We see them in movies and read about them in books. We even kid around about going through a midlife crisis when we hit the occasional tough spot in life. All jokes aside though, the midlife crisis is a very real phenomenon and the sudden behavioral changes that come with it can be very worrisome for those of us who have to watch our loved ones struggle.
Is There an Imposter Living in Your House? He’s Probably Having a Midlife Crisis
Have you ever woken up and felt like there was a new man living in your house? Has your man had such a dramatic shift in attitude and behavior you almost don’t recognize him? The "stranger" in your home may be in the midst of a true midlife crisis, but there are things you can do to get through this rough patch together.
How to Recognize Your Man’s Midlife Crisis
There is nothing glamorous about a midlife crisis. Men going through them can be downright nasty and difficult to live with. Their personalities might do a complete 180 and the change can be a little bit scary. Some of the signs he may be going through a crisis include:
- He is suddenly self-conscious about his appearance. He may be working out, grooming differently or even getting beauty treatments like facials. The thinning hair he never cared about before is suddenly a major focus.
- He’s spending a lot of time reminiscing, and not always in a good way. He’s constantly wondering what would have happened “if” he had made other choices in his life. Reminiscing is tantamount to fantasy --- there is no way to know what would have actually happened if the past had worked out differently, so any ideas he has in his head are based in fiction.
- He’s presenting with the classic signs of depression - fatigue, not eating well, and a depressed attitude or demeanor. There may or may not be a trigger for this type of depression. The death of a parent or some other major life change can sometimes trigger a midlife crisis, but this isn’t always the case.
- Your man isn’t paying attention to you, your relationship, or your sex life. He may go as far as telling you that he isn’t interested, that he doesn’t love you as much (or at all), or that you’re the reason he’s so unhappy.
- He’s acting wishy-washy. One day everything wrong with his life is your fault and the next he’s bringing you flowers and taking you to dinner. He blames you for all the things he missed out on in his youth and then says you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
- He’s acting selfish, self-indulgent, and reckless. He’s making major decisions that impact you and your family without consulting you --- spending money, quitting his job, or making a major career change without so much as a word in your direction.
- Your man is being downright mean and disrespectful towards you. He treats you like a lesser person, calls you names, and has become criticizing.
- He’s having an affair - physically or emotionally - with another woman.
Any one of these things alone could be a red flag of a problem in your man’s life. Multiple issues combined is a major sign that he’s really struggling with something much bigger.
Causes of Midlife Crises in Men
The world is quick to head for the calendar when it comes to pointing out potential reasons for women when they experience significant changes in behavior, but men face some of these same issues.
While women go through all the phases of menopause, men have their own version. It’s called andropause, and it can lead to some of the behavior men present during a midlife crisis. The most significant physical change during this period of life is the reduction of hormones. For men, this means having less testosterone.
In a society that judges men based on their abilities to perform as “real men,” a reduction in testosterone can lead to all sorts of new insecurities. Even a man who was once able to “perform” at the drop of a hat may find himself headed to the pharmacy in order to be able to enjoy the intimacy in his life that he once took for granted. That’s a hard hit to take when you consider that identity is often self-defined by the things we succeed at the most.
On top of andropause are society’s other expectations that can leave men wondering if they’ve really done all that they wanted to or if they've reached each societal milemarker along the way. Questions like “Is this really all there is to life?” “Shouldn’t I have done ________ by now?” can prompt them to take quick, not always wise, action.
What to Do About Your Man’s Midlife Crisis
Not sure how to react to all of these changes? No matter what happens, don’t listen to your man when he tells you to simply give him space to work things out. Ignoring the issue is not the solution and will very likely blow up in your face.
While it’s important for you to understand that you are not the actual problem, it’s not unfair to take a step back and look at whether or not there are changes you can make to your life and relationship. Are there things your man constantly groans about that you simply brush off as unimportant? Take a closer look at those things and consider making some changes. He may appreciate the effort and feel closer to you as a result.
Being patient and kind with someone who is being self-centered and rude isn’t easy, but you need to try. Fighting fire with fire isn’t the answer and will only further confuse your already upset man. Be objective about how you approach the changes he’s been making. Express your concerns while attempting to be nonjudgmental. Lay out the issues you’re seeing without placing obvious blame or making accusations and he’ll be more receptive to what you have to say.
Your man will probably give you a hard time about therapy or counseling, but start suggesting it at the first sign of a problem. Individual therapy may help him to get to the root of his confused emotional state, while couple’s therapy may help you work through marital bumps while creating a support system as he moves forward. Encourage him to talk to a clergy member or trusted friend if he absolutely won’t start with professional help.
If all else fails, give it time. Easier said than done, we know. Everyone heals at their own pace, but you know your own limits. Only you know if your husband’s missteps are forgivable. Seek out your own counseling or therapy to support you through your man’s midlife crisis. A bit of outside perspective and advice can make a huge difference in how you cope with the storm brewing at home. Like all other storms, this too shall pass.
~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness