Taking Control During Your Spouse's Midlife Crisis Part II

Make no Demands, Focus on Yourself and Restore Your Marriage

Mature couple in kitchen, arguing
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Learn How to Communicate Effectively With a Midlife Crisis Spouse


In part one of Taking Control During Your Spouse’s Midlife Crisis you learned about the virtues of patience, how to navigate limbo land and hold on tight during the roller coaster ride. In part two you will learn about communication, keeping your demands to a minimum, focusing on yourself and what happens if the marriage is restored.

Your Best Defense is to Become a Good Listener:

Your midlife crisis spouse wants to hate you. In fact, he/she needs to paint you as the bad guy in order to justify their bad behavior. Defending yourself against their negative comments will get you about as far as peeing into the wind. Defending yourself against their nastiness only makes you that much worse a person in their eyes.

Your best defense is to become a good listener. That is right; I’m encouraging you to learn to listen while someone tells you you’ve been a bad wife or lousy husband. The motive for doing nothing but listening is to keep down conflict. The less conflict between the two of you the less ammunition he/she has to use against you.

As difficult as you may find it you need to listen and then validate when the midlife crisis spouse is sharing their negative opinions. Make the following 5 tips a habit during communication:

1. Listen,

2. Validate,

3. Acknowledge what is said,

4. Tell them you are sorry they feel that way,

5. Apologize for things that warrant an apology.

You will have to give up your need to be heard and give over to their need to be heard. Everything is about them and their crisis. Like I’ve said before, the midlife crisis spouse has no concern for you and your pain so don’t expect any concern.

If your goal is to restore the marriage this will be the most difficult part of navigating your spouse’s midlife crisis. There will be many things you would love to say in response to the negativity but you must resist. Returning their negativity with negativity will only cause your spouse to withdraw further.

You Have no Authority Over Them and Their Beliefs:

Due to your spouse’s midlife crisis you have no power or clout over their belief that the marriage should end. You do have the ability to influence, though. How you respond to the crisis can and will go a long way in persuading your spouse that the marriage is worth saving.

You are not in a position to make demands on your spouse. If he/she moves out you can’t demand they come home. If he/she is having an affair you can’t demand they end the affair. There, I’ve said it, you will have to put up with behaviors you never thought you would if the marriage is to survive.

Only You Know When Enough is Enough:

It is up to you and you alone how much bad behavior you are willing to put up with. If an extra-marital affair is too much to accept it is your right to set boundaries with your midlife crisis spouse. It is your right to file for a divorce and remove yourself from a marriage that is too painful.

I’m not encouraging anyone to accept the unacceptable. As an individual, only you know what you can and can’t “put up with.”

Someone experiencing a midlife crisis needs space. They need time to process their thoughts and feelings and yes, that time may include the company of another man/woman. There isn’t much you can do about the behaviors your spouse is choosing to engage in. You either accept it and hope the marriage survives or move on.

Do This And You'll Make the Situation Worse:

There are things you can do to make the situation worse. Making demands, asking questions, constantly interrogating him/her about where they are or who they are with is a sure-fire way of causing them to withdraw further into their crisis.

If your objective is to save the marriage you will need to develop a new approach to handling marital problems, one that is the opposite of how you would normally approach such situations.

This can mean talking to a support network of friends and family about the problems. It can be something as simple as going for a long walk or run when you feel the need to vent your frustrations. Whatever helps you approach the situation differently, do it.

Stay Self-Focused:

As I suggested in part I of this article, you need to get busy living your life. It is essential that you find ways to make yourself happy. Easier said than done, I know but your mental and physical health is at stake. The more focused on his/her behavior the unhealthier you will become.

What good are you to yourself, your children and your marriage if you are not functioning at your best?

The biggest adjustment you will need to make is finding joy in life without the person you are accustomed to sharing life with. Your spouse has chosen to put your marriage on hold, you cannot respond by putting your life on hold. I suggest you write done the steps you need to take daily to make your life fulfilling with or without your spouse.

This is a time when maintaining a sense of autonomy and being able to self-govern is imperative. Below are 10 tips that will help you maintain your equilibrium and help you feel good about life and yourself during his/her crisis.

1. Write daily in a journal about the good things you experiences that day.

2. Invest some time getting in touch with your spiritual side.

3. Have fun with your children.

4. Learn something new by taking a course or tackling a new hobby.

5. Spend more time with positive, uplifting friends and family.

6. Join a health club and workout regularly.

7. Eat a healthy diet.

8. Watch comedies, laugh often.

9. Make a list of positive affirmations or bible scripture that gives you hope in the future.

10. Talk to a therapist regularly who is can help deal with your confusion and pain.

Give up Your Need to Fix Your Spouse:

Your spouse will have to find their own answers and solve their own problems. Showing him/her articles about midlife crisis won’t help. Demanding marital therapy won’t help.

Heart-to-heart talks won’t help. Transitioning through the rocky path of midlife is a trip he/she will take alone, all you can do is be patient, take care of yourself and hope for the best.

You can’t teach a baby how to walk before it crawls. If you have children you are experienced in standing back and letting them progress at their own speed. In the same way, you are going to have to stand back and allow your spouse to find his/her own way. Letting go and detaching are tools you can use to help you work through your desire to fix the problems for him/her.

Restoring the Marriage:

If your spouse is able to successfully navigate his/her crisis and the marriage is restored expect a bumpy road to begin with. You’ve possibly been dealing with infidelity, you’ve had to put your feelings on the back burner, you will be relieved but also full of your own negative feelings about the pain your spouse has caused. You will need time to heal before the marriage can get back to “normal.”

Healing could mean marital therapy, working with a marriage educator or your clergy. Trust will have to be rebuilt along with the new marriage the two of you will engage in.

If you have done as I suggested then you have changed. You are stronger than you were before his/her crisis, more independent and used to being on your own. You will have both changed and will need to figure out how those changes can be incorporated into the marriage moving forward.

Focusing on the fact that you have both come along way and made positive changes internally and externally will help make the transition for crisis to new marriage smoother. You have reason to be proud of yourself and your spouse. You’ve both handled a time of adversity and come through better people and that will go a long way in building a new, loving marriage.

Things to Remember:

  • Don’t push your needs off onto your midlife crisis spouse.
  • Don’t insist on relationship talks.
  • Don’t pry and become obsessed over what he/she is doing or seeing.
  • Work on yourself
  • Change what needs to be changed about your attitude and behavior.
  • Seek therapy with or without your spouse.
  • Distancing yourself with go way further than making demands and pushing for resolution to the problem.