Why More Often It’s A Married Man Who Has A Midlife Crisis


    6 Min Read


    Here’s the typical scenario for a married man's midlife crisis.

    A couple is going through life together and everything seems pretty good. They’re raising kids, working at jobs, maintaining their household, and trying to still find some spare time for fun.

    Neither would describe their relationship as great, but they wouldn’t say it’s horrible either.

    Could their lives be more enjoyable and satisfying? Sure.

    Are they doing anything to make that happen? Usually, no.


    Their communication is almost always only about the day-to-day. Nothing about anything deeper, like how they really feel about each other or their life together.

    But there’s a ticking time timebomb in their relationship and neither one knows it.

    The man has a growing dissatisfaction with his life. Sometimes he recognizes he’s unhappy, but often not.

    In some situations, there’s a clear event, such as a death, health crisis, or job loss that initiates this discontent.

    Regardless, most of the time not a lot of thought is given to why he feels unhappy – he just feels it (either periodically or all the time).

    This is how a typical married man midlife crisis begins.


    Is there something about marriage that contributes to the development of a midlife crisis?

    Yes, but it’s probably not what you think.

    Are most men who have a midlife crisis married?

    Yes, the majority of men who have a midlife crisis are married.

    How much is marriage a factor in midlife crisis?

    A lot.

    A married man midlife crisis is the most common type of MLC. Let’s explore why this is the case.

    Why Midlife Crisis Happens

    The pressures of life can be difficult for everyone. However, some of us are better equipped to handle these stressors than others.

    Factors that can help you avoid a midlife crisis include -

    • Experience going through and dealing with painful situations prepares us for handling future ones.

    • Managing the responsibilities of life on our own prepares us for handling life’s challenges.

    • Not having our happiness solely dependent upon external factors makes us better able to handle the emotional rollercoaster that life can bring.

    People who haven’t had these experiences, regardless of the reasons why, can more easily struggle with life when it doesn’t go the way we want or expect.


    A patient told me yesterday her grandfather taught her from an early age that life isn’t fair and therefore she shouldn’t expect it to be.

    She’s now trying to teach her teenage daughter this important truth because her daughter believes everything should be fair and gets very upset when it isn’t.

    In my 20 plus years of counseling married men in midlife crisis I’ve found the biggest reason they happen is because the man isn’t emotionally prepared to handle life’s difficult moments.

    • Disappointments

    • Frustrations

    • Loss

    When life doesn’t go the way you want or expect, how do you respond?

    For example, when -

    • You don’t have as much sex as you want.

    • You thought you’d be making more money at this point in your life.

    • Other people look like they have more fun than you do.

    Unmet expectations like these can be very difficult to handle.

    This is one of the main reasons why there’s so much alcohol abuse, porn addiction, gambling, and gaming. They’re all quick and easy ways to escape emotional pain. So is an affair.


    Can you tell me why a married man in a midlife crisis thinks he's in love with every woman he cheats with and moves in with. My husband has done this twice in the past five years with two different girls close to our 25 year old daughters age.” -Becca

    How Being Married Impacts A Man’s Midlife Crisis

    A common belief about marriage and spouses is that they're supposed to make us happy. Even though people's expectations are often unrealistic, this is still frequently a core belief.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying marriage and your spouse can’t bring happiness - they can and should. They just aren’t going to bring it all the time or as much as many people want or need.

    Marriage typically comes with a lot of expectations for both partners. When these aren’t met, or not in the way we expect, negative feelings like resentment and discontentment arise.

    This is one of the reasons a married man in midlife crisis is so common.

    Another reason is a relationship with another person, especially a marriage, comes with restrictions and constraints that exacerbate the thoughts and feelings that feed a midlife crisis. Everything we do impacts the other person, which makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to do whatever you want.


    A midlife crisis is inherently ‘all about me.’ A marriage us supposed to be ‘all about us.’

    It’s not only married men who have a midlife crisis though, nor is it only men - women have midlife crises too.

