Oh, the term mid-life crisis is used to define and excuse all sorts of behavior from infidelity to a random gambling spree that drains a savings account. What they are, how they are played out, and the effects that they have on your life and your relationships is partly dependant on what the mid life crisis is about. Even so, a mid life crisis is no different from a teen becoming rebellious and experimental – it is a phase of growth and transformation usually driven by a sincere sense of lack in our lives.
The comedic picture of a middle aged balding man going for hair implants and suddenly daunting ‘hip’ clothes in order to refurbish their sense of self often come to mind when you hear the term mid-life crisis. For women, its boob jobs and younger men, a gym membership and a fleeting grasp at freedom that has been restricted for so many years before. Either way it is important to understand why it happens to even the best of us.
When we are very young, still under the roofs provided by our parents we long for freedom. This freedom to live as we wish and do as we please – leaving the front door open while the air conditioning is on (without having to be screamed at) is the one thing that drives us each and every day of our lives. Then suddenly, we are there – and because we can’t afford to PAY for the air-conditioning, we don’t use it. Still, the freedom pushes us to pursue the adult life that looks so attractive. The next stage is catapulted by career decisions and big mistakes as well as a host of relationships as we seek the one that will make us complete. Before you know it, you were married, having children and mowing grass on the weekends rather than partying with friends. All that freedom you just couldn’t wait to have has been restricted again by the responsibilities of being the adult that you just couldn’t wait to be! The next decade or so is a blur of to-do lists and birthday parties, family gatherings and living paycheck to paycheck. Our stress levels increase, our libidos decrease, and our sense of self (for men and women) get lost in the endless flow of life.
Then, one morning – we wake up, look in the mirror, and realize that what we see is only a small shell of the person we dreamed to be and used to be. It is the sum of all the dreams we had but never took the time to realize and the face in that same mirror, a lost seems unrecognizable. Yes, cry me a river….but that is the way life goes.
In a moment that can give you whiplash, you resent and repent – deeming that this is the pivotal moment where life will begin again. Perhaps you have suffered from some health problems. Perhaps graying hair or the fact that the kids don’t even like you anymore is what drives you. Perhaps the fact that your lovemaking has become monotonous and redundant or that your spouse seems to look at you with the same way they do furniture -drives you to invoke this change. It’s called a mid-life crisis for the simple reasons that it happens to occur when you are at the middle point of your life. Most often and for most, this happens between 35 and 50.
Women normally hit a mid-life crisis earlier than men. Their mid-life crisis is preempted by empty nest syndrome and can start when the kids begin middle school. Suddenly there are fewer demands on mom’s time and with so much time to think and reflect, she realizes all she has given up to be the best mom possible. A woman’s mid-life crisis is normally about self re-discovery than sowing wild oats. It is about feeling independent again and re-identifying herself after so many years of being someone else’s mom and wife. Women become powerful during this time in their life, often living out their dreams, and pursuing careers and creative outlets that have been put on the back burner. Unfortunately, they also begin to resent their husbands for the sheer fact that they have forgotten they are something else than a caregiver. In men’s defense, they only do this because their wife teaches them to by taking over the house and the family so early on.
For men, the mid life crisis may be a bit different. They too will start taking care of themselves and their own needs. Typically, this is when men who don’t normally think of having an affair, do so. Not because they don’t love their families or their wives, but because they want to feel young again. Age affects men differently than it does women and the side effects are often slow to surface except for on the inside. Where a woman battles appearance her entire life – most men don’t give it much thought. Women too will be more prone to having an affair during a mid-life crisis – however, the reasons are different.
Any way you look at it – a mid-life crisis really can be a good thing. It has been given a bad name by all the indications of infidelity. If a couple remains open and communicative however, this crisis can actually repair and bring a couple back together again. They may be rekindled with all the reasons they fell in love in the first place and have more time to spend together enjoying each other’s interests. Trouble happens when one-half of the whole takes flight without cluing in their partner out of embarrassment. It can be difficult to suddenly talk to your partner after years of silence and ignoring issues.
Human beings are evolving creatures. From the moment we are born, we are changing and molding to the environment around us. It is impossible to feel satisfied in life unless we ride these winds of change to see where they take us. Missed dreams, forgotten opportunities, regrets, and wrong choices can make any person of a certain age feel as though life is getting away from them. The mid-life crisis, while not a cure – can be the beginning of a new, better and more self fulfilling (not selfish) life that is crafted by personal dreams and aspirations. It is simply part of the grander picture of learning who we are – which changes depending on where we are in life.