What Percentage Of Marriages Survive A Midlife Crisis? Here’s The Data

by Maria MagleoJuly 22, 2021

A midlife crisis can be scary due to relationship issues. So the question is, what percentage of marriages actually survive a midlife crisis?

In every marriage, facing some hiccups and setbacks is always expected. After all, you are dealing with many changes, not just within you and your partner, but in your marriage as well.

As time goes on, your marriage will gradually experience a transition from minor changes to major ones such as a decline in health, losing a loved one, or even your child leaving for college.

While these changes are all normal and are experienced by everyone at some point in their lives, they can lead to a thorough re-evaluation of one’s choices.

Now, you probably heard about the terms existential, quarter-life, and midlife crises. Although they are somehow different from one another, they all ask the same questions:

  • Is there more to life than what one already has?
  • Is this really the life that person wanted to live and to have?
  • What would have happened if one made a different choice back then?

These questions may seem innocent, but serious problems can emerge from them.

More so, if you are married, reaching midlife, and want to change several aspects of your life, you might behave differently or act in an unpremeditated way, wreaking havoc around you.

Can A Midlife Crisis Really Hurt A Marriage?

They say that life begins at 40, but is it really true, or is it actually the beginning of a midlife crisis?

According to Cathy Meyer of Brides, a midlife crisis is: 

“a phase in a middle-aged person’s life (usually between the ages of 35 to 65) wherein they feel compelled to face and/or reevaluate their mortality, confidence, identity, and accomplishments.”

While many people see aging or growing old as a normal part of one’s existence, some feel anxious and uncomfortable when talking about this topic.

As we all know, growing old requires major life transitions – from being young, free, and fun to maturity, dealing with responsibilities and conforming to “age-appropriate” behaviors.

Especially now that the internet and social media have taken their place in society, aging people might feel like they are already behind on the latest trends or too old for TikTok.

Moreover, aging can also cause the feeling that someone hasn’t done everything they have always wanted to do with their lives yet, and they are already running out of time.

The fact that half of their life is over, they can no longer go back to their younger years to do the things they wanted or to change some of their life decisions may lead to depression.

This is even more so if reaching midlife makes someone realize that they are unhappy and dissatisfied with how their life turned out to be.

Of course, when someone grows old and faces adult responsibilities, gets married, has children, and so on, they are also diverting their attention to other important things.

They might find these things fun initially, but later on in life, they might also suddenly remember all the things they’ve always wanted to do or accomplish.

Reaching midlife, a person might suddenly feel like they have already devoted most of their days to others, and maybe this is the time that they can finally put themselves first.

Unfortunately, a midlife crisis doesn’t only affect the person going through it, but it can also affect other people around them and even their relationships.

The person experiencing the midlife crisis might tend to act out in destructive ways. An example would be engaging in infidelity or making impulsive decisions.

And if there is a lack of communication, a marriage enduring a midlife crisis might suddenly feel like hanging on a thread.

For some, a midlife crisis is enough basis for ending a marriage. But do all marriages going through a midlife crisis always end in divorce?

The data

Divorce rates vary over time depending on the age bracket of the people involved, but would you believe that since the year 1990, the rates have doubled for US adults ages 50 and up?

This has been confirmed by an analysis carried out by the Pew Research Center on the 2015 American Community Survey (IPUMS) and a study conducted by Brown and Lin.

Here’s a brief and precise summary of the findings for the year 2015 as stated by the Pew Research Center:

  • Those ages 25-39, about 24 out of 1,000 married people end in divorce;
  • Of those who are in the age group of 40-49, about 21 out of 1,000 married people decided to divorce;
  • For those ages 50 and older, from only 5 in the year 1990, it upped to about 10 out of 1,000 married people divorcing on the year 2015

Using these percentages, we can conclude that even though a midlife crisis can cause serious conflicts in a marriage, most married couples still survive.

However, even though the numbers are considerably low for those who ended up in divorce, it is still concerning to know that there is a possibility for a marriage to end because of this.

That being said, if you feel like you and your spouse are currently experiencing a midlife crisis, and it is affecting your marriage, there are things you can both do to make it work.

Surviving Midlife Crisis

Not all people reaching midlife will experience a midlife crisis. 

But if ever you or your spouse is one of those people going through it, and things seem confusing and difficult right now, here are some things that might help:

1. Communicate

Communication plays a vital role in sustaining a happy and healthy marriage. However, it is even more important when one or both of you and your spouse deal with negative emotions.

When dealing with a midlife crisis, of course, there is an intense need to change something, whether in oneself or the marriage per se. 

With that in mind, you and your spouse should take some time to discuss what’s causing such thoughts and emotions and the possible steps to take to achieve this change.

Furthermore, it is also important that this conversation be made honest, open, and non-judgmental to avoid future conflicts.

2. Be supportive and patient

Remember – you may know that the bigger percentage of marriages will survive a midlife crisis, but your partner maybe isn’t aware.

And a midlife crisis can be a really tough time for the person experiencing it. So that is why it is of the essence that you try to give the necessary support so the person can get through it.

Regardless if it’s your spouse or both of you that’s experiencing a midlife crisis, what matters is that you are both willing to support and validate each other’s feelings.

It will also help a lot if both of you practice patience because a midlife crisis can last for a long time, and you will surely undergo unpleasant changes in your marriage.

Even more so if your spouse suddenly acts impulsively and shows hostile behaviors towards you and possibly to your kids as well.

3. Have fun together

As time passes by, your marriage might have lost its fun and started to feel boring, which can be the reason behind the midlife crisis.

What you and your spouse can hopefully do is spend more time together and find new things or activities that can bring back the fun in your marriage.

If you both feel like you are too old for dancing and doing TikTok videos, there are still more things around you that can be entertaining.

If you haven’t done it before, you and your spouse can go traveling, and if both of you are not too scared, you can try adrenaline-inducing activities like skydiving and zip-lining.

The thing is, getting old may feel like you lost half of your life, but you can use this time to experiment and discover new ways to enjoy life and your time with your spouse.

4. Seek professional help

Not all midlife crises are too extreme to the point that therapy will be needed. 

But if you feel like the midlife crisis that your marriage is going through is causing severe distress in your marriage, and the conflicts are starting to get rough, seek professional help.

Aside from the fact that it can avoid the consequence of the midlife crisis getting worse, the therapy can also help you or your spouse let go of the past and accept the present.

You can read more about it here.

Conclusion

Throughout your marriage life, you and your spouse will surely experience many situations, some of which are so extreme that they can lead to major life changes.

And, oftentimes, these changes will make you question your life decisions, whether you’re happy and content with wherever you are right now in your life.

This sudden realization and existential re-evaluation may lead to a midlife crisis which, consequently, may affect your marriage negatively.

Some marriages that underwent such a crisis ended up in divorce, but there is still a large percentage of marriages that did survive the midlife crises.

Although it’s going to be complicated and the sudden changes in you or your spouse can be quite unpleasant to deal with, it’s possible, but only if both of you work together to survive this midlife crisis.

Recommended: Can Therapy Help Save Your Relationship?

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