His Midlife Crisis … a Personal Experience

Healthy marriage advice from a woman on the other side

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  • Written by
    Laurie Mcdermott

“I spent the night at Tom’s!”

“When did Tom take residence in the Marriott?”

Many men have had or will face a midlife crisis. Some do it with quiet grace, a new Jaguar or a Winnebago trip around the USA. Others take on a young, unmarried, pimply girlfriend from work—with nothing but time, energy and lack of humanity to fawn all over your beloved.

To say I was devastated is putting it mildly. But I faced this issue like I face many problems in life. I went to Google: “What to do about a midlife crisis?” “How to stop a midlife crisis?” and “How to poke the husband with a metal pitchfork so he bleeds for days and won’t die?”

After 15 years of marriage plus another six of dating, I was not going to give up on my man just because he went nuts. He was a good guy, we had a great marriage, and we had (unlike many marriages) good sex! Yet the last 18 months were life-changing: the death of his dad, his brand new tyrant boss and, of course, the death and demise of his ultimate role model, Joe Paterno from Penn State.

The life changes in him were slow. First his obsession with growing his hair long. Then the declaration, “I’m getting tinted windows on my Prius!” And then “Dad nights” with married men were tossed for bar romps with divorced/single dudes.

I watched in horror as my always-do-the-right-thing man of honor reverted to an all-about-me 16-year-old teen who hunched his shoulders and dry-heaved at the slightest mention of commitment or paying the mortgage on time.

How Does This Happen To a Good Guy?  

Simply put, it’s male menopause. And while most men skate through unscathed, the men who came from dysfunctional families and/or have had developmental problems growing up get hit hardest, even when their marriages seem happy and intact. Because when you haven’t matured correctly, when faced with an age (40 to 60) that’s climbing closer and closer to death, all the weak infrastructure from childhood becomes exposed and creates havoc. That’s why they act like teenagers … because they think they are!

What Can You Do Now?  

Understand/feel compassion. While he may seem like the devil’s stepson, he is going through an internal hell. Get out of his way so he can grow up alone; that will get him out of his fog sooner.

Give him all the time and space he needs. (Moan here …)

Stay busy. Take care of yourself and your kids. Make yourself go do fun things. Learn your mistakes in your marriage (who is perfect?) and learn to be the best wife/person you can be for him or for the next one.

When talking to him, you must remain calm, happy, supportive, positive and neutral. (It’s so hard to do, but if you want to stay married, this is your dance.) Do not let him see you sad or angry. Say nothing negative. Even laughing or making fun of his immature actions will cause him pain. Yes, I know he’s giving you pain … but trust me, after he’s through this crisis, wait five years, take out a wooden paddle and whack him on the ass for doing this to you!  

Therapy helps. For both of you. Just be sure to find a marriage therapist whose goal is to keep marriages together (ask, because some do not have this goal). Both of you see this person solo until you are ready to move forward and repair the damage he’s done.

Keep good buddies. Get a group of five to 10 friends whom you can call to yell, scream and freak out about what your husband is doing. Also let them know that when this is over, you vow to listen to their woes without speaking for the next five years.

Realize this crisis of his won’t last forever … six months to five years, hopefully. And no matter how much you whine, complain or protest, his journey will end when his journey ends. Acting insane (like him) will only make you look foolish and possibly have him run away when his crisis is over.

Being a shining light of comfortable, steady positivity for your man in crisis will have him thanking you for years to come.  Remember, we all make mistakes. Have hope and faith that when he comes out of his fog, you can rebuild your marriage to a place that will be better than before!

And if it doesn’t work and you do separate/divorce, all this work you have done on yourself—to be the best friend/partner you can be—will put you that much ahead when ready for a new mate!

Don’t give up. Too many people let ego win and then just give up.  If you love him, until divorce papers arrive, you are still married. Don’t let this crisis win. Be that wife he married when you first met. She’s in there … bring her out and let her live again.

If you have any midlife stories you’d like to share, please contact Laurie at [email protected].

Laurie McDermott is an award-winning comedian, travel writer and host of thelifeexpert.com.