After a marriage that has lasted years or decades, we are understandably attached to our husbands and we care about their well being. When we see them changing before our very eyes, when we see them making choices that we believe are going to hurt them, our instincts are to help them, to fix them, to save them, or at least to make them see sense.
Unfortunately, if he really is in Midlife Crisis, you really can't help him. It's up to him. The nature of Midlife Crisis is that it is "SELFISH" in nature. Both in the usual sense, and in the sense that it is a crisis of the 'Self', he has to figure out who he has being living as, what works for him and what doesn't and who he will become in the remaining years of his life. This is a one person project!
So once you understand that, what can you do?
For starters I'm going to give you a list to think about, when I can I will follow up with a post for each item on the list.
1. Practice Emotional Detachment
Even if you understand on an intellectual level that it's not about you, you need to get to a place emotionally where you can detach from him in order to take care of yourself and your sanity!
Within a marriage the two partners are emotionally 'attached' on many levels, when your husband is having a Midlife Crisis he has detached from you in that sense. You need to understand this and stop living and expecting him to live as though that 'attachment' still guides both of your actions. At this stage it doesn't guide him and in order to take care of yourself, you can't let it guide you.
(This one really does need a post all of its' own, I promise I will get to it ASAP!)
2. Start thinking about Selfishness in all it's forms
You might be spending a lot of time thinking about how selfish he is being, yes he is. It's the nature of this Midlife Crisis beast. However, you will help yourself out a lot by thinking about the other forms of selfishness too and how many of them are actually necessary to your both surviving this crisis. He needs to do a lot of SELF reflection before he will ever emerge from the crisis. You need to become selfish, yes you do! In the sense of detaching and turning your focus away from him and onto your SELF, you may well enter a period of reflection and introspection too. Their crisis can often trigger us to look at our SELF, who we are and who we become through all of this, we reassess our SELF and can learn and grow and even come out the other side stronger and more at peace with our SELF. Selfishness isn't always a bad word!
3. Forget about the Blame Game!
Blame is negative in any form it takes. During your husband's Midlife Crisis (MLC) there can be lot's of blame flying around. He's blaming you, you are blaming him, you are blaming yourself, he may even be blaming himself - it all needs to stop. Blame denies responsibility, it creates victims and it focuses on the past, not much positive going on there is there? So why keep playing that game? Why not try to accept what is, acknowledge what caused it, learn the lessons take responsibility for what is yours to own, refuse responsibility for what is not and empower yourself to move forward?
4. Create some Boundaries and Standards for yourself.
Boundaries are wonderful tools we can use to protect ourselves, they are like little fences we can put in place to stop people from trampling all over us and our feelings. People with no boundaries are often thought of as doormats. Do you think that acting like a doormat at this stage is going to help you survive your husband's MLC? Think about what you will put up with in the way you are treated and define some boundaries, you need to be clear in your own mind what is important to you. Define what your boundaries are, communicate them and then uphold them. Sounds simple enough, but it is a learning process so please be gentle with yourself if you slide sometimes while you learn how to be strong.
If boundaries tell other people what we expect, standards are how we set what we can expect of ourselves. Again you need to define what is important to and how you will hold yourself to a standard, it also helps to build in a safety valve too - what will you do if you feel you are not going to uphold your standard? Walk away? Hang up the phone? This too is a learning process so please be gentle with yourself when you don't manage it, don't beat yourself up, instead learn what triggers you and find work arounds.
5. Understand that this is not about you
This one can be really tough, but it is essential to maintaining your mental and emotional well being. Repeat after me " I did not cause this", you really didn't. He may be throwing all kinds of blame at you and there may even be some elements of truth in what he says (if that is the case then you can use that to do whatever SELF work YOU want to do for YOU), but you did not cause his crisis. It is all about him and the inner work he needs to do. Whilst he is not prepared to or doesn't see that he needs to do thatwork, he will engage in all kinds of behaviours that surprise you, seem out of character for him, but in some way treat the symptoms of unnamed pain and dis-ease that are eating him up. He may come to believe that you caused it, when he refuses to look inwardly then he looks outside for reasons, since you are closest to him you are the first thing he sees when he looks outside, therefore you must be the cause! It isn't exactly sturdy logic, but it is very common logic of the Midlife Crisis Male. Don't buy it!
Welcome to Midlife Wife Support
I mean, by the middle of our lives we have a couple of decades of adulthood behind us. We have launched and worked hard at careers, marriages, families all those things we aspired to achieve. Yet for so many of us it is a time to see those things fall apart.
Midlife Transition is a natural passage of adulthood, we all reach a point where we assess and evaluate our progress in life, we take stock, tweak a few things or even overhaul them and set a direction for the next stage of our lives.
The Transition process is as individual as we are, for some it is barely noticeable, an integral part of our daily life, for others it is a time of reflection and introspection. For others though the Transition can hit a brick wall and can turn into a full blown crisis. When this is the case, the sufferer themselves is often completely unaware, it is their partner who suffers.
If you are the partner, the wife who is left wondering what happened to your husband, your marriage and your life, then this blog is for you.
If you are seeing your marriage fall apart as you watch your husband go through a midlife crisis then I hope you will find useful information / thoughts / musings here to help you get through this time.
My whole point in publishing this blog is to help you to see that their crisis is their own issue. No matter how much you want to, you can't fix it for them. No matter how badly you want to help them, you really can't. It is an inner journey that they need to go on and you are not being offered a companion ticket!
You will do best if you can turn your energy and attention toward yourself. You see, you are going through a crisis of your own and although you cannot save your husband or do his inner work for him, you must do your own inner work and save yourself!