March 23, 2012 - submitted by Mary, United States of America

How can I help my husband get through mid life crisis? I want to help him so much but I can't seem to get it right.
Do u have any ideas?
Mary, USA.

The Oracle replies:

It is often branded a cliche but this is a subject that I have witnessed at close range more than once. I have to say in my experience it's mostly been males I have seen it happen to in varying degrees.
I have seen 30 year old and 40 year old men give up on long-term relationships for younger women, I have seen men buying guitars and sports cars to try and regain lost youth. I have heard men say they have nothing good in their life despite a loving family. I have seen depression over finances, careers and even hair loss. I have seen women getting involved with much younger men and sadly one ended up in hospital. The point I am making is a mid-life crisis can manifest itself in different levels from mild to extreme - I don't know which level your husband is at.
It sounds as though he is possibly displaying negative mood swings.
All I can say without knowing more is to handle this with care. If you can remain as positive as possible because the problem can exacerbate quickly. Don't put pressure on him to let you in or on yourself to fix it. You can't force it so just make sure he knows you're there for him and try to stay as close to your normal as possible.
If there's things you can do together for fun, try to get involved and embrace part of the change. It doesn't have to be seen as a bad thing, just as a transition. I don't need to tell you how hard it can be to live with someone going through this but your reaction is as important as the crisis behaviour. It can be distressing for both parties. Just take care to observe radical changes in mood as it can easily turn into a dark depression and that's a different problem to tackle. As with grief (which can be a trigger sometimes) a mid life crisis requires understanding, support and a large amount of patience. Good luck, Mary.
Over to you...

Mary, just be there. Think about it, when we are in our 20s, we are busy trying to build careers, getting married, having children, and working on making ends meet, pretty much numb. In our 30s, the career is farther along, the children are older and we're still distracted with daily living, while settling into a routine. In our 40s/50s, the children are grown and don't need us as much, careers may feel stagnant, and we have fewer distractions. A feeling of "there is something more" creeps in as the distractions of life, get less and less. Sometimes, it's just a feeling of getting old, so use this opportunity to discover new things and break from the old routines. Start doing new activities with your husband, freshen the relationship up a bit. Go out on dates, exercise or walk together, it doesn't have to be complicated, just rediscover each other again; you both have changed over the years. Encourage him to get a hobby; I'm sure there is something he's always enjoyed or wanted to do. Try volunteering, join a community group or even a church. Spirituality helps us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Balance the time you both have individually and together, everyone needs space. This time of life is about exploring who you really are and finding where you fit into it. Don't hold onto the past, it will only cause frustration, but a new beginning, will bring new life to both of you. Dawn.

I will keep this short, and based simply on what I would do: be supporting. Many people go through this crisis, some easier than others, so it's hardly unusual. As long as your husband knows that you are there by his side, I'm sure everything will be fine. Marriage is a strong bond between two people - make sure to let him know that you're aware of that. Whenever I'm down, I find comfort in knowing that there's always someone there to help me get right back up again. I am sure he, as well as many others, feel the same way. So just... be there. That's, really, all you can do in the end. Best wishes, Medina.

I think that your husband needs important changes in his life.
New things, new experiences, new feelings.
To come back to life, to feel passion for something again, to feel alive.
And of course, you, his wife, are the key here to accompany him in this proccess.
Why don't you two take up a different activity from what you're used to?
A different language, some sports, Thai food... There must be so many things I can't name them all.
These things should bring sparks to his life again.
This is just an idea which I think would tremendously work.
Just check it: when people feel down, they get a new haircut, change the style of their clothes,
take up yoga, visit new places... the feeling is great.
Perhaps also at these activities he could make new friends, share points of view...
I'm sure there are people in the same situation.
If we stay together, we can work everything out.
The best of luck, Caro.

I recommend trying new things with him and being understanding. Be sensitive to his adventurous plans if he has any and try to make sure you are both communicating with each other. He might be rethinking decisions he's made in the past. That can be alright but if it leads to him being distant I think you should have a talk with him. Give him enough space to figure things out on his own, but let him know you're there for him if he needs you. Remind him of his accomplishments when he's being pessimistic and that he has people that care for him. I don't have much experience with this subject, but i hope this helps. Love, Darem.

You must ask yourself, is anyone ever truly ready to grow up. We tend to cling to the lives we're familiar with, and it can happen in multiple stages of life. Midlife crisis is the most obvious stage where this occurs, because it's hard to think that it's time to settle down, when you aren't finished with being young and independent. While I'm certainly nowhere near midlife crisis, I experienced a similar situation when transitioning from my senior year of high-school to college, I just wasn't ready. I encourage you to support him, and his ideas, unless they become too extreme, and that's all you need to do. Your support can go a long way, especially now, where he'll come to the realization that it's time to settle down.
Best wishes, Bradley H.

My Dad suffered from a mid life crisis and to be honest we all tried so hard but ended up walking on egg shells which made the home a horrid place to live. In the end we had a family meeting and said we were trying to understand but if he didn't talk to us, we couldn't properly. He was in denial which didn't help any of us. We eventually just carried on around him and if he needed us, we were there for him but there wasn't really very much we could do. Tim.

I once lived with a man who got really depressed about getting old. He felt a failure. He wasn't great at communicating his feelings. I tried to help but nothing I did really worked. I'd suggest ways to make him happier like retraining for a new job. I even said I would keep the home running if he wanted to go and travel. I just wanted him to be happy. Sometimes it seemed to make a difference and I thought we were finding a way through but the next day he would always revert back to the dark place. It was very hard. I hate to be so selfish but in the end I couldn't cope with it as I was supporting him but there was nobody supporting me. I feel myself sinking down and I wasn't prepared to go there with him. I gave an ultimatum as he hadn't taken any offers of help from me so either, get professional help for the depression or leave. He called a counsellor and made an appointment but he couldn't go through with it. He left. He soon after moved in with a woman half my age and got her pregnant. I don't regret my decision. I am sorry to bring it down but I wanted to warn you. I know relationships are two people working together, but I felt alone and like I was the only one working at it. It was a lot of pressure. I guess what I am saying is make sure you look after your needs while supporting your husband - if you choose to continue doing that. I admire your strength. Dee.

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