Does mid-life crisis threaten marriages?
Before discussing or understanding whether mid-life crisis in any way hampers a spousal relationship, it is crucial to first comprehend what mid-life crisis is and what it implies. It is a stage of life when adults begin to realize their own mortality and that they are almost approaching it, having come past halfway. Sometimes, it can be triggered by certain particular incidents such as physical ailments, unemployment or not being satisfied with one’s career path, children leaving home etc. It mainly prompts a person to reassess his/her own life in terms of what he/she had dreamt of, to begin with. This often results in a desire to make significant changes in the core aspects of one’s life, career, marriage, romantic relationships, physical appearance, major investments etc.
A person going through mid-life crisis usually assumes that their life is going to be eventful, but in a negative way, and also often envisions that their life is drastically nearing a decline. They frequently experience feelings of remorse, humiliation, disillusionment, inferiority complex, etc. They also might feel a desperate urge to get back their youth or to spend a solitary life. As a consequence of these feelings, the individual usually manifests certain behavioural patterns, such as alcohol abuse, depression, acquisition of a fetish, paying special attention to physical appearance, entering into relationships with younger people etc.
Millions of men and women usually battle this strange phenomenon called ‘midlife crisis’ while they are in their forties or fifties. The feelings of dissatisfaction that arise are usually not in the best interest of themselves or their families. Research has shown that the majority of marriages that hit the rocks are a result of midlife crisis, and in more cases than not, it is mostly the man who goes through the emotional change that puts the marriage in an endangered position. In such cases, when a marital relationship starts deteriorating, it is advisable to go for midlife crisis treatment and divorce counselling if need be.
Mid-life crisis often instigates the man to look for romance outside his marriage, and his extra-marital affair threatens his marriage. The man, feeling bored, trapped and discontent, pursues an adulterous relationship, which in turn, tarnishes the trust within a marriage beyond repair. Also, when going through midlife crisis, either of the spouses tends to stop communicating with the other. This gives rise to bottled-up resentments and grudges which only serve to widen the gulf between the married partners. Such self-centredness breeds nothing but ill-will. Further, a person in the midst of a mid-life crisis is prone to making impulsive expenditure and reckless extravagance, mostly in luxury items such as bikes, sports cars, etc. indirectly creating stress in his marital household. He mostly overlooks the couple’s financial future while spending irresponsibly. Depression symptoms might also accompany midlife-crisis, which of course, has an impact on marital life. People who suffer from depression are usually unable to convey emotions or resolve conflicts in a productive way. This again can lead to marital discord that might put a marriage at stake.
However challenging this period might be, couples can brave this stressful phase of their lives if they are committed enough to continue their relationship. A lot of issues can be sensibly handled if discussed in an open, peaceful way with a positive intention. It is very important to restore the lines of communication. Also, the couple should try to address the midlife crisis itself, finding ways to regain self-confidence and get a more fulfilling life by caring for each others needs. Last but not the least, if the couple feels that divorce is the last resort even after help from friends, family and marriage counselors, they should part ways on the most mature terms possible.