4 Tips to Cope with the Challenges of Your Partner’s Mid-Life Crisis
Dealing with your loved one’s mid-life crisis can pose a real challenge to your patience and to your relationship! What can you do to get over this hurdle without losing your sanity and your stability? Read on for mid-life crisis coping tips.
But first… what exactly is a mid-life crisis? Is it really real?
Suddenly, the man in your life hits forty-five and he comes home with a motorcycle! The classic mid-life crisis. An estimated 5% to 12% of people, aged 39 to 50, experience a mid-life crisis. What factors go into a mid-life crisis, and do women get them too?
To answer the second question first, women do experience mid-life crises, but what causes these episodes seems to be triggered by different things based on gender. Some experts claim that hormonal changes at this stage of life affect both sexes, menopause for women and “andropause” or “manopause” for men. Certainly these hormonal shifts are stressors that can be contributing factors to a mid-life crises, but rarely are they the main culprit.
Women tend to attribute a mid-life crises to new insight about themselves through introspection, whereas men tend to be triggered by career or financial issues, like retirement funds. Aging, if accompanied by a “sudden feeling of the loss of a core set of beliefs” leaves both men and women seeking out verification of their values by trying out how they hold up under new life experiences.
While joking about flashy cars or silly-sounding words like “manopause” can color our perceptions of mid-life crises, they can be accompanied by serious problems that should be professionally treated. Check for these signs:
Big changes in physical appearance, such as becoming obsessed with going to the gym, getting a tattoo or overhauling his or her wardrobe
He or she begins socializing with single (especially younger) people, and may even embark on an affair
Increased alcohol use
Lethargy and loss of appetite
Excessive talking and thinking about the past, particularly past lovers
Okay, so it seems my partner is having a mid-life crisis. How do I deal with this?
1) Be your own person
How long has it been since you’ve done things on your own? Find a new hobby or take that trip you’ve been dreaming about for ages, but never went on because your partner wasn’t interested. Being active (physically and mentally), and independent from your partner will make you feel better and give you both some breathing space.
2) Be patient
As much as you might want to shake your partner and say “get over it!” the emotional struggle of a mid-life crisis can’t be gotten over just like that. It takes time to sort out frustrating and confusing emotions. So as long as you don’t notice any unsafe behavior, try letting time do its work.
3) Sympathize and respect
Sure, you’ve been through your husband’s or wife’s bad moods before, but a mid-life crisis is a little bit different. Unlike anger and frustration, which you’ve probably experienced in your relationship before, a mid-life crisis is usually about fear. Fear of aging, dying, not meeting expectations you had for yourself. These are new fears for your partner and for you to experience through him or her.
4) Don’t judge
Maybe that motorcycle seems stupid to you. But try to think about it from his perspective. The motorcycle isn’t a dumb and potentially dangerous toy. To him, it’s the fantasy of himself that he’s internalized since he was little. Now that the kids are grown, he can finally do whatever it is he’s always wanted to. If you look at it from that point of view, it can be easier to be non-judgmental about his behaviors.