Contributing to your husband’s “mid-life crisis”?

midlifewebpixIt’s come to be an expected thing…sorta like the “Terrible Twos”.  Men will go a little crazy when they hit, say, 40 or 45.  What is that about?  First off, I don’t believe in the “Terrible Twos”…I think we have potential to be equally as terrible, regardless of age.  It just so happens that toddlers are getting a feel for who they are and what their parameters are, so it is “understandable”.  Because our society is sorely lacking in good parenting skills, we now have pre-teens who are still making this transition.  We have thirty-somethings who are still very much adolescents.  Yes, some of this is the product of Peter Pan syndrome…and a-musement encourages us to never grow up.  Indulge.  Play.  “Make hay while the sun shines.”

I’ve been thinking, though.  I wonder how we factor into this.  What typifies the man in crisis?  Sports cars?  Trying to appear hip?  Buying a Harley?  Enjoying the attention of younger “chicks”?  What this behavior says to me is that this is a man who is not content in his role.  He is not fulfilled in being “just Dad”, “dear husband”, “trustworthy employee”.  Where’s the sizzle in that?

I’ll tell you where.  It comes from you, dear heart.  How do you speak about him to your kids?  Your friends? Do you honor him?  Does he know it?  When he makes some achievement at work, how do you respond?  Do you praise him when he takes the kids for a day out?  Do you thank him for replacing the busted-out screen in the side door?  When he brings you flowers, or sends a card (or ecard), do you give a ho-hum reaction?  If so, shame on you.  Your husband needs affirmation, encouragement, vision, motivation.  You help him attain his goals by showing support and appreciation.  By learning him, and growing with him.

I hear you.  You are asking, “Well, what about me?  Don’t I deserve some credit, affirmation and appreciation too?”  Okay, first you need to determine why you are doing what you are doing.  If you married for what you can get out of it (or, exponentially worse–to “change him”), you’ll be disappointed often.  If you tied the knot to have a 50/50 partnership…it will fail.  Only when you view matrimony as a 100% commitment can you give when you do not get.  That’s agape.  That’s Christ’s love for you, after which you model your love for others.  He is the Source and supplier.  When you give like this, you may get back…maybe not.  This is what is well-pleasing to your Father.  If your husband does not give like this, then set an example.  Pray for him to be in the Word, so he is reminded of his unworthiness and bankruptcy before God.  Ask for him to have all the joy and satisfaction that his identity in Christ should afford.  Look for opportunities to continually bolster his confidence by showing your confidence in him.  Convey by your actions, reactions, facial expressions and speech that he is “all that”.  I believe numerous men go looking among the “young chicks” for what modern psychology calls an “ego boost” because they are not getting it at home.   Dish out some heapin’ helpin’s.  Help him to realize that it is very cool to be a great Dad.  It is gratifying and applaudable to do a solid day’s work.  And that he’s not only comfortable and stable…but also that it is exciting and intoxicating for you to be married to him. :)

If you’d like a way to encourage your husband, you might consider the “30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge” from Revive Our Hearts.  If you happen to be a husband, wanting to encourage your dear wife, I also found a “30-Day Wife Encouragement Challenge” here.

If there have been issues with sexual sin involved in your situation, you may want to look at a recent post entitled “Responding Correctly to Your Husband’s Sexual Temptations”…click here.

For some helpful resources on this topic, click here. For another follow-up post entitled “The Roots of Mid-Life Crisis” (with advice from biblical counselor Debi Pryde), click here.

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25 thoughts on “Contributing to your husband’s “mid-life crisis”?

  1. Ann says:

    Diane – while I hear what you are saying – it is an oversimplification. There are men whose wives honor and build them up, and have done so for years, who still have mid-life crises. That crisis cannot always be averted by the action of the spouse. The man sometimes goes “through it” by his own decisions and doing.

