Devon Johnson, 52, has an enviable life; he is educated, gainfully employed as an architect, married for 22 years to a wonderful lady and is the father of twin teen boys. He also lives in a beautiful home in a Charlotte, N.C. suburb. Yet, these days Devon admits that he is feeling trapped in the comfy life he has built for his family. Devon is unhappy most of the time, feels unsuccessful, bored and blames his wife for making him feel tied down. These days he oftentimes finds himself daydreaming about giving up the life he now leads for what he thinks are greener pastures. Devon is going through a midlife crisis.
Both women and men can experience a midlife crisis which is a phase when lives are carefully examined. Folks typically believe they could be happier, more successful, more in love, they are looking to make changes and feel an urgency to do so quickly. “A sure sign that someone may be in a midlife crisis is if they are feeling trapped and very tempted to act out in ways that will blow up their life,” says Lynn Margolies, Ph.D., a Boston psychologist.
World-renowned psychologist Carl Jung first identified this type of emotional transition and deemed it to be a perfectly normal part of the maturing process that occurs between the ages of 40 to 60. Although women are more likely to go through a midlife crisis earlier than men, often between the ages of 35 and 44. Most people come through the phase which can last two to seven years, without a scratch while others, make drastic life changes that can sometimes seriously impact those who are closest to them in a hurtful way. “A midlife crisis can lead to growth or destruction,” cautions Dr. Margolies.
What are the signs that your spouse is going through a midlife crisis?
- Depression: Mood swings. Your partner might not want to join in on family activities. They might demonstrate such negative emotions as a lack of focus, sadness, hopelessness. You might see changes in the way they eat. Energy levels might also take a dive.
- Anger: The spouse will probably be the brunt of all that angers the person experiencing the midlife crisis and they appear mad most of the time. They tend to play the blame game, and their finger is always pointing at someone else for any negativity/conflict that takes place in their lives, never looking inward at themselves.
- Marriage complaints: Even though you never heard your spouse question the marriage, you might get an earful now. They might bombard you with accusations that you were never loving, emotionally supportive, and that you’re to blame for all that ails the marriage.
- Cheating: The midlife crisis sufferer might become tired of their partner enough to want to stray. They might want to experience new thrills in the bedroom but with someone else. They might feel they are entitled to cheating after putting up with a spouse for so many years.
- Indecisiveness: They can’t seem to make a decision and stick with it. Flip-flopping is common during the midlife crisis period. Sometimes decisions are made that can result in painful consequences like divorce.
- Adventure: Someone who is going through a series of emotional ups and downs might make a purchase that seems selfish. They might go out and buy a motorcycle just because they’ve always wanted one, then hang out at a biker bar just for thrills. They might take up a new hobby, play a new instrument, or even dye their hair from black to platinum blond, these folks are looking for a life shake-up.
- Concerned about appearance. A mate might decide to refresh their wardrobe and begin buying pieces that are more youthful or provocative. They might also decide to cover up grays or erase/plump up the facial signs of aging.
How can you navigate through your spouse’s midlife crisis without getting taxed emotionally?
- Focus on you and your children. If your home has turned into a battlefield of sorts, plan activities that will take you away so that you can clear your head.
- Take out your anger elsewhere. Going at it verbally will not help matters any. Instead, redirect your anger in a way that does not involve a shouting match with your spouse. Take a Zumba or kickboxing class at a local gym, throw darts at a board, buy a punching bag and have a go at it.
- Experts recommend not initiating relationship talks during a midlife crisis as you might push your spouse further away. Your marriage is probably low on their list of priorities and they might be trying to distance themselves from you. At this point, try to get a life, make your mate wonder why you are not focusing on them.
- Be a good listener when your spouse comes to you with any problems they’re trying to sift through while experiencing their crisis. Someone who is going through this phase needs to feel they’re in a non-judgment zone and will not take any criticisms lightly about their feelings.
- If everything in your world is going south, therapy is the answer. Family and friends can lend an ear but a good therapist will help bring objectivity and clarity to a confusing period in your lives.
- If your spouse is abusive, empties out your savings, or cheats, you have options. Do you, Boo! There is always the door!