Couples at Mid-Life

By coming to therapy together, you may discover a new opportunity to get to know one another again.

We keep growing and changing all throughout our lives. We go through different developmental stages, even as adults. Those changes impact us individually, which, in turn, impacts our relationships. Naturally, mid life couples face a diverse array of challenges.

Your “Midlife Crisis” Can Be An Opportunity

There is a persistent stereotype about the midlife crisis. The story goes something like this …

You reach an age where you’re starting to realize that not all of your childhood dreams are going to come true. You feel dissatisfied by what you have and perhaps hopeless that there’s not much more to come.

Even if you’ve achieved external success, such as in your career, it just feels like “there must be more” and yet you can’t tap into those feelings of passion and excitement. Maybe you panic and try to regain your youth – which is where the stereotypes of plastic surgery, sports cars, and affairs with younger people emerge.

This story is persistent for a reason…

but your midlife experience doesn’t have to go this way. First of all, of course, everyone’s experience is unique. You may reach midlife and not feel this way at all. More likely, though, some – but not all – of this rings a bit true for you. It’s very common for people to reach midlife and start to have some of these thoughts and feelings.

What’s not true is that it has to be a “crisis.” At each stage of development, we have the opportunity to go one of two ways. We can either get overwhelmed and freeze, leaving the issue unresolved. Or we can see it as an opportunity for growth. Even if the growth period is hard, we can use it to propel ourselves forward into the next stage of life with intention and even excitement.

Yes, you and/or your partner might have some of those “is this all there is?” feelings. However, you can work with those to ask yourself what you really want out of the next half of your life. Then you can work together to make those dreams a reality.

“We are not the same persons this year as last, nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
– W. Somerset Maugham

Common Situations for Couples at Mid Life

There are a few different scenarios that are very common for couples at mid life. These scenarios present different problems for relationships.

Some couples got married young. They had children in their twenties or thirties. As they reach midlife, their children are grown or almost grown. These couples may still be together. If that’s you, then you might look up one day and realize that you’ve been so busy with work and raising the kids that you don’t even really know your partner anymore.

Alternatively, those couples may have gotten divorced along the way. This presents the challenge of learning how to co-parent. If one or both of you decides to remarry then there are step-parent and blended family issues.

Some couples focused on their careers, building a lot of external success and perhaps wealth. They may have older children now. Alternatively, they may have started families late and have young children. They may be dealing with fertility issues around just starting a family now. Or they may have decided not to have children at all. Any of these different situations presents unique challenges for couples at midlife.

Questions Couples Ask at Midlife

As a result of the above scenarios, couples often find themselves asking:

  • Who are you? Are you still the same person that I married?
  • Do we want to stay together or is this marriage actually over?
  • What do romance, passion, and intimacy look like in our later years?
  • If divorced, am I ready to remarry someone new? What does that look like?
  • What does marriage even mean to me? Is this it?

People at midlife ask a lot of questions about how their past choices brought them to the present and what choices they want to make today to shape their futures. Couples at mid life ask the same types of questions – of themselves and of their parents.

Therapy Can Help You Answer Mid Life Questions

Both individual and couples therapy can help you answer the questions that arise in midlife. You might find that you’ve been going along, doing what needs to be done, for so long that you’ve lost touch with exactly what you want. That’s normal. In our twenties and thirties, we focus on establishing ourselves in our careers, marriages, as parents, as friends, and as community members.

When we get into your forties, fifties, and sixties, we start to turn inward again. Our children may be grown, we don’t have to strive so hard in our careers … and as a result, we have the opportunity to ask, “what do I really want?” If you’re in a relationship, you also have the opportunity to ask, “what do we really want?” Therapy is the place to puzzle through the answer to that question. The more clarity you gain about what you want, the easier it will be to make decisions for your romantic life.

Couples who come to therapy together at mid life often find that it presents a new opportunity to get to know one another again. You get to figure out what you want your relationship to be. Even though it can feel like a crisis in the midst of it, it’s truly an opportunity.

Contact me today to learn more about how therapy can help mid life couples.