Surviving Midlife Crisis as a Couple
If you are facing a midlife crisis, you may hope it will just go away, or you may believe that dismissing it or ignoring it will help. Unfortunately the feelings people experience in midlife crisis are strong and often persistent, and it’s important to pay attention to those feelings without acting suddenly on them. Many couples make it through significant midlife issues. You can help your relationship by taking time to unpack the feelings you are having. Common feelings include:
Wanting change, often desperately. You may want to leave your partner and family, to start a new life, to find excitement. The pull to change things can be overwhelming at times.
Wanting to be with someone different—either specifically or as a vague idea that life would be easier or more fun with someone else.
Wanting to do things you never got to do as a young person, particularly if you’ve always been faithful and responsible. You may feel destructive, reckless, like you want to burn down your life—even intentionally sometimes. You may feel empty, resentful, angry, and rebellious.
Having trouble seeing why you chose this person, and why you should stay. You may feel that nothing you have is good enough or satisfying and that you want to cast off your life like an old coat you can’t remember why you chose. You likely want to live only for yourself and for the day. And you might occasionally have a sense of being confused and lost.
Most people facing a midlife crisis think there must be good reason for feeling all of these things, and they pay attention to the feelings without evaluating the bigger picture. Midlife crisis usually drives us into focusing on questioning our exterior life. In the bigger picture it can be an invitation to look intentionally at ourselves and reflect on what we want for the second half of our lives.
If you think you might be going through a midlife crisis:
- Don’t make any major changes.
- Have the courage to talk honestly and gently with your partner about what you’re experiencing.
- Remember that the intensity of your feelings will pass.
- Consider speaking with a counselor or therapist who understands midlife crisis and can help you understand what a midlife crisis is and means, sort out what is really driving the urges you’re feeling, and walk through it with you.
Laura Lindekugel M.S., M.S. is a partner in Rekindle Counseling.