Dear Inside His Head,
My husband seems to be having a mid-life crisis. He’s always restless and suddenly wants to go out to bars and hang out with his friends a LOT. He hasn’t bought a new car yet, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s next!
He just seems to be a little unhappy in general and says he doesn’t think he’s in the right profession, wonders what’s on the horizon, just generally acts like his life isn’t what he expected it to be by this age. Maybe he’s depressed? Do you have any ideas for how to talk to him about this or should I just let him ride it out and not intervene?
GRAY: I’ve seen many guys hit 40 and start acting strange. Some impulsively buy a convertible sports car, some have an affair and abruptly divorce their wives, some leave the success they’ve had with their job to venture in a new direction.
But the majority of men simply have a period where they flounder about and wonder: “What the heck am I doing?”
We spend the first 30 years of our life figuring out who we want to be when we grow up and by the time we’re in our 40s we start asking ourselves “Is this all there is?”
The things that used to bring us excitement or satisfaction have become mundane and lost their luster.
But with this boredom is also the dawning realization that we may not have a ton of time left in our life.
So on one hand we can feel like our life is pointless and routine and mindnumbingly boring and on the other hand almost feel panicked that we’re running out of time to figure out what we’re really supposed to do. I mean, we can’t possibly have figured out everything already, can we?
And, yes, this is often interwoven with depression, so be mindful of it and if the depression seems severe or if you feel he might be suicidal always take action and seek professional help immediately.
Many studies show happiness drops in our 40s and picks back up in our 50s, so know this isn’t an uncommon pattern. Keep the channels of communication open to understand what he’s going through and recognize that although many of his new habits may disappear with time, he may be changing who he sees himself as being and be prepared to grow along with him.
At the heart of the issue is often trying to rekindle happiness in our lives and what makes people happy can sometimes sound odd, like trying to relive our youthful days or suddenly becoming obsessed with our appearance or wanting to change our profession.
So listen and ask questions and hopefully it will help your husband from overwhelming his own mind and literally turning his perceived lack of purpose into a crisis. Just be aware of what’s on his mind and be patient as he works through things, but don’t necessarily intervene or push him in one direction or another.
Be present and loving and hope it passes quickly and for the best.
MAVERICK: Everybody goes through periods where they feel a little bit like the world is passing them by. Men in particular, when feeling nostalgic, or antsy or generally unsatisfied, seem to get tagged with the “mid-life crisis” label.
I’d suggest listening and being supportive if he wants to try and break some old patterns.
The big thing is not to make any drastic changes.
A new job might be in order, but not a career change. A vacation might be nice, but don’t let him pick up the family to homestead in Alaska. Joining a boxing gym could be good, but not selling the house to become a cage fighter at age 40.
I’d also encourage anything that gets him more exercise, lets him spend time outside or gives him the chance to master a new skill or foster a neglected talent. It’s even better if the activities let him spend more time with his guy pals or meet some new ones.
You should see this as a chance for your husband to better himself, expand his horizons and maybe, just maybe, end up a little bit happier with his life.
What have you got to lose? Just keep him away from the Harley dealership.