How to Survive Midlife Crisis as a Couple Part 2: Your Partner’s Midlife Crisis
Weathering your partner's midlife crisis while keeping your sense of humor and hope is extremely challenging. The person you have known and love may be making changes, either subtle or radical. He or she may feel like a stranger some or most of the time. He or she may be rewriting history, even your history, and questioning you and the relationship. If you want to survive midlife crisis as a couple, you'll have to be patient.
It can be helpful to focus on yourself, rather than on your partner, during this time, and to evaluate what changes or improvements you might like to make in your own life. Do the things that you've wanted to do that your partner hasn't shared interest in. Though it's painful, this can also be a time of reflection and growth for you.
It's essential to listen to your partner's complaints and find any understandable parts. All of us sometimes question whether or not we are the people we want to be and have the life, work, or relationship we want as we transition through midlife. For some of us, that’s a fairly smooth process, for others it’s upending and disorienting. Some days the midlife crisis may be doing the talking, but other days, when you can connect, you will have the opportunity to hear more about the struggle, the questions, the pain, and the dissatisfaction your partner is facing. Don't take them personally, and spend some time reflecting honestly on your own.
Be gentle with yourself and your partner. This is a difficult time for both of you. Progress will likely be followed by backsliding. Each day find ways to intentionally take care of yourself. It is possible to come through this together and to create an intentional relationship. In fact, relationships that weather midlife crisis can be even richer and more connected. If the essential question of midlife crisis is: Is this all there is?, the answer is not 'yes,' it's a resounding 'yes' on the other side. But walking through this often long season of life is very challenging.
If you think your partner may be in the midst of midlife crisis:
- Reflect honestly on yourself and your own life.
- Take good care of yourself and focus on your own improvement and growth during this time.
- Don’t take it personally, but do listen to and honor the complaints of your partner, as difficult as they may be to hear.
- Don't try to convince your partner he or she is experiencing midlife crisis by sharing articles or stories or wisdom from others. It will likely lead to defensiveness and distance.
- Don’t try to talk your partner out of a midlife crisis, and don’t be dismissive. Find any understandable parts of what you hear and see, and join with your partner in them.
- Consider seeing a counselor or therapist who can help you understand what you and your partner are experiencing and who can help you navigate this difficult time.
If you live in the Twin Cities, I am a partner in Rekindle Counseling and would welcome working with you. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at 952.806.0014.