How to Respond to Your Wife’s Midlife Crisis to Avoid a Divorce
When couples marry, their vows usually include some variation of the phrase ‘for better or for worse.’ But what happens when for worse is really bad, and you cannot communicate with your wife effectively? What happens if your spouse begins questioning everything, including your marriage? This sounds like a wife’s midlife crisis, which can be difficult for husbands to deal with. However, there are certain things you should do to avoid the irreversible breakdown of your marriage.
Try to identify how your wife is responding to a midlife crisis. Perhaps she is engaging in new hobbies at the expense of time with you or her responsibilities at home. Maybe she's engaged in an affair. It is possible she wants to relive her youth and is considering plastic surgery. Try to identify what it is she feels like she is ‘missing' and help her in finding it together. It is easy for her to blame you for any unhappiness she feels, or that you're to blame for missed opportunities.
Sometimes, wives’ midlife crises orbit around a feeling that they have been sitting on the sidelines too long because they have put the needs of others before their own. Start taking on more if you can. Whether it is helping out around the house a bit more, agreeing to hire a maid or get extra childcare on the weekends, your wife needs time for herself. Encourage her to try new things or go traveling. If she tells you that she does not want to do it alone, then go with her. This is a great opportunity for you to explore new things with your spouse, which is a crucial ingredient in the longevity of a marriage. It will bring you closer. Maybe money is a source of contention and you feel that you cannot afford trips or a maid. Be smart about your choices, but ultimately, try to think of these expenses as an investment in your marriage. Spending a weekend away together or hiring someone once a month to take a load off is not asking too much when it comes to your marriage.
You should keep in mind that you need to take a balanced approach. The key is to be available and encouraging, but not controlling or prying. Let her know that you are there to listen and be supportive, but do not make demands or ultimatums. Insisting on talking through the relationship and making a decision will not be beneficial to either of you. Do not force your spouse to attend counseling or read self-help books. They will need to come to a conclusion about their life and marriage with you on their own – but you should do what you can to help when they ask.
Be patient with your wife. She may not understand why she feels the way she does any more than you do. Chances are, it took her years to get to this point, and it might take her years to get back to normal. There are no quick fixes (not even divorce), so you must be patient and accept that it will take time to work through. In order to avoid a divorce, it is critical to acknowledge any shortcomings you have or role you may have played in how she feels – and work together to make changes. Offer to attend couple's counseling or get counseling on your own to identify any behaviors you might have that are problematic. Become a good listener and acknowledge the feelings your wife has – even if you think she is unjustified. Remember, that's not the point. She might feel abandoned or neglected even if you feel that you have been spoiling her rotten. What is important is that you acknowledge she feels that way, and then ask her to help you come up with ways to avoid her feeling that way in the future.
Try to avoid feeling resentful about your spouse’s emotions. It can feel like purgatory, waiting on a spouse to make up their mind about whether or not they want to stay with you or go. Maybe you feel like you’re twisting yourself in knots to keep your wife happy. During this time, take the opportunity to focus on yourself, too. If your spouse is involved with new activities, feel free to explore your own hobbies. Use the time to plan activities with you and the children. Take classes or get an additional certification which can boost your career. If you can stay busy and focused on something else, it will save you from counting the seconds while waiting for your wife to come around. It will also help you keep things in perspective and realize if your wife is really having a midlife crisis, or if she is using her emotions to manipulate you into giving her what she wants.
You will need to decide when enough is enough. It is possible that the marriage is beyond repair, or that you simply cannot give your wife what she needs. You should not be bullied into being a perfect husband, and you cannot be expected to ‘fix' your spouse. If you decide that your marriage is irreconcilable, then begin setting healthy boundaries with your spouse, and begin working towards separation or divorce. During this time, find external support through friends or family. Seek out the advice of a good therapist who can help you keep some perspective and feel in control.
If you need help in responding to your wife’s midlife crisis, the advice of a good family lawyer can be invaluable. Contact the Law Office of Peter Van Aulen today for a free initial consultation, at (201)845 – 7400.