We often think that a midlife crisis is something that primarily affects the individual who’s experiencing it. As a result, we don’t pay enough attention to how a midlife crisis affects the spouse or the marriage itself. While the partner in the midst of a midlife crisis is busy looking for meaning and purpose, the other partner is left holding the bag.
The symptoms of a midlife crisis vary person to person. Typically, there are a handful of common midlife crisis symptoms which are particularly damaging to the marriage. Let’s explore what these symptoms are and how a couples retreat can quickly resolve these issues and get your relationship back on track.
What Is A Midlife Crisis?
A midlife crisis is an emotionally turbulent period of time, usually between 40 and 60 years of age, marked by a strong need for change. At the root of this desire for change is the fear of not having lived one’s life that haunts life. By middle age, many people become acutely aware of their own mortality. This is when we start noticing our bodies growing weaker, our elderly parents battling illness, and children leaving home to begin their adult lives. A midlife crisis is a response to these factors. It’s a time when we see and feel time passing by and are inspired to grab missed opportunities or relive pleasant experiences “before it’s too late”.
The Desire to Reclaim Your Youth
Although people experience midlife crises differently, the most common symptoms reflect a need to satisfy the desire to feel more alive or young. In fact, socializing with younger people, staying out late, and increased risk taking are all hallmarks of an attempt to relive the wild and carefree days of your youth.
You are at a higher risk of a midlife crisis if you feel like you never had a childhood. If your early years were marked by abuse, trauma, or the burden of responsibilities beyond what is age-appropriate. So if you were robbed of a healthy childhood, you are more likely to try and create one for yourself later in life.
5 Midlife Crisis Symptoms Which Affect Marriage
While there is a wide range of midlife crisis symptoms, here are 5 of the most common ones which can be most harmful to a marriage.
- Infidelity: Whether it’s a physical relationship outside your marriage, one or more one night stands, or an emotional affair, you’re breaking the trust that’s foundational to your romantic relationship with your spouse.
- Excessive spending: Gambling, overindulging in recreational shopping, and spending sprees beyond what you can actually afford are financially irresponsible behaviors.
- Sudden career or lifestyle changes: Quitting a job without a backup plan, taking a job in another state or country (or one which requires far more travel than before), or moving to a drastically different environment can be highly disruptive to the relationship.
- Religious or spiritual shifts: Taking a deeper interest in religion, abandoning or developing a strong interest in a spiritual practice, or becoming far more (or less) observant than before can create conflict and resentment between you and your partner.
- Mood and behavioral changes: Depression, social withdrawal, irrationality, impulsiveness, anger, boredom and irritability are just some examples of mood and behavioral changes in midlife.
The symptoms above, as well as many others, can create a lot of issues in a marriage but it doesn’t mean that your relationship cannot withstand them. With awareness, compassion and the willingness to work on the relationship, you should be able to weather the storm of the midlife crisis and emerge closer and stronger than before.
How A Couples Retreat Can Help You Through A Midlife Crisis
As unsettling as a midlife crisis may be, it doesn’t necessarily mean divorce is the only solution. And while some couples prefer to deal with their relationship on their own, many find that getting professional support is far more productive and informative.
A couples retreat (also sometimes called intensive therapy) is an effective tool for navigating a midlife crisis. The retreat accomplishes two goals – it provides clarity and a deeper understanding of problematic behaviors and gives both partners a roadmap to rebuilding their relationship.
Intensive therapy is the faster and more productive way to address marital difficulties. You quickly gain insight into the causes of the midlife crisis and their underlying emotions. In fact symptoms become clear in the first couple hours of a retreat. Spouses often have a great deal of empathy once they understand the reasons behind the problematic behaviors. This allows the couple to move forward.