My Husband Wants To Separate Due To His Midlife Crisis. What Should Or Can I Do?

By: Leslie Cane:  I sometimes hear from wives who tell me that their husband is starting to show signs of a mid life crisis. Sometimes, he exhibits silly and troubling behavior like trying to dress hip, getting a new car, or getting what he thinks is a hip new hair cut or way of speaking. He may show some interest in working out or looking his best, or doing new things that he thinks are exciting while he still has the chance to do them. This can feel like a rejection sometimes, especially if he seems particularly distant, cold, or not as receptive to you, your marriage, or what you stand for. But some husbands take this even further and will come to believe that their marriage, their wife, or their life as it currently exists is holding them back or slowing them down. Sometimes, they will go so far as to ask for a break, separation, or eventually even a divorce.

I recently heard from a wife who admitted: “ever since my husband turned 45, he’s become obsessed with the way that he’s living his life and how much time he has left to enjoy it. He started going out more, working out more, and has picked up new and crazy hobbies like skydiving and motorcycling. When I bring this up, question him about it, or show concern, he tells me that I don’t understand and that I’m refusing to grow with him. I am not opposed to him growing or being happy, but I also have no interest in trying to reclaim my youth or act in silly ways. Apparently, we can’t just agree to disagree on this because my husband takes this to mean that we can’t be happy together, thanks to his new life style. He told me last week that he wants a separation because he just doesn’t see us living happily together since we have different outlooks and values. What I really want to say is that we have different lifestyles because he has decided to go and have a midlife crisis, but I can’t say this. My kids are embarrassed of the way that their father is acting. And I don’t want to break up my family or get a divorce. I wish there was something that I could do to make him see that all of this separation talk is merely because he wants to restore his glory days which have long passed him by. What can I do?”

I get a lot of emails like this. Sometimes, it’s the husband writing and sometimes it is the wife. But no matter who it is, it involves a spouse who has become cold, distant or who wants a break or separation because of a “mid life” crisis or change in lifestyle or values. Many of the spouses are looking for a way to make their spouse see that this phase is going to eventually pass and not worth giving up their marriage and their family over. When my husband and I separated, it was pretty obvious that he thought of being married as something that kept him from having fun. So I have a definite opinion on this, which I will share below.

Even If You Know For Sure That Your Husband Is Having A Mid Life Crisis, You Don’t Want To Continue To Make That Accusation Because It Will Make Him Defensive: We might both know that men of a certain age have what is commonly known as a mid life crisis. And, the signs of it can be pretty clear. One day your husband might be the guy that you have always known and loved. And the next day, you might be looking at a silly stranger that is trying in vein to hang on to the last shreds of his youth. It can be frustrating to stand by and watch as this happens. In fact, sometimes it is downright embarrassing. But, here’s the thing. While his behavior might be so very obvious to you, it often is not nearly so obvious to him. And no one wants to admit to themselves that they are being an old fool who is acting in ways that are embarrassing to those that they love.

But when your husband’s mid life crisis no longer becomes that awkward and uncomfortable little phrase but crosses over into a threat to your marriage, you can find yourself in a position where you can no longer just sit back and idly watch. You feel the need to call his attention to his behavior in the first step toward saving your marriage. This is understandable. But you also need to understand that he probably isn’t going to want to admit what is happening to him. Once you use the “mid life crisis” phrase, he is very likely going to get defensive and might hurl an insult or two back at you. And worse, he might start to see you as the old stick in the mud who is trying to stand in the way of him having a good time. He may think that in order to really enjoy his life, he has to get away from you . That’s why, while you are waiting for this mid life crisis to pass, it’s important to prove to him (and yourself) that he can still have fun with you.

Try To Find A Compromise That Is Acceptable To Both Of You: One serious problem with this situation is that both people can feel like they are having to pretend to be someone that they are not in order to live in harmony within the marriage. The husband might think that the wife wants him to put a lid on the enjoyment of his new lifestyle. And the wife can feel as if she suddenly has to pretend to be the life of the party or to enjoy youthful pursuits that she might have enjoyed twenty years ago but finds absolutely silly today.

These two lifestyles can seem at odds at one another when you look at them with a first glance. But many couples are able to find a happy medium. You know the phrase opposites attract? Well, it can be true here. The couple can take turns doing things that the other enjoys. It wasn’t going to be the end of the world if the wife climbed on the back of the motorcycle ever once in a while simply because she loved her husband and wanted to spend time during something he enjoyed. And, the husband could concede to spend quiet evenings at home sometimes for the sake of the family. These kinds of compromises create balance and can ultimately create spice.

And if your husband still insists on wanting a separation even when you are making these concessions, then you might want to offer to give him more “space” while still he is still living at home. This way, he’s still at home and hopefully will be once this whole mid life crisis business begins to blow over.

The Mid Life Crisis Doesn’t Always Last Forever: Wives often ask me when or if the midlife crisis is going to be over. Sometimes, it does blow over – at least to an extent. This sort of a crisis is usually a man facing his own aging and mortality and his response to the feeling that life is passing him by. So he’s trying to make some changes in order to live his life more fully. Of course, he can still live his life fully and remain married to you. And this is what your behavior must show him.

If nothing else, use this as a catalyst to spice up your marriage a little bit and add some excitement to your life. In that way, this troublesome time would have actually made an improvement and positive change in your life rather than bringing detrimental changes your way. Try to see this as an opportunity to examine your own life and what you want out of it. Because if you can, then perhaps you can both make some positive changes and compromises in your life and within your marriage.

As I said, when my husband and I asked for separation, he say me as someone who was standing in the way of his carefree happiness. So I had to find a way to make compromises and fast. If it helps, you can read about how I saved my marriage on my blog at

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