Surviving a male midlife crisis
Note: This is the second of a two-part series.
It’s not enough to know that male midlife crisis can lead to inappropriate hostility, criticism, passive-aggressive behavior, cynicism, affairs, an unhappy marriage, family desertion, impulsive job changes, monetary loss, poor investments, low self-esteem, drug abuse and alcoholism.
You have to also know what to do about it.
The following is a list of coping skills and survival strategies gleamed from Gaye Courter and Pat Gaudette’s book “How To Survive Your Husband’s Midlife Crisis” (Perigee).
If you are a woman coping with your man’s midlife crisis:
– Don’t knee jerk with reactivity too soon. Listen thoughtfully to him: it may be difficult to hear what he is saying.
What is underlying his words? Is he telling you he feels neglected and unloved? Is he really looking to leave you, or to just make some changes? Could you assist him in coping with and making sense of his feelings?
– Remind yourself that anger hurts you more than him. If you control your anger, you control yourself. Don’t let anger become a way of life for you.
– Plan to give the relationship your best shot ” no matter what he does.
– Take care of yourself ” mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
– Take care of your children. They can be the unwitting victims of your internal anger.
– Don’t jump to the worst conclusions. In the heat of the moment, we tend to think the worst will happen.
– Use words carefully ” they are hard to recall.
– Avoid alcohol or non-prescription drugs. They won’t help.
– Be responsible for your own actions and quit trying to be in charge of his.
– Write a list of what you appreciate about him ” and add to it whenever you can. Then regularly tell him what you appreciate, admire, like and respect about him.
– You may not be able to stop how you feel, but you can control your actions and your words.
– Keep an optimistic, positive attitude about the relationship and about the future. It can be very infectious and stabilizing.
Don’t lose sight of what brings you peace of mind, joy, hope, fun, personal fulfillment and close human connection in the myriad other areas of your life outside your primary relationship.
– You might find it useful to visit http://www.midlifewivesclub.com Many people have gone through this experience and there may be compatriots out there to lend you aid and emotional support.
Advice for men
If you are a man dealing with your own midlife crisis:
– You need to answer these questions: What have I learned? What do I value? What do I hold dearest in my life? What am I willing to do to keep what I value?
– Spend some time thinking about what you want besides a potential other woman. She is a symptom for what else what might be missing in your life.
– If you have kids, give them plenty of attention, and join in as many activities with them as possible.
– Monitor your consumption of alcohol, which is a depressant, and will interfere with your sleep. Also ration your coffee and colas, and stop at noon. These may not have bothered you in the past, but our bodies change.
– Give something back to your community.
– Make a list of what you want to experience, accomplish or achieve before you die, and then live your life trying to actualize those goals.
– Look at what you like, love, respect and admire about yourself and where in life you feel you’ve been successful.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Boulder and Denver. Call him at (303) 758-8777, or e-mail him from his website http://www.heartrelationships.com
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