    However, a marriage presents more obstacles to the self-focus and unhappiness that precipitates and fuels a midlife crisis. It's because of these obstacles that midlife crises more often occur to married people.

    For instance -

    • If a single man is lonely, he can go on dating apps and meet someone new.

    • Whereas if a married man is lonely, he needs to (or should) communicate this to his wife and work together with her to find solutions. Unfortunately, this isn't an appealing idea for many men.

    Complicating this scenario is that communication has likely already been tried to some degree and yielded limited results, which is why feeling stuck or trapped is common. This can then create more negative feelings that can be trigger the onset of a midlife crisis in a married man.

    And, yes, most men don’t talk or do anything constructive about they're feelings. Instead, some choose an easier path like acting like a single guy.

    The Ways A Married Man’s Midlife Crisis Affects His Wife

    Wives are often surprised, confused, and hurt when their husbands go through a midlife crisis. They want to do something to help, but feel very limited in what they can do to fix ‘it.’

    Typically, they don’t even truly understand what the ‘it’ that needs fixing really is. It’s usually not clearly stated and operates as a moving target.

    So, just like their husbands, wives feel stuck.


    Here’s one wife’s story of her man’s midlife crisis –

    I have been with my husband since I was 15. 21 years later, I found out he had multiple affairs within a short period of time while deployed to another country with the military. A long term partner, several one night encounters, attention seeking on multiple social media accounts, and even picked up drinking while he was there (I have never known him to drink and he has never done so at home). He has always been a great husband, friend, father and provider. All of that behavior was completely out of character for him and he has given me full transparency, remorse, regret, etc., etc. If a married man midlife crisis is real, I would say he had many of the indicators leading up to it. My problem is, he doesn't want to divorce and has now discovered he has the herpes virus. I told him I could never be with him sexually no matter how much I forgave him and he is saying he is ok with that as long as we just remain husband as wife as we once were (but no sex). How is that supposed to pan out? Isn't it just a matter of time before human nature kicks in and his ‘needs’ need fulfilled thus repeating what occurred to begin with... I really believe him when he says he won't cheat again but have you ever dealt with a married couple not even in their 40s swearing off sex for the remainder of life!? For me, I can be ok with living that way but I am actually more concerned for him and having a healthy lifestyle. Seems unnatural and too much of a sacrifice for ‘love’ when all of this was for ‘sexual needs’ to begin with - or was it? I was not the best wife in providing the attention he needed while away, in my defense I was raising 3 teenagers on my own and completely focused on them. By the time I realized I may be neglecting him he had already began receiving this attention elsewhere and snowball effect from there.” -Olivia

    Olivia’s right to have questions and doubts.

    • Was it a lack of sex that caused his midlife crisis?

    • Is it realistic to expect he’ll be fine with no sex the rest of his life?

    These are important questions that don’t have easy answers.

    Her husband probably doesn’t have the answers either. Which is why getting a professional counselor (like myself) to do an assessment and make recommendations is invaluable when dealing with the uncertainties of a married man in midlife crisis.


    What To Take Away

    If you’ve got a married man having a midlife crisis, keep the following in mind.

    • The vast majority of men who have a midlife crisis are married.

    • Midlife crisis happens to people who aren’t emotionally equipped to handle life’s challenges.

    • Accountability to a partner contributes to the onset of a midlife crisis for a married man and complicates navigating one.

    • Wives of a man in midlife crisis can struggle just as much as their husband does.

    Marriage can be a wonderful thing, but it can also make things much more difficult for a married man in midlife crisis (and for his wife too).

    Do you know a married man who’s having a midlife crisis? Tell other readers what it's been like for you and get their feedback.


    Looking for More? Check Out These Articles

    Read Comments from Others with Similar Experiences Below

    Like what you read?

    Guy Stuff's Counseling Men Blog shares real stories from our counseling sessions, giving practical solutions and answers to the challenges men and women face.

    Use your email to subscribe below.

    Subscribe to get in-depth articles, right in your inbox: