If I see all the signs and symptoms of my husband being in a mid-life crisis, how do I tell him?


(Canada)

The Question


My husband has been under a great deal of stress and is very unhappy. We bought a business 3 years ago and he has worked 863 days out of a possible 872 (Since June 1 he has taken at least one day off a week)!

Needless to say I have had to really step up and take care of our 3 children, now aged 11, 10 and 7, plus our home as well continue to work full time as a teacher. He has now decided that I am the reason for his unhappiness, yet he says that he loves me, and that he wants us to stay friends, then, in the next breath he tells me that he has bought a house and will be moving out in the next 2 weeks.

He no longer talks to his brothers (his best friends) and will only see a counsellor until the counsellor questions his decisions. We have now sold our shares in the business - giving him great relief, but he is still planning on moving out. We have not told our children because he doesn't want to ruin their Christmas (this is written shortly before Christmas).

I have shown him a few different websites that point out male depression and of course your website - but he will not seek any help stating that he knows what he needs and it is space. (He has been pushing away for a year and a half. I hurt his feelings that night by "not listening when he wanted to talk" - I listened but then commented afterwards, something I have done throughout our 14 year relationship.)

Again - how can I help him?

Noel's response

I don't know that you can help him any more than you have. It is very difficult for one spouse to get 'help' from another, as both are enmeshed in the situation.

If he has or is seeing a counsellor, and/or has any other support, that is probably all the help he can be given. He may need to leave home to get the 'space' he wants.

My advice is to make sure you have the support you need, including making sure you protect yourself financially from him spending family money, or running up debts you don't know about. This could mean setting up a separate bank account for yourself, and/or getting him to sign separation papers with a stated amount he will contribute to the family each month.

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