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Is this part of mid-life crisis Men? How do I respond?

by Lisa
(New York)

The question

In talking to most women in there late forties and up, there seems to come a time in our relationships where our spouses become very needy and dependent on us. They are no longer satisfied in their careers, homes, relationships with their children, but seem to be searching for something.

Maybe it's love, intimacy and fun with their partner. I know that sounds like a good thing and most times it is, but it can also feel very smothering. I've tried to explain this to my husband but he interprets it as not liking him.

Men don't seem to have the same types of relationships that women do. They don't have friends that they confide in even though I think they might enjoy having such friends. Whereas most women rely a lot on their women friends for confiding, and the stress relief of laughter. All of a sudden our husbands want to be involved in things they were not involved in before. Because they lack intimate relationships with other men, they seem to rely on us to fulfil this need.

Sexually we are also not in agreement. He wants more, I want less. I love my husband and I'm glad to be there for him most times, but sometimes the intensity of the relationship seems smothering.

He does have other interests like golf and we do enjoy social events so we're not isolated, but when we spend too much time together, I feel overwhelmed. Maybe it's part of my midlife crisis too. Any suggestion?

Noel's response

You are right about most men not having intimate relationships with other men, where they feel free to confide their worries, etc. about their lives. The New Warrior Training Adventure which is sponsored by the ManKind Project is a challenging but very good experience for men of any age, as among other things, it helps men speak the truth of their lives without fear of being taken advantage of, or laughed at by other men.

It is also true that at midlife many men begin to feel more emotional, and want to express themselves more, but have no outlet in the 'man's world'.

As for feeling smothered in your relationship, that can happen either way (man smothering woman or woman smothering man with neediness). I suggest marriage counselling to help deal with that part of your marriage.

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