I sometimes hear from people who are dealing with a spouse who has become cold, distant, and "confused." People are sometimes quick to label this as a mid-life crisis, but it can happen at any point in a person's life. Typically what you will see is that your spouse will suddenly no longer feel confident that the life they are living fits them. So they may start to question their job, their lifestyle, their goals, their spirituality, and yes, even your marriage. This can be a hard process to witness. No one wants to see their spouse struggle in this way. And when you love someone, of course, you want to help them. But it's often not clear how you can do this.

Here's an example of a comment that I might get about this situation. "for the past eight months, my husband has been going through something very difficult. His company sent him to this 'best life' seminar and ever since then, he's been questioning everything about his life. Honestly, it's like he all of a sudden hates his life. Suddenly, he isn't sure that he wants to work in sales anymore. He thinks that perhaps he was meant to be an artist. And now he isn't sure if he wants to be married anymore. We were going to try to start having children next year, but he no longer wants this because he feels that he wants to sort himself out before we do this. In fact, he isn't sure if he even wants to be a father now. Lately, he's started hinting that he wants a separation. I feel as if his new awakening is going way too far. I understand wanting to be the person that you were meant to be, but everyone has responsibilities and there are realities of life that you can't just shrug off simply because you want every day to be perfect. How can I help him with this confusion so that he can have his regular life back and not be so unhappy?"

Why It's Important To Be Careful Right Now.  He Could Mistake Your Help For Meddling: This is a very common concern. I hear about it quite a bit. It's not unusual for a spouse to begin to examine everything in their lives (including their marriage) and then to just begin to discard some of them. Of course, the fear is that they are going to discard you or your marriage. So, it's quite understandable that you want to help him to sort through this as soon as is possible. But you have to be very careful here. Because sometimes, he will see your help as meddling. And because part of the examination and change involves you and your marriage, he may question your sincerity. He may assume that your version of "help" includes trying to manipulate him or trying to make him settle for less than what is his best life. Please know that in no way am I implying that you don't or can't make your spouse happy. I'm trying to show you what you might be up against. If he thinks that you only want to help him because you want to manipulate him, then this actually might do you harm than good. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're trying to help him.

It's Not Up To You To Solve His Problems Or To Come To A Solution. He Needs Your Support More: Most of us have a real tendency to want to solve problems for those who we love. We don't like to see them hurting and it's absolutely normal to want to step in and alleviate those things that are causing them pain. But, to your spouse, this might look like that you are just trying to take over and to stop them from sorting this out for themselves. The truth is, they are likely never to feel completely at peace about this process unless and until they know that they had real choices and that this process was authentic because the answers only came from them. Only he can examine his life and decide what he truly wants. If you do this for him, he might question the results and you are in a worse position than when you started. (Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. And this was part of the reason my husband left. I did get him back, but my mistakes made that difficult initially. You can read that whole story by clicking here.)

How Do You Genuinely Help Him?: So knowing this, what can you do to help him? You can let him know that you are there for him if he needs to talk. You can let him know that you support him and want him to be happy. You can gently point out trends or issues that you see, but be careful if you do. As best as you can, you must give off the appearance of being objective and supportive rather than manipulative. This is very important. Because if he believes that you are only trying to manipulate him, then he may start to look at you as one of those things in his life that need to be discarded. But, if you are supportive and he comes to realize that you always make things better for him instead of worse, then it is more than likely that he will realize that you fit wonderfully into his new life and that you have nothing to worry about.

I know that this is likely very frustrating for you. I know from experience that this feels more than unfair. I know that it is very tempting to tell him that he's being selfish and that his life will never be perfect. But, if you do this, then there is a real risk in him thinking that you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. He isn't likely to come to believe that he's being selfish or mistaken just because you told him so. In fact, he's likely to resent you for saying it instead. That's why it's very important that you try to appear to be supportive rather than judgmental.

I know that this hurts and I know that it is scary.  But it is so important to give off the appearance of support instead of manipulation. If I had done this, I might not have had to recover from a separation.  If it helps you can read more about how I overcame my husband distancing himself on my blog http://isavedmymarriage.com

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