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Advice Dos and Don'ts for Handling a Midlife Crisis
By Susie and Otto Collins
We've all heard about the stereotypical midlife
crisis during which a person-- often a man-- makes
major life changes.
These don't always seem for the best, either.
In the generalized scenario, a man reaches his 40s
or 50s and feels overwhelmed by a sense of
disappointment with what and where he is right now.
He might get depressed, have an affair, turn to
alcohol and drugs or even run away from his marriage
and family in reaction to the thoughts and emotions
that seem to be crashing down upon his head.
Women also go through midlife crises. They might
also experience a sense of inner turmoil that leads
them to make choices that can be abrupt or seem
It seems to Emily that Jeffrey has become a
completely different person than the man she married
25 years ago.
To Emily, he has become cold, distant and restless.
It seems that when they are together, he'd rather be
This perception of Jeffrey, has led Emily to become
more distant with him. She feels rejected and
wonders if he even loves her anymore.
Whenever Emily tries to talk with Jeffrey, he is
evasive and vague.
Emily keeps feelings that she's done something
horribly wrong to Jeffrey but she can't figure out
what it is. What she does know is that she is tired
of living in a marriage like this.
Of course, not everyone encounters a crisis during
middle age. But when you or your spouse do, the
inner turmoil in one (or both) of you can wreak
havoc on your marriage.
Here are some marriage advice dos and don'ts for
dealing with this difficult and often tumultuous
Don't let the "little" conflicts fester and
Address misunderstandings and miscommunications when
they occur. Don't sweep your tensions away and
hope that they will fade.
This is especially the time when you want to be
honest and clear with one another about what you
If you mate refuses to talk about it, ask him or her
to agree to a time in the near future
when the two of you will communicate about this
Do take responsibility for your own feelings.
It's easy to become confused and even take it
personally when your mate seems distant, cold,
troubled or off-kilter in some other way.
When you perceive something like this about your
partner, take the time to come back to your center.
Notice how you are feeling and what's true for you.
Try to focus in on the feelings instead of any
guesses or assumptions you might be making right
Don't cast blame for distance in your marriage
solely on your spouse or solely on yourself.
Even if your mate seems to be falling apart in the
midst of a midlife crisis, resist the urge to place
the blame for your marital troubles solely on him or
It is possible that the distance between the two of
you is largely due to your partner's inner turmoil.
While you cannot control what's going on with your
spouse, you can make conscious decisions about how
you will respond to what's going on.
You choose not to add to the distance. You can also
choose to address the distancing habits that you
might be more directly part of.
Do take ownership for the choices that you
made in the past.
We've all made some life choices that we wish we
hadn't. Often, regret about the past is a focal
point for midlife crises.
Own the fact that you made the best choices that you
could make at the time you made them in the past.
Forgive yourself and forgive your mate for perceived
mistakes. Take steps to release the past and return
your attention to the present and your desired
Do stay flexible and open.
If your mate will talk with you about what's going
on within him or her right now, listen with as much
openness as you can.
The ideas that your partner might be proposing could
trigger fear or worry within you.
By all means, stay true to what you want. But at the
same time, ask yourself how flexible you are willing
to be during this transitional time for your mate.
Perhaps these are unexpected changes that will
enhance your life as well.
Don't shut down in response to your partner's
When you meet a seemingly cold and closed down
person with coldness and distance of your own, your
situation will only get worse.
Keep cultivating openness, warmth and love within
yourself. Approach your mate with compassion
if at all possible. Not taking the midlife crisis
personally and not making it all about you can help.
Do listen to and honor what you want and need
Stay tuned in to you. You might need to rely on
other sources of positive support for a period of
You might also need to set new boundaries and create
agreements with your mate.
Keep as much connection as you can with your partner
and continue to communicate about what you are
willing to do and what you are unwilling to do at
Be specific in terms of action and time frame.
Do seek outside professional help if you feel
like it would be beneficial.
You might decide that a professional coach or
counselor can help you and your partner through
Even if your mate refuses, do it anyway.
If you feel compelled to seek outside professional
help with your emotions and decision-making about
the future, please do so.
A good coach or counselor will not tell you what to
do-- that is up to you.
But he or she can help you find clarity about your
next step and then follow through on a possibly new
There are no guarantees that any marriage will last
"til death do us part"-- with or without a midlife
You can, however, make deliberate choices that will
help you to create a life of happiness, fulfillment