Midlife Crisis and Divorce

lonely man

By Ria Severance, LMFT

When you experience a mid-life crisis due to developmental or life-changing events, you may notice on the other side of these events that you do not imagine yourself continuing in your marriage.

The number one reason people give for divorcing is that they’ve “grown apart.” Maybe you’ve spent over a decade focused on parenting without giving to each other, or perhaps you’ve learned to avoid even important conflicts to just get on with life. Consequently, many important discussions that might have lead to closeness have resulted in distance, instead.

Sometimes during a mid-life crisis, one or both spouses will stand firm in their negative judgments or distancing behaviors, which can strain a marriage and increase the possibility of divorce. Over time, many couples create multiple patterns of interactions that lead them to move away from one another, rather than deepening a sense of closeness.

A few reasons why spouses/partners might experience a “mid-life crisis:”

  • People pleasers and conflict-avoiders are prone to put their spouse’s desires and needs first, without proactively including their own.
  • Resentment kills off love, one drop at a time, more reliably than just about anything else. Not having the skill to express wants, needs, and desires clearly and respectfully, understandably leaves partners resentful and distanced.
  • Are aware of the other’s emotions, and thoughts, without clearly knowing or giving voice to their own, which leaves them feeling isolated and alone.
  • May not know how to effectively address a partner’s hurtful verbal or other behaviors, and may not feel cherished or valued;  May feel like a stranger, rather than an intimate partner.
  • Partners tend to complain about what they don’t like about their partners or their relationships, rather than asking respectfully for the specific behaviors they do want; this can lead to both partners distancing and training each other to dodge the risk of further negative interactions.
  • Partners may feel fed up with feeling pressured to be or a certain way; This can leave them feeling hopeless about being accepted or understood.
  • Partners may be driven by impulsive and/or destructive actions to “feel better,” without the skills needed to pursue this wisely or effectively within the context of the relationship (e.g. drugs, impulsive spending, affairs).
  • Partners may feel they can’t truly satisfy the needs and demands of a partner in a way that leaves both satisfied, and are worn out or depressed by the effort of it.

When life events or distancing interaction patterns jolt you in an earth-shattering way, spouses tend to reevaluate their own sense of worth in their relationship, as well as the value of the relationship itself.

If partners feel hopeless about feeling cherished or understood in a marriage, and couples’ therapy has been ineffective, rather than trying another therapist, they may view divorce is as the only viable path forward. However, this may not be the case. Through Discernment or “Decision” Counseling, Couples Counseling, Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, with the help of licensed mental health professionals many couples discover divorce is avoidable, as they learn to listen, have a clear, respectful voice, and communicate their understanding as well as their desires more effectively.

When divorce is indeed the path forward, the Collaborative Divorce Process provides each spouse with licensed mental health professionals who serve as “Communication Coaches,” to ensure your communication is effective, while also ensuring each voice is heard. Collaborative Divorce is the ideal process for those wanting a respectful, peaceful divorce that considers the wellbeing of all family members as the family restructures.

Any of the experts listed on our Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association website can help you get started and help you select a team that works well together. All Collaboratively-trained professionals are also required to be trained in mediation. We work to help facilitate a non-adversarial, non-litigated agreement that aligns with your values and your budget, without going to court.  This divorce process typically moves forward faster and more efficiently than a litigated divorce and usually at a comparatively reduced cost to both spouses.

Call us today if you would like to learn more about how Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association professionals can help you through a respectful divorce and work to preserve your family’s emotional wellbeing, as well as their assets!


Note: This information is general in nature and should not be construed as personalized legal, financial, tax, mental health or medical advice. Please work with an attorney, financial, mental health, medical or tax professional to determine what is most effective for your specific situation.

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