How to Help Your Husband Through His Midlife Crisis 0

phoenix-bird-image-edit2.gifWhat should you do if your husband is going through a midlife crisis?  This is a difficult time for both of you.  You’re both feeling anxious, and you may be wondering if your marriage will survive.  You might even be going through your own midlife crisis, adding additional stress to your relationship.  This is a painful process.  There’s no denying it.  And I’m sorry that you’re hurting.  The good news is that your marriage can weather this storm, just as it’s weathered others.  Your husband is waking up to more authenticity and more aliveness.  He has an opportunity to discover purpose and to finally grow up, and I think you’re going to find this very attractive.

Helping him through the process is tricky.  You want to help, but he may resist your offers if he senses neediness from you, judgments about him, or that you know better what he needs.  The bottom line is you need to love him through the process, and you need to love yourself through the process.  I’m going to break that down now into ten tips to help both of you navigate his crisis in a positive direction.  The first three might surprise you because they’re about taking care of you.  But you can’t help your husband if you don’t take care of yourself first.

  1. Defend your boundaries.  Being supportive does not mean letting him walk all over you or blame you for his problems.  Talk with him about what you’re willing and not willing to tolerate, and bring up grievances as soon as possible so they don’t fester.  See my article on Resolving Conflict.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Find a support group or confide in friends who will listen in a healthy and supportive way.
  3. Let him know what you need from him with clarity and simplicity.  Figure out what you most need from him to feel safe and loved, and exactly what that would look like coming from him.  He’s overwhelmed with his process, so make it easy for him to give you what you most want.  My wife and I do this each week, and it’s made a big difference.
  4. Listen to him.  When he talks about his pain and confusion, try not to take it personally or to defend yourself.  When you feel yourself wanting to defend, just repeat back what you heard him say.  Listen with curiosity and compassion, the way you would listen to a friend.
  5. Give him space.  He might withdraw at times.  And you might think, “He’s leaving me!”  This is natural.  Nobody wants to feel abandoned.  The problem is, if you act clingy or needy when he’s trying to get space, he might push you away, or he’ll stay and then resent you for it.  Allow him time to figure things out, and know that this time helps him become a better husband.
  6. Let go of the qualities your husband dropped.  For instance, you may have fallen in love with a man who loves camping, but he doesn’t go camping anymore.  If you really wish he still liked camping, then it may be you who wants to go camping.  So go camping without him, and stop wishing he would be what he used to be.  In order to love the man he’s becoming, you have to let go of the man he once was.
  7. Let go of wanting things to be different than they are.  It’s natural to want things to be different.  And you deserve a life that goes your way all the time.  We all want that.  But the truth is, you can’t control him or his midlife transition.  And wanting him to be a certain way or for things to be better leads to disappointment and frustration.  You can influence him, but the only one you have control over is yourself.  So practice appreciating your life as it is.
  8. Gently encourage him to find support.  This is tricky, as men tend to resist help, and he may take suggestions that he seek help as a sign that you don’t accept him as he is.  For instance, if you pushed a certain book on him, nagging him about it, he might never read it.  But he might read the same book if he discovers it on his own.  Instead of pushing, make quiet recommendations.  A post-it note, a brochure or book left where he can see it, or a link to a website with a short note, may work better, as long as you don’t overdo it.  If he’s the type who’s willing to listen, you can talk with him about your concerns, letting him know that you care about him and that he doesn’t have to figure it all out on his own.  Tell him that a man with an army behind him is stronger than a man on his own.
  9. Have fun and adventure together.  Your husband may be exploring and opening up to new possibilities, so take advantage of it!  Let him know that you appreciate his explorations, and offer to go on adventures with him.  Also be accepting when he wants to go on some adventures solo or with men friends.
  10. Be curious and love him.  He wants to hear that you love him when he’s a wreck, and that you’ll love the new man that’s emerging.  And he wants you to be sincere about it.  This is a tall order.  Try imagining how God might see your husband, or how some really loving person might see your husband in the state that he’s in.  What would this person find lovable in him?  The best thing you can do for your husband is to just love him.

That’s it.  As I said before, the main idea here is to love him and love yourself through the process.

One last thing.  Don’t be surprised if you go through your own midlife crisis.  As your husband questions everything and makes changes, you may start asking your own questions.  Be open to going on your own midlife adventure, discovering more deeply who you are, why you’re here, and what you truly want.  It’s a journey worth taking.

His midlife transition is an uncomfortable and scary time for both of you.  It can also be a time for mutual learning, excitement, and fun.  If he’s willing to move through the midlife journey, your husband will become more authentic, mature, and alive, and your marriage will become richer than ever.  I invite you to introduce my work to your husband.  If you think he’ll be open to coaching, send him to the video on my home page.  If you think he’ll be reluctant, send him to this video.

Please post your questions and comments here or on the private forum, or you can contact me.  And if you have a friend going through the same thing, please pass them these tips.  I wish you well.