Is your marriage on the rocks? Is your wife acting up? Are you suspecting that your hubby is cheating?
So what is going on? These are among the telltale signs that he is entering into the midlife crisis zone, according to a relationship expert.
Matrimonial consultant Sheela Mackintosh-Stewart has revealed the warning signs that indicate your partner could be headed fr the danger zone – and how to deal with them.
It comes after a new poll of 3,000 adults, commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics, found that turning 40 or 50 pushes many of us into ‘crisis’.
It’s a phenomenon that affects some 58 per cent of men in the UK according to a recent study. Here, Sheela reveals her five simple steps for saving your marriage.
‘Biologically, men experience a mid-life biochemical imbalance which manifests as a complex syndrome of emotional, psychological and physical changes and reactions,’ says Sheela.
‘Midlife crises are usually existential and triggered by an awareness of mortality and a re-evaluation of one’s life, perhaps at the onset of hair loss or death of a friend or parent.
‘”Super stressors” eg. feelings of “going nowhere” career-wise or serious job-related pressures and empty nest syndrome are also causes. Some men like Johnny Depp stray, leaving his partner for a younger model.’
1. Be proactive
‘A strong, understanding, nurturing wife and a strong marriage is the tonic for a man in mid-life crisis, so wives will need to step up.
‘Head-burying in the sand and waiting for the worst to happen before acting on it is not an option. A midlife crisis can hit from the late 30’s, often slowly over time, so don’t be blind-sided. Be focused and alert to any indicators of odd or rash behaviour.
‘Triggers include phrases “we’re drifting apart”; “I don’t know what I want”, “it’s not about you, it’s me”, “I feel overwhelmed, trapped and ignored” and “you deserve better than me” – all warning signs of discontent requiring action.’
2. Show him you are listening to him and his needs
‘Men can mentally and emotionally shut off when challenged with heavy emotional discussions. Avoid asking “why are you behaving like this?” or “is there someone else?’.
‘Instead, show him you are listening to his needs. Carefully choose words as hurtful ones are hard to recall. Use loving phrases, ‘I can see you’re struggling, tell me how I can help”. Ask him about one thing he would like to see improved (e.g. more time and space, a re-ignited sex life, getting finances under control), then brainstorm together on how to accomplish it.
‘By actively showing him you are on his side and team-working to make his life happier, you are setting the tone to help deal with his crisis, especially if things improve. Actions often speak louder than words.’
3. Setting clear boundaries
‘It’s easy to feel defeated and destabilised because you have little or no control. But, you can take control of yours and your family’s lives. Take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically and plan some personal ‘me-time’.
‘Striking the right balance by setting clear boundaries to meet both your needs is essential. He will be happier once he starts noticing changes and results and sees that he needs you and that he is better off team-working with you.’
4. Dealing with adultery
‘Adultery is a common occurrence, often leading to huge marital rifts and blame triggering divorces due to extreme feelings of hurt and betrayal. Midlife crisis is no excuse for bad behaviour but I caution against ‘divorce knee-jerking’ too soon, as affairs are usually symptomatic of neglectful marriages.
‘Take time to fully explore if your marriage is worth saving. Many divorcees I know regret and wish in hindsight that they didn’t try harder to save it. Many couples have successfully weathered the storms with stronger lifetime marriages.
‘If you jointly believe that your marriage matters and it is worth saving, then jointly commit to repair and make positive changes to your relationship. Address and alleviate underlying feelings of neglect and lovelessness. Acknowledging, accepting and forgiving our human mistakes is vital to rebuilding trust.’
5. Be present in your relationship and work on your life goals together
‘The sense of stagnation frequently lies at the heart of midlife crisis as he grapples with his life being a series of missed failed opportunities, aging and the looming threat of mortality. Personal fulfillment rather than family happiness can often be the sole focus.
‘Being married doesn’t give you a crystal ball into reading his mind about his wants and needs, as these often change over time. But focusing your energy on being the best person you can be will helping him to do the same is a must.