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.
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.
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.