  2. Diane says:

    Ann, thanks for pointing this out to me. I can see how you would conclude this with the two words I used to end the post; however this was not my intent. As the title implies, I was pointing out how wives can “add fuel to the fire” and then contrasting it with how they might instead have a positive influence. I agree, ultimately this is the husband’s battle, and never is it “simple.” I think most Christian wives understand what it is to pray as I have mentioned (“crisis” or not) for the mighty working of the Spirit of God while we do what we can on the horizontal level. Thanks for the comment. I plan to amend my text.

  3. Diane,

    I’ve witnessed a few men go through “the crisis” and I felt like, in both cases, it was more work-related rather than family-related. In their jobs, they were seeing younger men come in and get promotions and accolades, while they felt washed-up and like they had nothing to offer anymore. In each case, I think the men had, basically, given their lives to their careers, even sacrificing other things, and they felt a little lost as they began to feel unneeded.

    I agree with you, though: A crabby wife could really add to a man’s feelings of worthlessness, and a loving, supportive wife could really bolster a man who is otherwise feeling defeated.

  4. Diane says:

    Hi Addy,
    I would go so far as to say that most of this is work-related. I don’t think women ever really “get” how important work is for a man, and how much of his fulfillment is derived from it. All the more reason to make home a real haven. I can’t do much except pray about Patrick’s work environment, but I can definitely try my best to make sure that home is a great place to be. My husband has had some really tough days when he has come in the door, held me, and said, “This has been the only good thing about this day.”

    As far as feeling lost and unneeded–that sounds a bit like “empty nest syndrome”, doesn’t it? Is that mid-life crisis for moms? :) In both cases, to derive one’s identity and sense of completeness entirely from one thing (job/kids) will, I think, result in feelings of worthlessness. God intends for our scope to be broader than this. Perhaps preparing for retirement (whatever that means–my husband says it means “being tired…all over again” :D ) is a bit more than only being financially secure. That’s worth thinking about.

  5. Josephine says:

    I need everyones prayers. I feel like crying. My husband is in a full blown mid life crisis. I do not know what to do. Sometimes the pain is so great. If anyone has any suggestions from experience, please let me know. How long does a mid life crisis last?

  6. Diane says:

    Josephine,
    Is your husband a believer? I will pray tonight for the two of you. If you prefer, you may use the email form on this blog (use the tab in the side bar) to reply if you’d like to discuss this more privately. I am certain there is no uniform “length” for this type of struggle. It depends upon the man, his battles, his resources, and, of course, the depth of his walk with the Lord. I will pray for you, that God would strengthen and uphold you so that you can be the support you need to be for your husband. Are you regularly in the Word of God yourself? This is so crucial for you. -Do you have a good church and/or some solid Christian friends who can help you (I mean mature enough to offer good biblical counsel)?

  7. coleen says:

    hi ,ive been married for almost 24 yrs and im pretty sure that my husband is in a full blown midlife crisis.Im a believer in God and i prayed a lot so i could survive this.i even finished the book the power of a praying wife.Its just such a lonely world for me because i considered my husband my bestfriend but now i could hardly recognize him because of his behaviours.Im still lucky though because my hub is still faithful,but his continous innocent flirtation with girls is killing me.he assured me that he wont make any move that will destroy our family he loves me so much.But i still cant understand why he enjoys flirting with girls in social sites…and told me that ive accept that because that makes him happy but he will never go overboard…how do i become insensitive and more open minded pls help me?

  8. Diane says:

    Coleen, Is your husband a believer? Those who have new life in Christ are to be driven by His love, which enables us to selflessly live for others:

    “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Cor 5:14,15

    Do you have a godly man (pastor, friend, family member) who could speak with your husband frankly about this? Biblically, he ought to be loving his wife (Eph 5), not leaning upon his own understanding (Prov 3:5,6) or yielding to his weaknesses. It is apparent that he is aware of what he is doing, and that it is hurtful to you. This is an obedience issue (to love his wife) and, as my husband has pointed out, also a contentment issue. We are never encouraged in scripture to trust our fleshly impulses, however “innocent” we may think they are. Your sensitivity is correct…you should not be dismissing it or attempting to become “open-minded” about it.

