Is My Spouse Having a Midlife Crisis?

You’ve heard the term of a midlife crisis but you may be living it for the first time.  There’s no one definition of how a mid-life crisis manifests, but it is defined as being “an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age.”  The stereotype of a mid-life crisis of a Husband is showing up with a toupee and a convertible, or a Wife suddenly discovering a new set of friends that excludes her husband, is not how your spouse’s midlife crisis can manifest.  Mid-life can occur any time from 40 – 60 and for men is most often triggered by dissatisfaction at work and for women from re-evaluating personal goals.

These crises often manifest with strong emotions and a change in interests that can be shocking.  Sometimes it’s a new car, other times it’s taking up golf or dancing and sometimes it can be an obsession with exercise, a ‘new’ body or romantic interests.

For the spouse not experiencing the sudden new interests, it can be very disconcerting to see your wife rapidly losing weight or your husband blowing his bonus on a corvette, but there are a couple of things to remember.  First, no matter what your spouse says, this really isn’t about you or your relationship with your spouse.  Most midlife crises are prompted by a long, slow dissatisfaction with personal issues like work or “should I have been a stay at home mother”?  You not only are to blame, but you cannot fix what is going on.   Second, some crises are in fact triggered by underlying mental health issues such as the never-before diagnosed mood disorder, long-term depression, or even gender dysmorphia.

Things to look out for are when a spouse starts spending money as though there is no tomorrow, or hiding money, or having an affair.  All these actions can be devastating to a marriage and hard to fix after the fact.  If you suspect this is what’s going on, you are well advised to take steps which can include protecting your assets and your credit, and talking to a mental health counselor or an attorney.