A midlife crisis is a period in life where one starts to assess all aspects of life, from achievements, career, family, and character. This is often experienced by an individual who is between 35–60 years old. The age range is different for men and women.
This is the period when a person can experience prolonged exhaustion, grief, or stress. Some people, at this phase, prefer to have a good and carefree life rather than worry about responsibilities.
At the beginning of a midlife crisis, you must prepare for your future plans and what you will be doing. The plans and decisions you make will significantly impact your life and the people around you.
A midlife crisis is a personal transition with uncomfortable indicators such as detachment and reckless actions or thoughts. Here’s what you should know about midlife crises.
Causes of Midlife Crisis
Married couples experiencing a midlife crisis suffer a great deal that they reach a point where they consider divorce. Wanting to have a new partner, a new and better career, a better house and car, or a new life, in general, are the possible underlying motives for wanting a divorce. With the desire to turn a new leaf, you think divorce is the answer that will make you feel better, and your problems and regrets will disappear.
Suppose you think that experiencing a midlife crisis alters your current situation. In that case, you should also consider that it greatly affects your mental well-being and the whole family. Knowing the possible causes of midlife crises is a good way to prepare for these events. Here are some of the causes of a midlife crisis:
1. Death of a Loved One
The loss of a loved one causes extreme sadness and denial. The inability to accept death will cause intense stress and anxiety. Death could also be a trigger to question yourself if you had lived a good life before you yourself move on to the afterlife.
2. Physical Changes
As a person gets older, their physical appearance will gradually change. You may start to see some wrinkles and loose skin. Your hair may grow thinner. So many changes can occur that would make you feel half of the person that you were. You start wishing that you were young again.
If you cannot accept these changes, you will feel frustrated if you cannot do something about it right away. Those with money will opt for cosmetic surgery. But what if you don’t have the financial means to do so? This can cause stress every time you see yourself in the mirror.
3. Career Setback
Fresh from college, you dream of a good job that will give you a good life. You gradually move up the corporate ladder and be able to live the good life you always dreamt of. But, what if your expectation for a job promotion, big project proposal, and alike don’t become a reality?
You will start to ask if you made a mistake or what you did wrong. You had high expectations from yourself that by this time in your life, you would already be successful. These setbacks can cause extreme stress on you.
4. Family Relationship
An individual who is career-driven suddenly realizes their relationships with their partner and children are distant.
You are no longer sweet and intimate with your partner. Your children are no longer kids but full-grown adults with families of their own. You start to feel alone and confused. This confusion and hurt can cause stress and self-doubt.
Signs of Midlife Crisis
Since the midlife crisis is not a certified diagnosis or condition, it is challenging to study. The signs will depend on the person’s response to whether or not they are experiencing a midlife crisis.
Most of the signs of a midlife crisis are emotional. These are observable in the person’s change in behavior. Below are some of the signs to watch out for:
1. Feelings of Nostalgia
Nostalgia is the excessive longing to return to your previous life. You tend to look back to when you were younger and wish you could turn back time.
You could talk about the past version of yourself with much eagerness. Thinking about the past years brings you temporary joy that eventually turns into prolonged sadness.
2. Emptiness and Boredom
After running on a fixed schedule and living in a routine for what seems like 20–30 years, a person may appear to have lower motivation, drive, and passion for living. You will feel empty and bored just thinking about what you have to do. You are no longer that passion-driven and purpose-oriented individual that you once were.
3. Discontentment with Life
You look at your present life and compare it with your friends. You start to feel inferior about your life. At this point, you begin to feel envious of other people’s achievements. Unhappiness and regrets begin to creep into your mind.
4. Drastic Change in Attitude
Persons experiencing midlife crises have frequent mood swings, heightened anxiety and anger, unreasonable outbursts, and the tendency to make hasty decisions.
