Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wonder if my wife is having some kind of midlife crisis?” Maybe her behavior has suddenly changed and she’s acting in uncharacteristic or dramatically different ways. Or maybe this has been building up for a while, and you’re starting to get worried.
Either way, here’s a quick checklist to run through. It’s by no means definitive or exhaustive, but if you find yourself saying “yes” more than “no,” then it’s possible your marriage is about to get a bit rockier, at least for a while.
Ten Signs to Watch For:
1. She’s between 30 and 55 years of age.
2. She is withdrawing from the marriage. She may also be withdrawing from the family unit, even her own children. Yet at the same time, she may be socializing more with other people.
3. She is re-writing your history. No matter how many times you to try remind her of the good times, she only remembers the bad. She may say things like, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been happy…maybe we got married for the wrong reasons,” or something along those lines.
4. She blames you for most (if not all) problems in the marriage, and maybe even for her own unhappiness.
5. She is immersing herself in new ideas, interests and lifestyle choices, perhaps reading more self-help books or learning about new spiritual systems.
6. She’s less interested in intimacy. Despite this, she is taking steps to improve her appearance. This may mean working out more or even getting plastic surgery.
7. She is self-indulgent and self-focused. More and more, she seems to only think of herself and her own happiness. She may spend more time and more money on herself.
8. She is more critical of you. She is quick to anger and lose her patience with you and even her kids.
9. She is more secretive, particularly with her phone. She may change her passwords and delete her text history, often accusing you of being “paranoid” or “controlling” if you express concern about this. This may happen at the same time that she strikes up a close friendship with a male friend.
10. She expresses confusion about her feelings for you or uncertainty about her commitment to the marriage. She may say things like, “I love you but I’m not in love with you,” or “I don’t know what I want…I need space to figure it out.”
Of course, this is just a general, oversimplified checklist of behaviors and there can be many reasons behind them. Nonetheless, if more than a few seem familiar to you, it may be time to have a good heart-to-heart with your wife. Just be sure that you bring empathy and compassion to the conversation, rather than criticism or accusation.
Getting older and transitioning into midlife (and beyond) isn’t easy for anyone – if you’re of a certain vintage, you probably understand that. So instead of using this “crisis” to widen the divide between you, look for common ground.
• Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. can help you now, not weeks from now. See her Marriage SOS instant-access marriage recovery programs.