The scene is all too familiar: a middle-aged man, suddenly wearing unusually bright colors, driving a car he can’t afford, doing a sport that his joints can’t afford. Everything about him is oozing newly found energy and passion for life, but underneath it all, bitterness and regret occasionally peek their ugly head. Yes, it is the mid-life crisis and you are in for a ride. Whether it will be a fun one or a disaster is up to you.
Even though a mid-life crisis is a very personal struggle for all of us, other people in your life are directly or indirectly involved in it. If your partner is going through a mid-life crisis, here’s what you should try to do to help them and yourself come out of it happier:
- Give up the need to Control
- Create healthy boundaries for Both of you
- Use the chance to get close
- Be supportive
Give Up The Need to Control
First of all: Breathe. Yes. Just breathe. Some things in your life you simply cannot change or control. The same goes with people. Even if you are married to them: in the end you cannot change, influence or control your husband and his midlife crisis. And you shouldn’t. That would be extremely unhealthy for both. So, while he is exploring the long forgotten passions of this youth (and you pray that it is fishing instead of base jumping) just breathe.
Create Healthy Boundaries for Both of You
Create safe space for both of you to find a middle ground. And the word “space” is key here. Not a gap, not an abyss. Give breathing room to your partner to handle all of the questions, doubts and newly rekindled fears, and offer a helping hand. But don’t be suffocating, or overly focused. There should be enough space for both of you to survive the crisis.
Use The Chance to Get Close
Join in. Yes, as crazy as it seems, the pursue of the things that you once wanted but forgot under the pressure of daily obligations is not bad for either of you. Go back together to the dreams of youth and re-dream them, together. You both should be wiser and more experienced by now. If this is not possible, and the things you wanted as young are completely different it’s ok too.
Show support and understanding. Although often filled with funny episodes, if not handled correctly, a mid-life crisis can lead to bitterness and the next stage of life is not going to be fun. Often people do not manage to find their purpose in the context of the middle of their life, and end up forever lingering in the realm of “the old times” when everything was better.
The middle of life is the time for reflection, but it is also time for looking ahead. The future you is built right now, and your future relationship is also built right now. Whether it will be a future of real sharing and togetherness or of distance and resentment is up to both of you.