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Why Having “An Attitude” Can Help You Survive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis

Rosie the riveter

There’s an old movie called Fried Green Tomatoes, and in it, a character named Evelyn is facing the challenges of an unhappy midlife marriage and a husband who seems uninterested in her. She’s reminded of an old piece of advice to get back the spark—dress up in cellophane for her husband.

Of course, the image is funny. Sort of. It’s funny sad. That’s because the sexy act didn’t come from a place of empowerment or fun, it came from a place of powerlessness and desperation. And unfortunately, I see a lot of that in my practice.

I’ve too often seen wives who are facing a husband’s self-focused midlife crisis behavior almost being held in that state of powerlessness by those to whom they turn to help them break free of it. After all, it’s easy to give advice like “be patient” or “be supportive” or “he’ll come around…break out the cellophane and keep trying”—that kind of advice doesn’t challenge the client or the behavior of her husband.

Now of course you need to be patient and supportive (to a point), but maybe…just maybe…what you really need is a bit of attitude.

At this point in your life—which I’m going to assume from the title of this post is midlife or beyond—I’m willing to bet that you’ve slain more than your fair share of dragons. You’ve faced a thousand crises: job losses, health issues, problems with your kids, disappointments, the death of loved ones, as well as the countless other curveballs, tragedies, conflicts and shit shows that life can throw at a woman.

None of that lets up with age, despite the fact that every wellness site out there seems to delight in telling us (as if we didn’t already know) that our bones are getting more brittle, we’re getting more fragile, and our skin is getting thinner.

But that’s not how I see it. From what I’ve seen, there are few creatures on this earth as strong, resilient or thick-skinned as a woman who has managed to climb over, slip around, or even crash through life’s parade of hurdles.

And if your husband is going through the kind of midlife crisis that I deal with here at Marriage SOS—self-focused, disrespectful, strategic and often unfaithful—you’re going to need to be strong, resilient and thick-skinned.

So be that. Summon the memories of every challenge you’ve risen to, every storm you’ve weathered, every obstacle you’ve overcome, and use that to feel more empowered, more capable, more proud, more valuable. Because when you don’t feel those things, or more accurately, when someone is trying to prevent you from feeling those things, they’re often doing it for their own benefit. There’s a reason behind it.

So don’t buy into that reason. Get clear, and get a little attitude. Because sometimes attitude can provide the armor we need to start letting life’s slings and arrows—or a husband’s midlife crisis behavior—bounce off of us instead of piercing so deeply.

 

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