  9. Laurie says:

    My husband is having a mid-life crisis. He hangs out with birds of the same feather….who like to over-indulge in alcohol, smoke, and frequent strip clubs. He had an affair over a year ago and while trying to work on the marriage, he still wants to keep his personal life private from me. He blames me for just about everything that goes wrong is his life. He does not have a sense of balance with work, demanding parents, etc. All of that negativity spills over into our marriage. He has many good qualities which makes me want to make it work but at the same time I worry for me and my 3 children. He does not believe in religion and avoids people who would disagree with his desire for a seedy lifestyle….myself included. I pray for him daily but I am upset for the kind of role model that he has become for my sons. And as for my daughter….I do not want her to think it is okay to work things out with a man who clearly has no respect for himself and me. Yet I am torn because I believe that marriage is forever and “weathering storms” in a marriage can strengthen a marriage, but not by myself.

    I read what you wrote about making them feel good and giving praise for things that he does. I either email him, sent texts, or tell him directly to his face that I appreciate him. I pick up his favorite dessert, make special dinners, or try to make his life easier and now I faced with him blaming me for the reason why he stepped out of marriage and looked to someone else for comfort with his issues. This just doesn’t add up in my mind. Please help!!

  10. Diane says:

    Hi Laurie,
    You have probably read through the discussion on this post, so you already have some things to consider. I will emphasize that in each of these situations it is crucial that you as a wife know Jesus as your Savior. I am not talking about religion. I am talking about agreeing with what the Bible says about us in our sin, repenting and trusting Christ as your Savior, going on in your Christian life to read the Word, believe it, love it and obey it. Without this, true agape love (that selfless love that comes only from God) is an impossibility. God’s perfect design is that a man and woman come before Him to exchange vows having already made this paramount in their lives. That is what gives the ability to keep the “for worse” part of “for better, or for worse.” And, even then, it will still be a challenge, as we fight against our selfish desires every day.

    If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, then you understand how adept human beings are at blameshifting…how proficient we are at compromising, excusing, and outright dismissing the reality of our own weakness and sinfulness. Someone who has not been born again will naturally not seek the company of those who love truth and holiness. They will desire to hang out with others who do not remind them of their guilt, but rather help them to justify their behavior. What’s more, I am not surprised that your husband is pointing his finger at you. His understanding is skewed by the father of lies. It sounds like you are making an attempt to walk blameless before him and not provide any “ammunition” with which he might actually be able to justify his words. This is exhausting work…to continue on, being unjustly accused, loving without perhaps feeling loved, giving with little or no return…or worse. But remember (and I don’t say this tritely, please know) that this is what our Savior understands best. This last sentence describes His life’s work. He knows. Do you have some godly women around you to support you? Are you in a good, gospel preaching church? Will he allow you to go? Has he ever gone with you? Has your pastor or anyone from the church ever tried to visit with him? Do you take your kids? Your kids need this…they need the Savior, and they need to understand that fidelity to Him is more important than any earthly reward. Your husband needs to see this too. He needs to see that when you are patient, when you are selfless, when you are compassionate, when you do not lash out…He is the reason.

    When there is a marriage bond between a believer and an unbeliever, it is very difficult to get things to “add up”. It is outside of God’s design, so it will obviously feel “out of whack”. Now that you find yourself in this situation, healing is His desire. Remain if you are safely able (1 Cor 7:16) so that he will have your godly influence, to which he may not be exposed any other way.

    Very simply, sinners will behave like sinners. We should not be surprised at this, however unpleasant or heartbreaking the results. Your husband needs the Lord. He needs his life to be redefined in terms of the Cross. Until then, any clean up on the outside in the form of marital fidelity, sobriety, etc. will not have the Anchor it requires, and it will be prone to failure.

