.

  4. Chet Thibodaux April 14, 2019 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    My wife of 14years is going thru a mid life crisis at 38yrs old, she has left the home and started a new relationship with an old flame from 20years ago. There’s a reason why this man is single, he has a record of domestic violence arrests and everyone has told my wife that knows him says she’s not a woman beater. His last arrest for domestic violence was in October of 2017. I truly feel sorry for her situation and she doesn’t believe anything I say, she has given up on me and my daughter. She blames me for everything that has happened. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when he will do the same thing he did in his past relationships. My divorce will be final at the end of July of this year.

    • River May 3, 2019 at 3:53 am - Reply

      Sorry to hear, Just starting to realize that this is a thing.. How quickly did your marriage go from okay to crap?.. then how quickly was it decided that it would be over?

  5. John April 24, 2019 at 8:31 am - Reply

    Its hard reading this article and the comments. I’m a man, was married for 10 years with 2 children and now divorced – my choice. I fear this is going to read like a one sided blame but it is most certainly not meant that way, its just me trying to show what goes on in a husbands head. I was dissatisfied with my relationship to my wife whom had been a house mother since the boys were born. I was busy working, as was she being a full time Mum…I had my hobbies and quality time with the family but, always felt that there was never any respect for anything i did. there was a resentment from her, always hanging over our relationship. And, you can’t help but compare yourself to other couples.. and I saw in other couples how much their wives respected the husband and vice versa and got on with mutual respect and love, and these were couples where both the husband and wife worked, not earning great money etc. I was Sleeping in the spare room far to regularly, only getting love and affection if several boxes had been ticked seemed like mind games to me, not real love – maybe this is how women work? always a list to get through – like, if all had been done, id been a good boy then i get the love and praise irrelevant of what i do on a day to day basis isn’t enough. In hindsight, i could be viewed as one of the quiet husbands that didn’t air his concerns – and i tell you why… i viewed our problems, or perhaps her problems as a fundamental flaw – meaning the problem cannot be changed.. its her, its in her personality is how i viewed it, they cannot be worked on because i’ve tried fighting them, and then tried accepting them and then getting so frustrated with them that it turns into a crises. We went counselling, together and separately, but if anything, it pointed out our faults and how far apart we were!? i wanted more date nights with her, more happy time.. wanted to get babysitters in and go out. But she was “tired” all the time and wanted me to do more around the house, even though we had a cleaner and a gardener(!). My view was you can sleep when you’re dead! And yep – i’m that asshole who because he wasn’t getting any love and affection at home went and had an emotional affair with someone who enjoyed my company – I saw my marriage as a jail sentence – something to endure. And hated my wife for that – it should have been happiness and fun – her resentment certainly bread contempt! In my mind..(don’t laugh!) she was “living the dream” an at home mother, with two healthy children and a husband with a good job… and i still got zero respect, just grief. I HATE the fact that i’m divorced. Guilt in leaving is a terrible terrible feeling – but i look back on how much i actually hated my wife – and it was hate at the time – it was like I had to get out. A very strange, but strong feeling. I have met someone else now, older with grown up children, she is lovely – and we have a nice life but knowing that my ex-wife is struggling with the two children ( i see them 3 times a week) in a smaller house consumes my mind and makes me sad ALL the time. its a horrible situation – Divorce is just a very sad thing, I cry every time i drop the kids back to hers. What should i have done? i really don’t know…..

    • Tracy May 23, 2019 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      I feel for your wine, being a mum and a wife is very tiring…it’s a 24hr job. You would have got more time with your wife once the kids were a little older. Of course your new lady will have all the time in the world for you because her kids are grown up. I think you stopped appreciating what you had. It is very sad when all these men put their happiness before there own families happiness. Happiness is within, why didn’t you get a new hobby and hang out with friends instead of blaming your wife for your unhappiness?

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