Many of the wives who read my articles believe that at least part of the motivation behind their separation is their husband's midlife crisis. However, there is always the worry that the midlife crisis has become a catch-all for most unhappy husbands. Nonetheless, some wives rush to put their husbands in this category because it offers an easy answer. But how do you know if your husband is actually having one?

A wife might say, "my husband abruptly left our home and declared that we are separated. I should probably use the word 'abruptly' more carefully. It's not as if I didn't know that my husband was restless. His unhappiness was fairly obvious. However, he did not even suggest counseling or try to address our problems. He just acted like being married to me was suddenly intolerable when we've had a stable marriage for a very long time. One of my girlfriends suggested that my husband left due to a typical midlife crisis. I am not sure if I buy this. My husband is one of the most steady, practical people I have ever met. Yes, he seems irrational and impulsive right now. But I am not sure if it's right to blame his wanting to separate on a midlife crisis. How do you know if this is why your husband left?"

Unless he is willing to admit it, I'm not sure if there is any way to know for sure, but there are most definitely clues (which I'll list below.) Most husbands will deny that they are having a midlife crisis because this is considered an embarrassing part of aging. However, men of all ages can be affected. And whether men want to admit it or not, this type of identity crisis is an extremely common motivation for separations. Below are clues that your husband may have separated from you at least partly due to his midlife crisis.

There Are No Other Obvious Motivations: Vague unhappiness usually does not cause a husband to abruptly pursue a separation or to move out. Typically, he would give you a chance to rectify the situation or work with you to improve things. Many couples separate due to very identifiable issues like infidelity, money problems, and decreasing intimacy. If you can't pinpoint an easily identifiable trigger, then a midlife crisis is definitely still on the table.

He's Showing Mental Health Symptoms: I'm not implying that a midlife crisis is a sign of mental illness or depression. But many men who experience a midlife crisis DO exhibit symptoms that are similar to someone going through a mental health issue. Examples are things like sleeping too much or too little, experiencing depressive or euphoric thoughts, and exhibiting impulsiveness or indifference. Sometimes, men are aware that they are struggling, but they say nothing because it is not considered masculine to discuss this. Other times, men do not notice these changes in their behavior or feelings.

He's Self Medicating: Many men who are having a midlife crisis will suddenly start drinking or using other substances. Even if they were social drinkers before, you might suddenly see them drinking much more often. Sometimes, when you bring this to their attention, they will tell you to "lighten up."

He Craves More Excitement: It is normal for everyone to want something to look forward to. But men who are having a midlife crisis will often crave adventure or new experiences. He may suddenly call the job that he once loved "boring" or may reject experiences that used to bring him comfort. He may suddenly want to travel or take up new or extreme sports.

He Increasingly Cares About His Appearance Or The Condition Of His Body: Men who are having a midlife crisis will often start working out or embrace a new diet. They may suddenly care about their clothing or want a new hairstyle. Sometimes, they do this to shake up their life. Other times, it is due to thinking about aging or their own mortality. Unfortunately, men are also more vulnerable to an affair during this time period.

He's Dissatisfied: Any man who pursues a separation is unhappy by definition. However, a man experiencing a midlife crisis is often dissatisfied in many areas of his life. It's not just his marriage that is causing dissatisfaction. It may be his friends, his extended family, or his interests. A man who has always been easy going may suddenly appear to be a critical person who is never truly happy.

When You Suspect He Left Due To A Midlife Crisis: It's very tempting to confront your husband or to point out that he's being ridiculous, but someone having a midlife crisis isn't likely to listen to your concerns to take your criticism seriously. In fact, they are often quite defensive and will dismiss you or become angry. Many wives do nothing and hope that this is a phase which will pass. Sometimes, that works. Other times, this phase never passes or it fades only after a man is already divorced.

The better strategy is to try to join him in his quest in a way that is acceptable to you. For example, if he suddenly wants to travel, see if you can go along. If he wants to try skydiving, what is the real harm? It can also be helpful to try to boost his self-esteem since a midlife crisis is usually a response to self-doubt. (I know this might be challenging if he is acting like a jerk.) It can also help to try to listen to him if he shares his concerns and feelings.

It's tempting to poke fun at a man in a midlife crisis, but in truth, this is often someone who is struggling. And this struggling man is your spouse. As best as you can, try to approach him with empathy.

If a midlife crisis is one of the reasons that he left, recovery is similar to other types of separation. You try to communicate openly so that you can reconnect. You try to gradually but definitively solve the problem. And you try to strengthen your marriage so that your eventual reconciliation will be successful.

In the meantime, take care of yourself. Sure, he's struggling, but you matter also. I learned this the hard way during my own separation. Once I strengthened myself, I was much more successful in saving my marriage. You can read about how I saved my marriage at

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