Midlife Crisis Husband Returns: Reconciliation After Midlife Crisis

It can start small. Your husband may look at his sagging paunch and purchase a gym membership, or possibly buy some trendy clothes. The next thing you know, he is driving around in a Corvette looking at girls less than half his age. When a mid-life crisis hits a husband, it can place a significant strain on the marriage.

Why Now?

The mid-life issue shows itself typically when a man reaches his forties. It can also happen between fifty and sixty if your husband is a "late bloomer." He may blow out the candles on his cake and realize that his life is half over.

This realization can bring forward a flood of other emotions. Fear of becoming even older, disappointment in unfulfilled dreams or even a depression can arise in him. Try not to take it personally. Most people reach a period in life of self-reevaluation and a possible realization of just how close is the inevitability of death - compared to how much more there might be to experience while alive.

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What Now?

A mid-life crisis can show itself in a multitude of forms. You may notice your husband seems unusually down. It may be difficult for him to take pleasure in the normal parts of your lives together.

In the extreme form, he may start acting differently, trying to hide his age with products or a more youthful appearance. Sometimes he chooses activities that are for younger, more athletic men - perhaps even dangerous activities. The worst happens if he steps over the line and engages in an extra-marital affair.

What Can You Do?

Clearly it can be very difficult for you if your husband is going through a mid-life crisis. At times you may feel you are married to a stranger. Your own feelings are hurt more easily, especially when he makes insensitive comments. It can also be painful when he doesn't want to share in the same activities with you - even sexual intimacy.

As hard as this to deal with, it's a reality you both face. You need to be supportive as much as you can - within reason. For instance, he is still your husband and should respect the marriage vows you both made - infidelity is never excusable.

It may actually be healthy for him to try new activities or work on completing lifelong goals. Both of you, however, need to set some ground rules. There are simply some behaviors and activities that are not acceptable, and he still needs to be an active part of your marriage regardless what he is feeling and going through.

Thankfully, few mid-life crises are permanent. Eventually your husband will regain more of a balance. As long as you both work together, this too shall pass - and you may both in fact benefit from the experience.

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I've dealt with some real problems in marriages. But no matter what the extent of the problems may be, they can be solved. Every marriage can be salvaged and repaired-except one.

The only time I've been unable to help a marriage is when one or both of the couple involved no longer have a desire to make it work. The killing of that desire makes it impossible to overcome the issues in the relationship.

I often have to ask this question to someone who feels dead regarding his or her marriage, "Do you wish that you would care for the marriage?" I'm looking for anything, the smallest grain, the barest hint of a desire to make it work. If I can find anything, there is hope.

But someone who doesn't care won't care enough to make any effort. And that is the reason any marriage will fail. Both sides need to care. Both sides need to have at least a sliver of desire to make the marriage work.

Often times, it will be up to you if your spouse retains his or her desire to make the marriage work. You can so pound a person into the ground emotionally and spiritually that you drive out any desire to even want to make it work. I've witnessed husbands who were so lackadaisical regarding their marriage and wife that they killed her desire to want to be married. They come to me in a last ditch effort to save their marriage, but she doesn't have the will or desire to save it anymore.

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It's hard to fix a marriage where someone doesn't want it to be fixed. It's almost impossible.

Don't mistake hope for desire, however. A person who feels that there is no hope may still have the desire to make it work. There is therefore hope for the marriage. I can rekindle hope, but trying to rekindle desire is extremely difficult.

So if your marriage is struggling, the most important thing you can do is try to see to it that desire to make the relationship a success remains on both sides of the marriage. Don't allow the desire to perish.

Consider these things:

1. Be willing to get help. Show that you are willing to make a go at it.

2. Tell your spouse that you believe in them. That'll help keep the desire alive.

3. Say that you aren't willing to give up. If your spouse sees your determination, maybe he or she will be willing to keep trying.

4. Start having weekly dates. This may help rekindle your desire for each other.

Keep desire alive!

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Marriage is a school from which no spouse ever graduates until death. This is because marriage as a divinely created institution is a lifelong contract between two persons-a man and a woman- who have agreed to live together as husband and wife till death do them part. Marriage is a two-some contract between a man and a woman. It is also a three-some covenant between the man, the woman and God the creator.

Of all human relationships, marriage is the most unique form which brings together two personalities from different social, spiritual, intellectual and emotional backgrounds. Psalm 139:14 says that man is fearfully and wonderfully created which means that there are no two persons that are exactly alike.

It takes much time to be able to learn and accommodate the other spouse's likes and dislikes, tastes and preferences. It requires the grace of God, knowledge and wisdom to adjust and blend in with the differences for a harmonious coexistence. In marriage, there is always something new to learn and the marriage curriculum can never be exhausted. No one knows it all except God. For the spouses, the more they learn and can apply the better for the marriage.