    Praying for you.

  11. [...] looking for information, resources and encouragement regarding mid-life crisis, as a result of this original post concerning how wives can help their husbands through the considerations of [...]

  12. Therresse says:

    Diane,
    The book Men in Midlife Crisis talks about the midlife crisis lasting from 3-5 years. The crisis, as a general rule, has five stages: denial, anger, replay, depression, and withdrawal. A true midlife crisis can cause extreme pain for the man and his wife as she is the one who is usually blamed for everything. Because my husband is going through this right now, I have done a great deal of research on midlife crisis, including talking to Dr. Jim Conway, author of the book mentioned above. At one point in the book he mentions that a man in midlife crisis may have one or more affairs. My husband is a Christian, but I have seen the very core of his being rocked. He is miserable over the grief he has caused his family, but this grief is not extended to reuniting with me at the present. The one piece of advice I have seen over and over again is that if the wife can hold on, the marriage can many times be saved.

    With that in mind, I would like those who are not experiencing this roller coaster ride, to try and think what it would be like to watch your Christian husband have an affair or a series of affairs, move out, begin to spend money unwisely, and drink to forget his problems. This is a very real problem. Pat answers are not enough. Women (and their husbands) who are facing this need incredible prayer support. One of the things that helps me is when friends ask me to do things with them. If anyone knows of more Christian resources regarding midlife crisis, please let me and the thousands of other women facing this problem know of them. In the meantime, please pray for us.

  13. Diane says:

    Therresse,
    Thanks for your input. As I said in an earlier reply, I don’t know that we can really impose time constraints on this. It is very fluid, depending upon the man, his issues, his resources, and his spiritual walk. For some, it never reaches the degree that you are currently experiencing. For others, it may reach even greater depths of self-destructive behavior, with numerous casualties in the wake. This is why I think it is paramount for wives in this situation to be nurtured and embraced. When a man reaches this kind of despair, he has nothing to give, and it is very difficult to give back without feeling exhausted and depleted unless your strength comes from outside yourself. A good church, supportive, godly friends and family, good resources…all are so necessary. Click here for some strengthening resources for women.

    The items I have made available are the best I’ve come across on the web thus far, and this was after some considerable picking and choosing. If anyone knows of anything else that is soundly, biblically based, I’m all ears. I’ve just been reminded of another possible resource, so please stop back by. I will pray right now for you and your husband.

  14. Julie says:

    I really like this information. I have printed the 30-day challenge and hope/pray in helps.

    Is there a daily inspiration and/or blogg to join?

  15. Diane says:

    There are many resources that can be found at http://www.reviveourhearts.com . They have a blog and daily broadcasts that can be linked to there. Enjoy.

  16. Lisa says:

    I really appreciate all the information I can get on this subject, so Thank You! But, I have some questions. I believe my husband is going through a mid life crisis. He lost alot of weight, he exercises like crazy and bought all kinds of new clothes. About 6 weeks ago, he told me he loves me, but isn’t in love with me and left a few weeks later. We’ve been married for 23yrs, he doesn’t want to do anything to work on our marriage, he feels there’s no way to ever get that feeling back again and I feel like I don’t have any choices. I found out he was interested in a girl half his age, which broke my heart even more. We’ve been through so much together and I didn’t have any idea there was a problem, he constatnly told me he loved me and talked about our future together. I don’t understand any of this and don’t know what to do. My heart is completely broken and I don’t know how to get out of this. I wish I could sleep forever until this pain goes away. The pain is so bad at times, I don’t know if I can go on any longer, mostly the pain in my stomach. It’s so hard to go about your life thinking this is your life, life is wonderful, you can love your husband, touch your husband, sleep together with your husband, kiss your husband to one day not being able to do any of it anymore, it’s over. Can anyone help me with this, any advice anything?

