People are looking for hope in all kinds of places these days. Researching the possibility of timelines, to get a good idea of what one is facing, is OK, as long as each person understands that no timeline is ever set in stone. There are no absolutes within the context of the midlife crisis, there is only learning to release the midlife spouse to their own devices, while you take that same time your husband or wife has taken, to (hopefully) do necessary inner work on your individual Self.
Yet, in spite of knowing this, the question still comes up: “How long does a midlife crisis last?”
If people are choosing to make an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual Stand for their marriages, they should be acknowledging that this crisis would take time to resolve. When I chose to Stand for my marriage I already knew it would take time, and possibly a long time, to resolve. None of us gets any choice about how long someone else is going to choose his or her own path, and we do not get any choice, about how much time that person’s emotional crisis will take.
My knowledge about the midlife crisis was gained from personal experience, and from the observation of other people’s experiences.
What I have learned over a long number of years:
In his book, Men in Midlife Crisis, published in 1978, Dr. Jim Conway stated that the average time of the crisis was two to seven years, if not shorter, or even longer. It seems to me that if his approximated timelines were even close to being correct, Dr. Conway would not have felt the need to start another website, geared toward what he called the “late life” group.
According to what he wrote on his site, (I cannot provide the link, because at the time of this writing, someone has hacked it) Dr. Conway was still getting emails asking him for help, with the same problems as before. This group of people were no longer in the middle-aged group, but were much older people, and still dealing with the same midlife crisis they had been struggling with in prior years. This confirms to me, once again, that the midlife crisis is not on a strict and definite timeline. What would fit each person that goes through/went through their own personal timeline within their individual midlife crisis is not necessarily going to apply to other people, because of the differences in people.
What is my point? You cannot trust ANY timeline that is released for public consumption. These are only guesses, and approximations. There is no one that can tell you exactly how long a midlife crisis will last.
I completely, and respectfully, disagree with the two years, but fully agree with the seven years (or longer) based upon my own lived experiences that actually exceeded the seven-year proposed average.
No person can ever bury an unresolved issue deep enough to prevent themselves from going through another bout of emotional crisis. The midlife crisis demands all or none–there is no other way to navigate through. I know this from observed and very personal experience.
My husband once went through, and completed, a three-year bout of midlife crisis. However, because he decided to set aside one deeply painful emotional issue, refusing to face, resolve, and heal in full, my husband was forced back into emotional crisis once more. This secondary event occurred nearly two years after he finished his first bout of midlife crisis.
He finished that second bout seven years later, including his two healing processes. When he came out of his first bout of his midlife crisis, I went through, and completed, a midlife transition that took seven and a half years, including my two healing processes. At different times, we faced our individual past emotional issues, and learned Life’s Lessons, separately, then, together. As time moved forward, we continued to choose to remain in a relationship with each other. Eventually, we both came out changed, whole, and healed. We are, indeed, fully reconciled, and doing very well.
As of the time of this writing, we have been married 30+ years.
How we did it, is not the subject of this particular writing. However, the fact was we made our individual choices, took our time, and walked our journeys. Though our time in this emotionally painful maturation process was longer than people would probably like to read about, this was OUR TIME- as individuals, and as a couple-to grow, change, and become. Was it worth it? Yes, it was. We would not do this again, but the journey through was worth the time we used for our own benefit, because we changed, we grew, and we became emotionally mature adults.
Transcending, and surviving, as a married couple, was simply a bonus prize that came at the end of our crisis/transition.
As you continue searching for information, please do keep in mind that each individual person writes according his or her own personal experience. Your personal experience may not resolve in the same way as other people’s have. The midlife crisis words, and actions, may be similar, but your situation will always vary, according to each individual. The time taken to complete the midlife crisis completely depends on each individual person and his or her willingness to face their issues.
I have seen midlife crisis cases that lasted over four years, five years, seven years, nine years, ten years, and longer. I always took into consideration the memories of the person I was guiding through, who knew their situations better than I ever would. For what it’s worth, I always knew that there is no such thing as a “midlife crisis clock” that started ticking at the time when the unwanted emotional bomb was dropped. People are intelligent enough to know, remember, and understand when their spouse’s midlife crisis started, and they come to know that when that unwanted emotional bomb was dropped, that was the start of their journey.
