When your middle-aged spouse begins questioning past decisions and starts making dramatic changes in his life, you can bet he's experiencing a midlife crisis. Of course it's not necessarily a bad thing if he's simply seeking to learn new things or broaden his horizons. But if the crisis results in your spouse becoming seriously moody or exhibiting bizarre behavior either at home or at work, then there could be trouble. Here are four ways to cope with changes in your male partner during a midlife crisis. Have your own ideas? Let us know in comments.
1. Don't be judgmental.
Ken Solin, an author and Huff/Post50 blogger, said that being judgmental and putting a guy down for his newfound interests is a recipe for disaster. "Lots of midlife guys want to buy a motorcycle and women frequently put them down for that, which is a mistake, since it's usually a fantasy a guy has had since he was a boy," he said. "He waited until his kids were grown so no one could tell him he needed to be safe so he'd be around to raise his kids. I think supporting a midlife guy is best in terms of telling him 'This is your time now. Do whatever it is you've always wanted to, but didn't have the energy for.'"
2. Remain calm.
Did you recently stumble across some porn on your husband's computer? Did you completely freak out? You probably shouldn't have. Studies show that almost all men have looked at porn at one time or another, and that pornography didn't change the nature of their relationships with the women in their lives. In all matters, it's best to stay cool and think things through before lashing out.
3. Respect his fear.
You are probably familiar with his bad moods or less-than-stellar behavior, but not his fear. According to Pamela Zivari, an attorney and mediator who specializes in conflict resolution, a midlife crisis is first and foremost about fear. "What fear? Fear he won't ever become who he thought he would be professionally, fear about his body breaking down, fear about retirement, fear about not retiring because of financial problems," she said. "So your response to his crisis, whatever form it takes, should include sympathy and great, great respect for the fear that he might not even have identified, let alone dealt with."
4. Pay attention.
Often women brush off men's emotional issues because men have a difficult time articulating what's wrong. For example, many marriages fall apart after the nest empties. "This can happen for many reasons, but I believe it's because couples lose connection to each other beyond being mom and dad," said Sharon Greenthal, a writer who's written about midlife crises. "Be sure to make your marriage a priority before the kids are gone. The most important thing to do if you believe your husband/partner is having a male midlife crisis is to pay attention to him.
"Women are so in tune with their children, their employers, their employees... sometimes they lose sight of the fact that men need us too," she added. "If women turn away from their husbands, the husbands will find other women to fill in the gap. This happens over and over again."