The term ‘midlife crisis’ was coined by Elliott Jaques in 1965 and it is used to describe the period between the ages of 40 and 60 when there is dramatic self-doubt by some individuals.
Midlife crisis is caused by a cocktail of emotions which include a need for change and adventure, boredom with things and people, unhappiness with lifestyle choices and life itself, a desire for more intimate and passionate relationship/s, questioning life choices, anger with spouse and blaming them for feeling as if you are tied down, and confusion about who you are and where you are going.
These feelings may lead to alcohol and drug abuse, depression, an attempt to conceal physical bodily changes like baldness by wearing a toupee and wearing ‘hip’ clothes, buying expensive items such as sports cars, gadgets, and boats, and entering into a relationship with a younger person.
Cutting Ties with the Past
One way of dealing with midlife crisis is cutting all ties to the past. Remaining transfixed to the past while ignoring the present is like a disease. You should learn from your past, plan for your future, and live in the present. If you are having a problem letting go of your past, you should seek intervention. Family members and friends should be able to assist. Talking to someone who has gone through midlife crisis is particularly helpful. Seeking help from your spouse will let them know that you are not picking on them.
(I know what Che is trying to say here but I disagree with "cutting all ties to the past", as that would include friends and family! I think the idea is to stop re-living your glory days and be in the present. SF)
Midlife crisis is often unavoidable and so the best way out is to turn it into a positive experience. One way of doing this is by accepting change. If you are unhappy at your work place, consider changing careers. However, you should only change things that will not affect your finances, relationship(s), and other critical aspects of your life in a negative way.
Support from Spouse
If your spouse is going through a mid-life crisis, you should accept that it is happening and be as supportive as you can. A little empathy goes a long way in such situations. If you show your spouse that you still love him/her, he/she will realize that there is no need to hold on to the past. If your spouse takes on a hobby, you should consider joining him/her. Even if you do not agree with everything your spouse is doing, criticism will only push him/her away from you. However, you should not allow your spouse to engage in any activity that will hurt the children, the relationship, or the family’s finances. Children should also understand and support parents who are going through midlife crisis.
Finding Something to Look Forward To
You should find something to look forward to. Insecurity about the future is one of the major causes of midlife crisis. If you have children, you could look forward to being a grandfather or grandmother, spoiling them, and teaching them all that you have learnt in your years. If you are a businessman, you could look forward to expanding the business and leaving a legacy. If you have something to look forward to, you will not have time for regrets. You should find something you are passionate about because if you are busy, you will not dwell in the past. You could develop new hobbies such as reading and golf, start a business, and start writing.
In some cases, midlife crisis in men is as a result of an underlying physical problem. You should therefore go for regular checkups when you get signs of midlife crisis. Treatments include Testosterone Replacement Therapy, psychotherapy, taking a proper diet for increased energy levels, exercising regularly to prevent such things as erectile dysfunction, lethargy, depression, stress, and poor self image.
What do you think? How did you deal with your own or your spouse's mid-life crises? Is it still going on?! SF