When my husband was dealing with two bouts of midlife crisis, and I dealt with a midlife transition, we spent a total of twelve years in this crucible of change, growth, and becoming. In addition, because of what he and I went through, I removed the timelines on the six stages of a midlife crisis article I had written and updated in the past.
Due to what I know now, I cannot say, with any real certainty, what the average is on the period of the midlife crisis, because everybody is so different. The timelines I had previously written, were never set in stone; these were for the purpose of guidance and possibilities only, based on not only my husband’s first bout of midlife crisis, but also many more situations that were the same. When I learned differently, I changed what I had written, to reflect my greater growth in knowledge. The only exceptions are those writings that are in places I cannot edit.
Sadly, enough, no one was listening, when I kept saying those former timelines were only for guidance, and not absolute truth. People claim that timelines give them hope, but the reality, that exposes itself, actually speaks a Truth of increasing expectations that contain decreasing patience. It’s a shame that so many people define themselves through their relationships, rather than by their own individuality. But, it is what it is, and as it stands, I don’t give up on anyone; I keep trying to get through. ((HUGS))
I have lived through this experience, I share with people based on that same experience, because no book, or writing will ever take the place of what individual will experience in real life.
As I so often do, I will also take the time to remind everyone that you cannot control anyone but yourself. As each person is different, each midlife crisis is different. What one will do another will not.
When people concentrate on timelines surrounding their own midlife crisis situation, they are focusing on that husband, or wife they really have no control over.
People also have a habit of looking at other people’s situations, to see how they can somehow “fit” their situation into someone else’s experience, without taking into consideration the differences in lives that are lived, past childhood experiences, and past emotional issues that must be faced, resolved, and healed. As a result, people often become frustrated, then angry, because they do not understand how this other person’s midlife crisis situation ended in a short time, while theirs continues for a longer time.
What timelines each situation may face, still depends upon the midlife crisis spouse, and again, their willingness to face the pain of their past emotional issues. However, this also depends–and this is not always agreed with–upon the willingness of the left behind spouse to take their individual journey toward wholeness and healing. Within the left behind spouse’s process, effecting change, growth, becoming, and “leaving” the midlife crisis spouse behind to catch up, if they were so inclined.
Even though there is always hope as long as you love your spouse, there is never any guarantee of a later reconciliation, or an early ending of this crisis.
You could be looking at another few years, or many more years, depending on what he or she chooses to do, and depending on how willing you might be to try and outlast his or her crisis, too. However, only God knows what will happen in the future.
I would always hope for the crisis to end in a reasonable period, but the additional question the left behind spouse must also answer is, when choosing to Stand, how long is too long? I never felt I could answer that, as I observed my husband navigating through his first bout of midlife crisis, then his second bout of midlife crisis, as he continued struggling with his last and final issue. I did not even know how long it would take him to finish, because I was not him, and he was not me.
Eventually, I decided that timelines no longer mattered, that I would be there no matter what happened. I also decided that if anyone were going to end the marriage, it would be him and not me. BUT–that was ME, who walked with God for that entire time of his midlife crisis experiences, and my overlapping midlife transition.
I cannot tell you what to do, how to do it, or when to do it, but I will say this: No one can give a definitive answer to the question that asks, “How long does a midlife crisis last?” Nobody knows this answer, regardless of what anyone might think to tell you. Do not base your decisions on a timeline that does not belong to you, because putting your hope in an approximated timeline would only frustrate you.
I walked this road according to how my intuition guided me, without knowing how long it would be. I learned that it was not the end of the journey that was important, it was what I learned all along the way that really mattered–not how long the midlife crisis was going to last.
How long the midlife crisis will last really does depend on your husband/wife, the issues he or she is facing within this trial, and how willing they are to choose to face and confront their individual Self.
My own personal experience does speak to knowing that as long as the midlife crisis spouse contains unresolved painful inner issues, within the crisis they will remain. Reaching full resolution takes time, and you should be utilizing that same time to do your own Self Work. You cannot help the midlife crisis spouse, but you can choose to help yourself.
How long will their midlife crisis last? Nobody knows, but God, and the midlife spouse.
Food for thought.