The Top 10 Signs of Midlife Crisis
In an article I wrote about midlife crisis in men and male menopause, I talked about how the crisis in mid-life is mostly a psychological one.
Of course, there are also very real physical issues that men face as they age, like loss of hair, weight gain, loss of strength and energy as well as reduced testosterone levels (ADAM, otherwise known as Androgen Deficiency in Aging Males) or Andropause.
Many men fare quite well despite the physical realities of the aging process. They may have created a lifestyle that has helped them stay physically fit, healthy and upbeat.
Fear of Loss of Youth and Death
However, even those men who feel good as they age can fall victim to the fear that their mortality is inevitable and they are getting closer to it.
Facing midlife and the often existential angst it can bring can be challenging for a man.
His spouse may not see the signs right away or read them correctly, as male menopause is more gradual then female menopause.
Spouses take note because what follows are what I believe are the top ten signs of a man dealing with a midlife crisis.
1. Increased Irritability/Anger
Here we are looking for a departure from what has been your spouse’s typical behavior. Even if he has always been a little edgy and excitable, you may now notice this behavior intensifying and him becoming more angry. He may yell at the children more often, blame you for things that he finds annoying or even become irrational when you bring something to his attention.
2. Depressed Mood
Sadness, expressing dark or grim views of things or even withdrawing from you and your family are signs of depressed mood. Even if he has always been a little on the negative side you may notice an increase in this type of behavior.
3. Decreased Energy and Lack of Interest
This type of behavior can be part of the depressed mood. What he once enjoyed doing he no longer has any interest in pursuing. Even work has become tedious and boring for him. He may no longer want to go out to dinner with you or with friends. He may prefer staying home, perhaps just staring at television or lying around rather than socializing.
4. Fear of Disease and Dying
Sometimes a man becomes far more concerned about getting a disease or dying than what would otherwise be considered normal. He may become worried about these things and want to discuss them. On the other hand, he may also become so fearful of them that just bringing them up in normal conversation can provoke his anxiety.
Previously sure of himself he has become more indecisive and apparently afraid of making a decision. His judgment has become clouded. He may vacillate, not having enough confidence in himself to make a clear decision, he then procrastinates. He can miss deadlines or opportunities as a result.
Contrary to the previous sign of indecisiveness or procrastination, the man in a midlife crisis can suddenly become impulsive. He may want to buy a new car, change his job, color his hair, move to a new location or even get a divorce.
7. Preoccupied with His Appearance
It is often at this time that a man, struggling with the loss of youth and the vitality he once had, becomes preoccupied or even obsessed with his looks. If he is balding, he may try to arrange his hair to disguise his baldness or get a hair transplant consultation. If he is overweight, he may try dieting and exercise to lose weight so that he can buy new clothes and look better. He may stand in front of the mirror much longer than before and ask you how he looks more often than he used to.
8. Preoccupation with Sex
Few things worry a man more at this time in his life than his ability to perform sexually. He wants to feel renewed, youthful and more alive through the thrill that sex affords him. He may have previously been disinterested in sex but now he has become fixated on it.
If you and your spouse have not focused much on sex at this time in the relationship, you may find his renewed interest a little uncomfortable or simply surprising. If you are not adventurous sexually, you may also find him expressing disappointment or dissatisfaction with your sex life together.
9. Disinterest in Sex with You
This is generally a troubling issue for a spouse. You may have been trying to have sex with your husband but have found him to be disinterested or even rejecting. He may say he is too tired or stressed or worried about things. If he has been showing signs of depressed mood and lack of energy then you may consider this a passing phase that, with the proper help, will improve.
However, if he has been improving the way he looks and taking steps to become more appealing you may have reason to be concerned about the next sign.
Unfortunately, midlife crisis can give rise to infidelity. The man, in search of his lost youth and vigor, may seek the company of a woman (who may or may not be younger) who somehow makes him feel more alive for a while. This is often something that passes and turns out to be a grave mistake, from which he, or his family, may not recover.
Recognizing the signs of midlife crisis can help you put things in perspective at this difficult time in your marriage.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. His work with men includes helping them work through life changes as well as performing at higher levels while creating a better balance in their personal lives. He also works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.