Marriage Quest, Israel and Cathie Helfand, Cabot Vermont, 1-800-707-4566

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Recovering from Infidelity
Detecting and Surviving an Emotional Affair
Conquering a Mid-Life Crisis
When Your Children Leave Home
For Second Marriages too
Addressing Sexual Concerns
Emotional Intimacy and Physical Intimacy
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Midlife Crisis

Many marriages seem to fall apart after some years have passed... after the initial excitement of the marriage is over. The trigger that sends a couple to marriage counseling can be one or more activities that make a partner feel they "can't take it anymore," activities that some may consider trivial and others consider major. The major problems we often see are:

  • Lack of emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy
  • Infidelity
  • Change of personality and interests
  • Boredom or anxiety
  • These activities are sometimes judged as "just a mid-life crisis," but for the couple involved they are important enough to break up the marriage.

There is a time (often in the period between the ages of 35 and 50) when many people question the state of their lives. They have worked hard and acquired a family, home, status, and the material possessions that they desired, but then some doubts arise. They question where they are in their life and they may exhibit some behavioral changes that could be symptoms of this so-called mid-life crisis (which we fondly refer to as mid-life explorations). Some of these behavioral changes:

  • Unusual anger and irritability
  • Excessive eating, dieting, exercise, or shopping
  • Boredom, exhaustion, or frantic energy
  • Sexual affairs
  • Dissatisfaction with job
  • Drug or alcohol excesses
  • Daydreaming, desire for solitude
  • Major change in libido
  • Anxiety and/or Depression (including panic attacks)

At a Marriage Quest Intensive 3-Day Marriage Retreat the four of us (the couple and Cathie and Israel, the therapists) first discuss the behaviors that have appeared, and then look to understand some of the causes of the behavioral changes (as well as some ways to deal with them). Some typical causes might be:

  • Death of a close friend or parent
  • Stress because of children (especially teenagers)
  • Feelings of apathy at work or unemployment
  • A sense of loss during the "empty nest" phase as the children leave home
  • Hormone changes including menopause
  • Aging parent needing a caregiver.
  • Signs of aging: aching bones, reading glasses, etc.
  • Retirement and a need for some direction
  • Feeling that time is passing them by with no goals or challenges left
  • Adult children returning home or needing a lot of help
  • Recognition of one's eventual death

A mid-life crisis can play havoc with a marriage, changing a stable family life into chaos. Unexpected behavioral and mood changes can cause untold damage to all family relationships. Often it is necessary to dig deeper, to an earlier time in the individual's life, to find significant contributions for their current problems.

It is crucial to gain an understanding of the causes of a mid-life crisis so that the objectionable behavior will not be repeated. We find that, through a Marriage Quest Retreat, it is possible to use the mid-life crisis as a way to bring meaning and direction to a couple's lives. The process can be used as a path to gain a new-found understanding of one's goals in life and to gain help in finding a direction towards them.

Click for a more detailed description of Intensive Weekend Marriage Retreats.

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