Mid-Life Crisis Symptoms, Signs, and How to Save Your Marriage
When you picture someone going through a midlife crisis, you may picture the stereotypical things such as a man buying a new sports car, getting hair implants, or changing up his wardrobe for a more young and modern look.
You may also envision a woman getting plastic surgery in order to look more youthful, finding a younger man to please her, or getting a new hair color.
These cliche signs may seem ridiculous or extreme, but sometimes they aren’t far from what typically happens; although, there are also other more subtle signs along with internal turmoil such as negative or hopeless feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
Despite the media’s exaggerated portrayals, an actual midlife crisis is not as dramatic as it seems but unfortunately can still affect lives.
To be clear, midlife crisis is not a clinical term nor is it a mental health diagnosis.
This fact does not invalidate the feelings, thoughts, and emotions one may have when going through an adjustment period in their life.
You may be feeling some type of way about getting older or you might be married to someone who is exhibiting signs of having a midlife crisis and struggling.
Either way, your marriage can be negatively impacted.
Even though going through an emotional midlife crisis is typically a normal process in life, the severity and intensity of symptoms can be a warning that something more serious has developed, such as depression or anxiety, that needs to be treated by a professional and not ignored.
What can trigger a midlife crisis?
Anyone can go through a midlife crisis, but it is not inevitable.
Some people are more susceptible to going through one.
For instance, someone who is in a marriage and has discovered that their spouse is having an affair may be triggered by this knowledge and more likely than a happily married person to begin having certain thoughts and feelings surrounding life.
Some other things that could cause thoughts and feelings associated with a midlife crisis:
- Another birthday
- A death of a friend or loved one or a fear of death
- Being single and/or childless while those around are not
- A career change
- Societal appearance expectations
- Changes in the body
- A fear of aging
- Feeling of hopelessness about the future
After someone is triggered into having a midlife crisis for whatever reason, there may be obvious signs, but those signs may also end up being very subtle and covert.
Marisa has been dreading turning forty.
Throughout her thirties she often went to the gym, took care of her skin, and ate well in hopes of keeping herself looking youthful.
As the years progressed and she got closer to forty, she began to feel panicky.
Anxiety set in and she began overthinking her appearance, what others’ opinions were of her, and began dreading menopause, gray hair, and the extra body fat associated with a lower metabolism.
Turning forty greatly affected Marisa’s mental state and mood.
What are the signs of a midlife crisis?
According to the Mayo Clinic, midlife crises often resembles traits of depression.
Here are some of the warning signs that can be used to identify that there may be an issue:
- Exhibiting weight gain or loss
- Feeling apathetic or losing interest in things
- Changes in sleeping habits that affect productivity
- A sudden obsession over appearance
- Detaching from friends and family
- An increase in the use of alcohol or drugs
- Changing careers, interests, friend groups, etc. on a whim
- An increased or decreased desire for sex
- Leaving a spouse or having an affair
Tim just turned 52 and has recently begun an affair with a much younger woman and has begun to dress differently.
His wife notices that he has changed the type of music he normally listens to as well as spends a lot of money on clothes and accessories for himself, when in the past he did not care about those things.
Tim is overtly expressing the signs of a potential midlife crisis.
How can a couple deal with a midlife crisis?
Acknowledge the crisis:
If you notice that something is amiss with your spouse, communicate with him or her and ask what is going on.
Acknowledge that there is an emotional crisis going on and validate your spouse’s feelings.
Understand that going through one is not bad:
Dealing with the emotions and thoughts associated with aging is not unhealthy.
All of your feelings are valid and aside from how the media portrays midlife crises, there isn’t anything wrong with going through one.
View life differently:
Someone going through a midlife crisis can feel trapped in their situation and feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety related to getting older or major life changes.
Instead of trying to change your body, hair, lover, interests etc. while attempting to avoid the aging process, change your attitude about life.
Seek out new interests and activities with your spouse, read a book about embracing yourself as you age, reflect on and appreciate your past, journal about reasons why getting older is good; find new meaning to life.
Spice up your sex life:
Seek out new ways to get creative in the bedroom.
Explore and be adventurous together.
And if you’re unsure about it all—read a book together, take a class, or listen to a podcast.
There are various ways to learn more about sexuality and sensuality and how to spice things up.
Seek professional help:
If depression, anxiety, or obsessive thoughts become too much to handle, seek out a professional that is trained in helping couples with this type of situation.
Strategies, interventions, and perhaps even medication can help individuals and couples to cope.
Remember that the term midlife crisis is overused and there is a huge stigma from the media about what one should and will look like.
Every person and couple is different and will go through life emotionally at their own pace with their own expectations and reality.
Going through emotional distress or having a sense of confusion about where you want your life to go, at a particular time in your life, does not make you a weak or bad person.
There are ways in which you can overcome negative effects and roadblocks in order for you to continue having a healthy and happy marriage and life.
ALSO SEE: How To Fix A Marriage
ALSO SEE: How To Save A Marriage
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