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Going through Midlife Crisis as a Couple

Therapy for midlife crisis, counseling for couples in midlife crisis, couples therapy for midlife issues, couples counseling, crisis therapy, Midlife Crisis Counseling for Midlife crisis with Carolina Counseling Services North Fayetteville Office Fayetteville NC

Going through Midlife Crisis as a Couple


Many things can be stressful in life, but they can become more taxing when they take place in the context of your most intimate relationship – marriage. There are various issues a couple can experience within marriage. It may involve happiness, success, mobility, failure, illness, or death. They all bear on a couple’s experience of midlife.

Regardless of where or when you began your marriage journey, you are likely to end up in unfamiliar territory in midlife. Whether you plan together, calmly submit, support each other’s fear of aging, find a way to compromise, or endure each other’s change of life, your midlife is influenced by how your spouse reacts. His or her midlife crisis also becomes yours.


The Thing Called Midlife Crisis

Midlife is a stressful time for marriages. Known as midlife crisis, the term connotes a personal confusion and physical or emotional changes. It involves a lot of emotions as a natural part of the aging process. In marriage, it is a form of emotional transition during the entire period of being married.

Couples in middle age (40 to 60 years) are undergoing a period of emotional turmoil when there is a strong desire for change. Between these years, one or both spouses reach the realization that some of their dreams are not going to be fulfilled. This leads them in trying to recapture the glory of their early years or to chase their dreams at the expense of their marriage. Whether it is a hobby, career, or friendship, it becomes an obsession that takes the place of their marriage and family.

In the past, midlife crisis was an issue with men and associated with the fear of death. The definition, however, expanded to incorporate the issues and concerns confronted by both men and women in response to various aspects associated with aging. The crisis may occur slightly different across gender, but no one is exempt from it. You may notice that you want to lose weight or hang out with friends more often. If it is the other way around, your middle-aged partner has a new sports car and you suspect the man to be having an affair with a younger woman.

One of you may realize that you are nearly halfway through your life, feel unsatisfied with your experiences, and know that there is not enough time left to enjoy life the way you want. Depending on whose middle life crisis it is, a spouse can have a lot of questions and wonder if the present state is all life can offer. This may trigger the flowing of emotions, which may sometimes lead to desiring more out of it.

Some couples in midlife crisis do not recognize themselves anymore or who or what has become of them. Some may ask themselves the reason for staying married so long until finally deciding to conclude it and live a new life. For many couples, midlife crisis can be a very complicated situation. It may warrant the intervention of a professional to help couples during midlife crisis to prevent the negative effects.


Causes of Midlife Crisis

Midlife crisis is a trying period for middle-aged couples. It is usually about accepting loss on many levels as far as being a couple is involved. For many, the illness of aging parents, the sudden death of a contemporary, retirement, changes in appearance, menopause, the empty nest, etc. all work together to trigger one’s thought of mortality and the passage of time. For others, it brings about a true “crisis” that can cause them to commit certain actions that can destroy their marriage.


Here are some common factors often viewed as behind the crisis:


  • Lack of contentment – The lack of fulfilment in your relationship and your failure to reach your personal goals or not having a career to enjoy can leave you feeling unhappy.


  • Comparison – You or your spouse may try to compare yourself to people who are more successful than you. Whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues, you may feel inadequate, self-conscious and regretful. As you go “soul-searching,” you tend to focus solely on yourself while leaving your spouse and family behind.


  • Exhaustion – You may be enduring your daily routine, but you are already running out of energy. Exhaustion may push you to the limit until you can no longer function. Midlife crisis occurs when you feel aggravated and frustrated for not being heard or appreciated, while your partner tires of hearing about the same miseries from you. It can escalate from there.


  • Empty nest – As you reach your middle age, so the children who are now either in college or married themselves. The empty nest syndrome amplifies the fact that the relationship was emotionally anchored upon the goal of nurturing the children. Midlife crisis occurs when there is nothing in common to hold you together anymore.


  • Physiological changes – Both you and your partner go through hormonal changes that can contribute to depression, lack of affection, and others. It is not surprising for these changes to transform the relationship. Physiological changes, such as an endocrine disorder, can be attributed to a sudden change in behavior. The symptoms may include depression, anxiety, and other emotional health conditions.


  • Unresolved emotional issues – Many couples that get married, carrying with them emotional baggage and issues. In the frenzy of married life, not all issues have been addressed and resolved. Some are “swept under the rug” and can return as you grow older. The spillage turns out to be too intense in midlife, especially if one or both of you refuses to take responsibility.


As divorce rates drop across different age groups, the rates doubled among people in late midlife. This suggests that changes occurring in midlife may have a contributing role in the decision of married people aged 50 or older to divorce. Second to extramarital affairs, midlife crisis is the most common cause of marriage breakdown.