  17. Diane says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I am sorry you are having these painful challenges in your marriage. Your husband’s actions and sentiments tell me that he is not defining love the way that God does. God’s love (the love we are supposed to model ours after) is called agape love, and it is selfless. It gives without looking for something in return. We cannot do this on our own. From the sound of it, your husband is making selfish choices, and they are based upon emotion and faulty reasoning. The Bible tells us not to lean upon our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6).

    I think there needs to be a starting place in this that is going to guarantee real heart change. I don’t know if you read through any of the previous comments on this post, but if you take a look at what I wrote to Laurie and others, the same applies here. Real heart change has to take place with God’s help. Anything else is nothing more than putting a band aid on the problem, or turning over a new leaf at best. Anything that depends on a person’s efforts alone is bound to be flawed and has no sticking power. Are you a believer? Have you trusted Christ as your Savior? Has your husband? Do you have a good church where you are? I believe you need a pastor to sit down with…one who is there local and can meet with you, and hopefully with your husband as well. If you let me know where you are, I will be happy to make some suggestions. I’ve provided some good resources here on the blog (there are several posts on this topic), but to have someone with whom you can personally interact would be best. Please let me know how I can help.

  18. Cindy says:

    Jim Conway’s book “Men in Mid-Life Crisis” is excellent. I suggest you, number 1 seek God for his plan and guidance. 2 Read Jim’s book. An excellent source of encouragement and understand would be to read Francine River”s “Redeeming Love”.

    Pray continually.

    I too have gone through MLC with my husband. I love him and am trusting God for a total restoration.
    I have clung to the following scripture.

    “I am a woman clothed in strength and dignity who laughs without fear at the future.” Proverbs 31:25

    Blessings,
    Cindy

  19. Stephanie says:

    Hi Diane,

    I read on another one of your blog saying you have a CD that we can download for “Midlife Crisis.” would you pls provide me a link to it??

    thanks so much.

    blessings,
    steph

  20. Diane says:

    Hi Steph,
    No, I don’t have any CD’s…you have have seen some resources referenced in the posts that are available elsewhere. The type that appears to be pink is actually links to click on. Try that. :)

    Thanks for visiting!

  21. Jill says:

    I like Conway’s book with the exception of the stuff on affairs. As a wife of a man who had a two year emotional entangelment, I resent being told that it is good for me to have the competition so I realize what I have, and I resent being told I need to fight for him despite his utter disregard and disrespect for our marriage. I don’t want to be told I need to be a doormat to bring him back. I wonder when he will realize what he has put me through for two years with this other woman and it is not because I stink as a spouse, and I wonder when we place responsbility back on the starying men for maintaining and keeping their marriages when they have treated us like dreck. Christian humility does not mean being a punching bag.

  22. Larry says:

    I am an early 50ish man questioning this whole whole life process. Married for 24 years, saved for the last 12, with one grown daughter who was,born to my bride before we married. Adopted and as a young man struggled with the responsibility of raising a young lady, and chasing after the “success” of this world. I forfeited having more children because of their competition to my “success”, as well as my internal feeling of failure of the one I was now fathering. As the good grace of The Lord would have it, I did not achieve the monetary levels of success I was so passionately chasing, lest I would have been utterly destroyed … I believe this in my heart. I have been faithful to a tee throughout my marriage, and rarely felt any temptation to do otherwise. I recent times I have become close friends with a family with lovely girls who enjoined the friendship of my wife and I. Up and to this point, I was rather neutral on family until I got to know in my heart the love and trust these young ladies placed in me. Honestly, I am still overwhelmed by this experience and amazing responsibility. It is almost as our family, wife and I were literally grafted into theirs with all the mutual,acceptance that occurs in natural family. As time progressed so did my confusion about all of this stuff, I mean I would literally give my life for these girls, but my wife was not tracking with me. Obviously we have had had challenges over internal stories that were unfounded, but I also understand that for stories to come to life there must be some reasonable evidence occurring in my relationship to these young ladies. I love The Lord, and feel so called to remain a rock, and wife and I had discussed this with our pastor, and I confide in at least 2 deep Christian friends on very frank levels. Today we as a family are considering adoption to share our lives with some children of our own, through adoption. It seems to be the only project I work on that relieves me from my continual desire to be a kind of surrogate father. I said all of that to say this, I believe I am seriously struggling for significance on a horizontal plane and need some outside vision. While mywi recognizes this, empathizes with this, she is unable/unwilling to hold,deeper conversations with me. I talk to her a LOT regarding this, and it seems to me I may be doing more damage than good. But I also know that spousal communication can not occur in a vacuum. We are both believers and I do search the word daily for wisdom (not affirmation that I am right about anything). I do not want to lay this at the feet of my bride because I truly do not think she can fill the void I am seeking satisfaction in. I know I have never felt the love of a daughter until this recent experience and my heart is struggling on how to package it in harmony with my love for my bride. The accuser is continually trying to corrupt this all from one angle or another and this is getting absolutely exhausting. I love my bride, I, love these young ladies, and because of that I am absolutely committed to my wife and the purity of these young ladies. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome.

