Movies and chick-lit novels are filled with women in their forties or fifties who are newly divorced because their husbands ran off during a midlife crisis. Usually, the husband leaves his family for a much younger woman and what he hopes will be a much more adventurous life. But is this scenario realistic? Do you need to fear that your husband will have a midlife crisis that ends your marriage?
According to a recent article at PsychCentral.com, you may have a lot less to worry about that you think.
Dr. Larry Bumpass, PhD, is a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin Madison who also heads up the National Survey of Families and Households. He says that there are about 40-plus characteristic behaviors and changes during a man’s midlife crisis, but affairs and divorce aren’t necessarily among them.
Sure, we all know somebody who left his wife for his secretary when he was 45. But men leave their wives when they’re younger, too,” says Dr. Bumpass.
Dr. Bumpass’ research actually shows that the longer your marriage, the less likely it is that your husband will have an affair or ask for a divorce in midlife. In fact, a recent study at the New England Research Institute by John B. McKinlay, Ph.D. revealed that only 2 percent of almost 2000 middle-aged and older men reported having more than one current sexual partner.
Experts in midlife psychology say that midlife is more transition than crisis for men and that if they have the right support and encouragement, it can be a time of growth and exciting change. Many men make career leaps, trading in drudgery for their real passion. Others go back to school, or take a stronger interest in travel, their health or community outreach.
If you feel that your husband is in a crisis, talk to him about it openly, but with compassion and understanding.
See if there are specific things he wishes he could change about his life, his health or his job. If you’re not able to talk about it, but you see signs of trouble, you may want to look into counseling. However, if midlife or its possible crisis is still ahead on the horizon, try not to worry about it. It is not a danger zone for an otherwise healthy marriage.