This post is directed at the angry and contentious wife (Proverbs 21:19) who makes unkind and derogatory remarks about her husband in the presence of neighbors, friends and relations. She tramples on her husband's self-esteem at will and sets in motion an ugly chain of reactions which she may not be able to reverse later and may spell doom for the marriage. No reasonable husband can place any iota of trust in a contentious wife unlike the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31.

A man's self-esteem is his image, his pride and his idea of how the world sees him. It is a man's sense of worth before others. It is his sense of respect which he enjoys from others. A wife who damages her husband's self-esteem does incalculable damage which may cause the death of the marriage over time. Many husbands may not bother about what a wife says or does as long as their ego is not hurt. Many husbands (Christians and non-Christians) will not take it kindly with any woman who tramples on their self-esteem.

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No man or husband is perfect as all men (including women) have faults and shortcomings. Many husbands have shortcomings in the social, marital, spiritual, intellectual and financial arena. How should a wife react to a husband's failings in marriage? There are four ways that women adopt when reacting:

1) Some refuse to talk preferring to nurse a grudge against the husband. This can cause great pressure and distress later on. The husband is completely in the dark about the problem.

2) Some become rude but without discussing the problem with the husband who does not know. This irritates him and he may draw wrong conclusions which may worsen the matter.

3) Some will deliberately hurt the husband via verbal attacks on his person with the intent to humiliate him before others. This method eventually will destroy the home and the marriage if not checked.

4) The wise wife will talk about the issues while taking care not to trample on her husband's self-esteem. This is good communication strategy that enhances harmony and promotes peaceful coexistence in the marriage.

The unwise wife, who is the angry and contentious woman, tramples on her husband's ego in the following ways:

-nagging and embarrassing him before others

-speaking to him roughly in the presence of his relations

-deliberately violating his instructions in order to spite him

-saying the truth but with the wrong approach as follows:

a) Choosing the wrong time to say it (when)

b) Choosing the wrong location to say it (where)

c) Choosing the wrong medium to say it (how)

The above characteristics of the angry and contentious woman/wife are a breach of biblical guidelines and instructions on relationship with others. The Bible expressly teaches Christians not to engage in the following sinful practices:

-destroying one another (Galatians 5:15)

-provoking one another (Galatians 5:26)

-slandering one another (James 4:11)

-grumbling against one another (James 5:9)

The above, known as the negative 'one anothers' create disunity and is evidence of the sinful nature that we are expected to do away with. The Bible teaches us to forbear with one another in the following ways:

-to honor one another (Romans 12:10)

-to love one another (Romans 13:8)

-to accept one another (Romans 15:7)

-to care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)

-to carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)

-to bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2)

-to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

-to pray for one another (James 5:16)

-to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)

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The above are the positive 'one anothers' which is evidence of the fruits of the Spirit expected of every Heaven bound Christian. Therefore, the wife is advised to take the following steps to address her husband's shortcomings:

Communication

Never disobey a husband's instructions because to do so is to hurt him. He will see it as a challenge and will want to assert his authority. However, a wife is not bound to comply with instructions that are a clear violation of God's Word.

Discuss issues with him with an attitude of politeness and humility. Discuss with him in the right mood i.e. when he is happy and in a private place.

Present your worries and opinions lovingly and carefully, using the right choice of words and taking care not to force your opinions on him.

Submission

If he refuses to see your point, submit to his view. If he finds out later that he is in the wrong and you are in the right, he will respect your opinion and begin to abide by it.

But if he refuses to see your point and you also refuse to submit, he will likely see it as an affront on his authority. Even when he knows that you are right, he may not consider your opinions because you were insubordinate.

Helpmeet

A wife is a helpmeet. It may not be possible to change a man when he has become a husband. The wife as a helpmeet is expected to complement her husband and protect his interests. Cover up his deficiencies, not exposing him to public ridicule. A true helpmeet will not be scouting for faults when she also has hers which Christ overlooked.

Love

Where there is no love or where love is thin, faults are thick. Before the marriage, love has eyes and can see but after the wedding, love becomes blind and cannot see faults. Marriage is adjustment and acceptance. Overlook his faults and focus more on his strengths and potentials. Love is a decision. You can love the unlovable even when it is not convenient.

Encourage him, respect him, stand by him, pray for him and counsel him. Be a dependable woman to him, not a 'broadcaster' of his weaknesses. Pray for the grace to be the woman behind his success. Pray to be a pillar behind him and not a caterpillar that destroys.

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Is anyone else getting a little sick and tired of the arguments?

Just on the Christian side of the debate there is a wide range of views. Many Christians are incredulous that someone could be Christian and be pro-same-sex-marriage, or more poignant, that someone might be actively non-heterosexual and be a follower of Christ. The other side of the debate is similarly incredulous: "these are Christians? Who judge us. Who pontificate. Who are also sexually broken persons, yet pretend they're perfect." There is a lack of grace on both sides. Both Christian sides. Christians ripping each other apart, for the onlooking world to see, against the new command of Jesus, to "love one another." Many Christians, it has to be said, sit in the middle, seeing the folly in arguing without dignifying the other. Many are appalled at the behaviour of both sides.