  23. Diane says:

    Hi Larry,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’d like my husband, who is a pastor, to reply to your situation if you are willing to talk with him. If you are interested, I’ll give him your info. Please let me know.

  24. Comfort says:

    I am tired! I am certain my husband is in a midlife crisis and he has confirmed to be having another affair and spending our hard earned money unwisely. Over the past years he has been a loving husband and father and one person who used to speak and advise others on the wrongs of infidelity. Through out our lives we have not belonged to any particular church but we are believers and used to pray together every day, he said he was not yet ready to join a church and that I should wait for him as we had planned to do this together. Now its all gone. The last time we prayed together was when he was struggling with infidelity during the first affair in in may 2013. But just as soon as he was over that affair he began another. This is not the man I married.

    With the way things are I would like to join a church as I feel it will help me get closer to God and for our 3 children to grow up in a Christian manner. I feel so lonely as he is usually gone and when he is around he is texting the other woman.

    I have been praying for God to bring him back and let my husband see reason, but I fear it is only getting worse judging from the way he is spending money. Right now God seems so far away. I believe I have been a supportive wife he was out of work for the past 1 year although he is now working he is not happy at work he says he would like a better job. i have been reading on issues of mid life crisis completed and followed the book The power of a Praying Wife, read and practiced Secrets of Fascinating womanhood, but my husband is still having the affair and does not seem to show any remorse.

    I would like to go to church and deep inside if I raise the question he will not agree because we had said we would do this together but he does not seem to be ready or ever will be.

    Please pray for my family and marriage which I have always believed was created by God.

  25. Diane says:

    Hello friend,
    I am so sorry for your struggles. I agree that you do need a church. Pardon me for this observation, but it appears your husband wants to choose selfishly, and if this continues he will not want to attend, much less join a church. I think you need to find one for the health of the remainder of your family. If you need help finding one, let me know. I have connections across the nation. The fact that your husband deliberately went from one affair to another shows he does not have remorse. Texting another woman in front of you indicates the same thing. Above marriage counseling, he needs to look at himself squarely in the eye, as God does. See himself for who he really is before a holy God, and repent…or trust Him as His Savior, if he has never made that choice. Having “the sorrow of the world” (2 Cor. 7:10 aka “I’m sorry I got caught”) provides no sticking power for resolutions. Sheer willpower can only succeed for a time, and sinful flesh will take over again. Our only real defense against sin is Jesus’ righteousness. Bear in mind that some realizations can only be achieved by God’s direct working. Nagging, pleading, trying to put a guilt trip on someone…they rarely work. The choice needs to be solidly his. Even Job came to this realization, when he finally saw God “eye to eye”.

    There is no hope for any marriage apart from the Holy Spirit working actively in our lives, helping us to keep all the “one another” commandments that require self denial.

    I will pray for you right now.

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