As I sit down to type this article, ignoring the little crack in my knee as I adjust my chair, I’m reminded that spouses really do have to help and support each other through the changes that midlife, and beyond, bring.
Some of those changes—if the fates have been kind—are good. Financial security, the ability to have more control over the way you spend your time and who you spend it with, and the liberating “I don’t give a sh*t” attitude that comes with being of a certain vintage.
Some changes aren’t so good. Like the cracking joints or the sagging skin or the faltering energy levels. These are all reminders that we’re marching a little closer to… well, you know. People, couples, handle this in different ways. Some grow closer, but others grow apart.
While both women and men can experience the so-called midlife crisis, they often do so in different ways. Unfortunately, I consult with many women who are dealing with a husband in the midst of a marriage-damaging midlife crisis, specifically the kind that involves skyrocketing levels of self-focus and self-indulgence, and even infidelity. The midlife affair is a real thing.
A great trio of tips
What follows are three overarching ways you can help your husband during his midlife crisis—or at least during the early phases of what you suspect is an encroaching midlife crisis. Because when it comes to this type of crisis, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.
1. Make him feel appreciated. Whether it’s for his years of hard work and being a good provider, whether it’s for supporting you and your career or passions, or whether it’s for being a great dad to your kids, be sure to show your husband that you appreciate all he’s done for you and your family. Don’t assume he knows that you’ve noticed his contributions or sacrifices. Talk about them in detail, acknowledge and appreciate them, and you’ll see him light up with appreciation for you.
2. Make him feel youthful. You’ll notice that I chose the word “youthful” instead of “young.” That’s because even a very elderly person can have a youthful spirit and a youthful zest for life. It’s all in the twinkle of the eye. So look for new adventures and break out of your comfort zone—because if not now, when? Very importantly, don’t neglect your sex life. No, you won’t be swinging from any chandeliers, but there’s nothing stopping you from pushing your boundaries a bit in the bedroom and keeping your husband feeling like a man in his prime… at least when it comes to pleasing his wife.
3. Make him feel like he’s lucky to have you. This is a big one. Really big. Maybe the biggest. Why? Because when it comes to those marriage-damaging and self-focused midlife crises that I mentioned earlier, if often happens that man begins to take his wife for granted. This can make it easy for him to descend into the kind of behavior that can cause real problems, including rewriting your history and being unfaithful. So make him realize just how lucky he is to have you. This doesn’t mean thinking too highly of yourself or behaving like a diva, it just means being the type of wife, and woman, that no man would risk losing.
Because this article, and my approach, isn’t just about helping your husband—it’s actually a lot more about helping you dodge the type of male midlife crisis that can do damage to your marriage and to your sense of security, well-being and dignity.
I hope you’ve found this trio of tips helpful; however, if your circumstances have already deteriorated and your husband is having a more problematic midlife crisis, one that is taking a toll on your marriage and you, don’t wait any longer to do something about it… something other than worrying and wondering, that is.
My Marriage SOS series of online programs tackle tough issues like a husband’s midlife crisis and passionless marriages, so I hope you will take the time to see if they’re right for you. They offer detailed guidance that is as real and tangible as the pain and confusion you may be feeling, and with a proven track record, they can help you reconnect with your husband and save your marriage from the kind of midlife crisis that can unfortunately do lasting damage. After all, this time in your life should be about leaving the bulk of your worries and stress behind, not having to deal with a whole new set of them.
Debra Macleod, BA, JD, is the creator of Marriage SOS™. She has served as an expert resource for major media around the world, from The New York Times and Entrepreneur to ELLE and Men’s Health magazine.