The largest part of the issue is what glib Christians write, unchecked, in their social media comments. We all have the tendency to be glib when we live unchecked. Then many will say, "I wanted to say that." If that's the case - that something exclusivist was said - then it's a case of intentional, stubborn disobedience. "Doesn't God give us a mind and a mouth to express our thoughts and make our stand for Him?" God doesn't need any of us to make a stand for Him. But if we're glib, and we're caught out in our glibness, there's an opportunity for introspection. Glibness, no matter how right we think we are, will win nobody to Christ, and worse, it takes us farther from the Presence of God. See how deceived we can become?

A LOOK WITHIN

Now, as I look inward, I see the materials of stubbornness and glibness right there; insoluble with God's reckoning. Glibness, if I'm honest (and because I believe in Christ I need to be honest) is an abhorrent default. And stubbornness wills me to continue, insolently, along my prideful path. Glibness is a sign of something I cannot seem in my own strength to help, and how far short I fall of God's glory; the enemy of God reminding me. Stubbornness is the same. I am stubborn on a daily basis, many times a day. Woefully inadequate am I in my awareness upon entering the intensity of my inner reflections.

Yet this is a great thing to know. It's what makes me Christian. I'm a sinner. Knowing I'm a sinner means I understand the role of sin in others' lives. I experience the grace of God in my own life, and, having been forgiven, He helps me to locate the log that is intermittently in my own eye. I accept I'll never be anything close to being perfect in this life. And so I begin never to expect perfection in others. I begin to view others through God's lens of grace. And then, peace. Only then, peace.

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IMPORTANT ISSUES

These are no doubt important issues - to all parties. I would be glib and stubborn if I pretended that parties on all sides of the debate have no right to debate their argument.

As I watch from my vantage point in the middle, as someone wanting to have no view, and yet as someone who does have a view (for we all have a view, especially if we don't), I have to remind myself that my frustration is a sign of my need of God, and not a sign of their fault; those who deal differently than I do.

There is no question, these are important issues for all sides of the debate. From my look within I establish that I must respect every different viewpoint, and particularly the person from which that different viewpoint has a viable worldview that backs it up.

WHAT IS MAKING THE ARGUMENT INSOLUBLE

Now to what is irreconcilable. There is no relationship. All the sides can see is the difference and the 'hating' starts. I've seen hating language and behaviour from both sides. As far as east is to west, never the twain shall meet. This is another thing we're wise to accept. Until God reigns, truly in reality, there will never be a universal oneness of view. We're made too different, together with our sinful natures, to achieve it. So we must accept that, as we're passionate one way, others will be equally passionate the other way.

If there were relationship, and by relationship I mean functionally, then we might be able to argue respectfully. But even then we would not get agreement. It helps to accept this. It helps to commit beforehand to celebrate our vitalising diversity.

A BETTER WAY TO FIGHT - THE ONLY DECENT WAY

Arguments aren't the problem. In a free society we can argue, praise God; that all comers and all views have their rightful place - not at all regarding the material of respective arguments, but for the fact we're equals. This is about upholding the decency of being human. Get that right, and keep it at the forefront, and only then do we gain rightful entry into debate.

The problem is twofold: arguing without a well-thought-out case and, underpinning fruitful arguing, playing the ball and not the man or woman, i.e. arguing responsibly by being a guardian of emotions - ours and theirs. If they lose emotional control, we need to modulate back. We're called to love, not to victory. Love is the victory.

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Entering an argument should mean that we've previously agreed we'll not act hurt if what is said or done to us or our arguments runs awry. The licence to enter the arena should be contingent on being relationally resilient enough to hold ourselves well enough to respect the other. If we cannot do that we ought to get out of the debate, because we'll fight badly and damage will ensue.

A good way to fight is also to accept there will always be a divide, and that God loves those on the opposite side of the argument just as much as He loves us. Our frustration should be a sign to us of our own incapacity to be God. It should drive us into the Godhead, but alas it doesn't and we'll often make ourselves and others pay for our spiritual incongruity that acts itself out in all sorts of criminal behaviours.

A NEW SOLUTION

There is a new solution that is also an ancient one. It's new because it's new to us. It's new every day. It's ancient because it's eternal. Nothing new under the sun. Both new and ancient.

Knowing how far we fall short is fundamental. Yet I am new, and God looks at me as if I'm perfect already - when I'm still so pathetically imperfect. Both things are true.

A new solution is this: stop. If we're not called to be a lobbyist on either side, we need to stop. Get out of the argument. We could be getting in God's way. We could be alienating people God has called us to love. Let us resolve to love in an inclusive way. Let us put away our differences, jettisoning our indifferences also, and commit again to living the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace,... forbearance, kindness, goodness,... faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Love will call us into a rigorously uncomfortable sphere. Let us endeavour to recommence the journey every moment of our lives.

May God truly bless us all as we endeavour to live in the community of humankind, giving to each other the kindness of being human in its original form.

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