5. Infidelity in Marriage
In marriage, the subject of a marital affair is not taboo. The revelation of an affair is a common marriage problem and can break a husband and wife, causing emotional pain to the couple. There will be major trust issues, although not all marriage ends in divorce. If the couple is genuinely committed to reconciling, their marriage can survive and thrive.
Going Through a Midlife Crisis
In a span of 5 years, about 33% of those who had divorced said that they regret their decision to file for divorce. If the reasons for divorce aren’t abuse and incompatibility, there is a high chance that the couple will regret getting a divorce. Some regret their decisions and realize that they should remain married.
The feeling of regret itself is not damaging. Regret is normal and is felt by every single human being. If the feeling of regret is regulated well, you can use it to see your past mistakes as an opportunity to be better.
Divorce is not the result of a failed marriage; instead, it results from a spouse’s selfish desire. When one starts to have feelings of regret and asks the scary question, “What if,”things can go downhill quite quickly. Here are the six stages of midlife crisis to ponder:
6 Stages of Midlife Crisis
- Denial. This is the first stage, when individuals deny to themselves that they are growing old.
- Anger. This feeling surfaces when a person becomes frustrated about not being able to manage this crisis.
- Replay. This is the stage when a man or woman recalls the time when they were younger and at the peak of their youth.
- Depression: An individual may become depressed when stage 3 replay fails.
- Withdrawal. As a defense mechanism, an individual who is depressed will distance themselves from their family and friends.
- Acceptance. This stage is when the individual finally accepts that they are aging. They then seek meaningful opportunities to enjoy this new phase.
How to Deal With Midlife Crisis
In general, midlife crisis is a temporary phase in a person’s life. Not everyone goes through this phase.
This phase doesn’t represent the whole picture of a person’s work and accomplishments. For men, this stage can last around 3–10 years, and for women, 2–5 years. Here are some tips on how to handle and cope with a midlife crisis:
- Spend more time meditating. You should give yourself some sense of relaxation. Peace of mind will help you create a positive outlook on your current situation.
- Be creative and think outside the box. You could join art clubs and make friends. This can seriously release you from all the stress and negativity.
- Consider that it is about time to change for the better. It’s about time you make major changes in your life. So many success stories have been written about people rising above their frustrations, regrets, anger, and negativity in their midlife.
- Be thankful for your marriage, spouse, and family. You should be grateful that you have grown well with age, have a promising career, and have good health.
- Limit your screen time and social media exposure. Try to focus more on building a better relationship with your partner and family. At your age, see if you can search for ways you can bond with your family. You can travel more and do more memorable things together.
- Reconnect with family and friends. It is about time to stop regretting and believe that life is good and that this crisis is only a temporary phase.
Divorce is one of the most devastating crises one can experience in their midlife. The good news is divorce during the midlife crisis can be avoided.
The couple should set aside their personal opinions and have a healthy conversation about their marriage and relationship. As husband and wife, they should remember the promise of commitment they made to each other in marriage. Divorce does not have to be the ending of every rocky marriage.
The couple should acknowledge that they are both in the midlife stage and experiencing varying levels of emotions. They should support each other in this troublesome phase. It would also be best to seek counseling or guidance from a therapist.
Everyone has hang-ups in life and regrets in their midlife crisis. The regret of most individuals experiencing midlife crises has a lot to do with the disappointment that they did not live a good or full life. They feel they were untrue to themselves and lived a life based on the approval of others.
Do not focus on what-ifs. This will only bring confusion and self-doubt. Rather, focus on the beauty and wisdom that comes with getting older. Remember, age is just a number.
Don’t Give Up
You should not give up on your partner and marriage. If possible, do not think of divorce as the solution to your midlife crisis. Instead, see the phase as a good time to reinvent yourself and become your best version. The right therapist can offer support and sound advice.
Kentucky Counseling Center, an online mental health counseling site, offers the best resources and services on marriage and divorce therapy. Deal with your regrets after a midlife crisis and talk to a therapist. Come out from the ashes of your failed marriage and divorce. Call now and book an appointment.