The reality of midlife crisis may be difficult for one or both spouses to comprehend. Some may experience emotional or behavioral health issues for a time. Experiencing life as it passes rapidly and already half gone can feel overwhelming. Midlife is the time to ponder on issues such as life purpose, aging, death, legacy, sense of fulfilment and adequacy, and other deeper meanings of life. Some may resort to avoiding their partner in order to dodge the reality of these issues. For some, it may be beneficial to seek support to overturn the effects of marital overwhelm with counseling.


Signs that Midlife Crisis is Destroying Your Marriage

The condition itself has no list of symptoms that applies to an individual with midlife crisis. Although it is not a disease, midlife crisis is accompanied by a variety of emotional health issues, such as anxiety, stress, and other negative feelings related to age, aging or death. People experiencing midlife crisis may try to stave off the feelings of grief or anxiety by focusing their attention on activities or things that will recapture the fun of being young.

The effect of midlife crisis can be devastating to a marriage and cause the relationship to dissolve. This is not an easy time for any couple, but the unfortunate thing is that the one who is going through midlife crisis will vehemently deny that the condition has completely taken over their system.


Here are some of the symptoms present:


  • Regrets – You find many reasons to feel sorry about being married, or why you’re not in love with your spouse anymore.


  • Frustration – There seems to be no fond memories of your partner at this point in your marriage. All the problems you had and are having now are because of your spouse. You are always told what to do and never do what you want.


  • Lack of interest in partner/family – There is a loss of interest in intimacy, or just generally in the affairs of the family. Conversely, if there is a renewed interest in your physical relationship, it may serve as a warning signal about the presence of another woman or loss of confidence in the overall bond. It may also be a sign of depression.


  • Emotional withdrawal – You want to separate or run away from all the “madness” – the incessant questions, crying, nagging, yelling, accusations, etc.


  • Focus on self – You feel dissatisfied with your appearance and start being conscious about becoming older. The obsession may drive you to buy yourself something nice you have always wanted but never had before. You feel you deserve them.


  • Infidelity – Feeling regretful about your married life, you begin to wonder how different it would turn out if you were with another person. The boredom of the years of marriage may trigger the desire for romantic attention, so you may test the water to seek a new partner. Having an affair may be a way to validate yourself.


  • Need for extra privacy – If you are already in an emotional or physical affair, you may feel the need to have some private moments to answer phone calls, send text messages, or receive emails from “some person.”


  • Confusion – You are not really sure if you want to go on with life without your spouse. You know your partner can continue to have a happy and fulfilled life while you feel miserable. One minute you are affectionate, the next, you are cold. After moving out, you come back later with weak alibis.


  • Vices – You have been brought down with non-stop “issues” or “responsibilities”, so why stop feeling good? If you are already in an affair, you are sure that someone else may help you run away from the irritations. If not, maybe you can engage in new interests, or do something, such as abusing substances to divert your attention.


  • Arguments – You thrive on upsetting your spouse to provoke an equally mean or hurtful retaliation. This includes child custody and derogatory remarks about appearance or in-laws.


  • Blame game – You do not want your major faults to surface, so you grouse over trivial matters, such as petty grievances or maligning your partner’s family and friends.


  • Unforgiveness – Even if your spouse put an effort in to change for the better, you remain angry and hurting. You think it is too late to make amends and there is nothing that can be done to change things. You just want to move on.


  • Sudden impulsive decisions – Making sudden and life-changing decisions, such as relocating, selling the house, a new job, or asking for a divorce, etc. are hallmarks that midlife crisis is damaging your marriage.


Resources for Midlife Crisis

You have probably heard about a few couples who separated or got a divorce after decades of marriage. Many marriages do not even last until midlife. If yours has successfully reached this stage, midlife crisis does not have to be a struggle in your marriage. It does not have to end or continue without repair.

Marriage is a journey. Just as you embarked on it together, you need to face midlife crisis together as well. It is a journey to the second half of your relationship. Precisely because it is an unknown territory, midlife crisis can be greatly facilitated with the support of a professional. Meeting life transitions and challenges as a couple can be possible with the help of the right fit marriage therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC.

Yes, marriage or couples counseling is an extremely powerful outside resource that can help re-define the challenges, transitions and opportunities during this important phase in your married life. The techniques and strategies to be learned can help you regain balance in your life during this very trying time. With help, you can ultimately arrive at your destination, maybe a little older, but a lot wiser.

Call, text or email CCS – North Fayetteville Office – Fayetteville, NC at 422 McArthur Road, Fayetteville, NC, near Ramsey St today to schedule an appointment.

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Fayetteville, NC (North)

Counties: Cumberland, Bladen and Sampson Counties, NC

Areas: Fayetteville NC, Ft Bragg NC, Pope Field NC, Sliver City NC, Linden NC, Bunnlevel NC, Erwin NC, Dundarrach NC, Rex NC,and Wade, NC

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422 McArthur Road, Suite 2
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  • Becky Clark, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Anxiety, Depression, Individuals, Couples, Geriatrics, Criminal Justice, Stress Management, Loss and Grief related to death, disability, divorce, deployment, “empty nest”, retirement and other major life transitions
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