When we think of men’s mid-life crises, what often comes to mind is a 40+ year old man in a red, shiny hot-rod running off with some younger woman to find himself. The popular representations of this in the media paint these men as childish and selfish and the movie fantasy is generally that he wises up, realizes the error of his ways, repents and returns to his wife and family. We think this popular depiction misses the point in so many ways. Firstly, it does not address the underlying emotional, physiological and societal reasons for this phenomenon. Namely, that men’s bodies experience an abrupt and significant change in ability right around age 40, many men’s fathers are getting old or dying when they are in their 40s and men are questioning if they will be allowed to live their lives the way they want to before they themselves die and, finally, that the definition of what it is to be a “good husband” and “good father” rarely leaves space for men to continue doing the things they love to do in life without being deemed selfish and uncaring.
Men who live their lives based on obligations and the women who support them in doing this (and who don’t explore their own personal needs and desires) are all part of the set-up that creates the phenomenon of the mid-life crises. We believe the mid-life crises is completely avoidable, however, it takes a commitment to a different kind of relationship agreement then the one most couples have. Firstly, it takes a commitment on the part of both partners to admit your own desires to yourself. Then it takes a willingness to rock the boat with skillful, honest and open communication about what it is you actually want. Next, it takes a commitment to celebrate each others desires no matter what they are. And, finally, it takes the courage to decide, as a team, whether or how they can fit in your lives and enhance the relationship. If you are willing to create space for all of who you are and all of who your partner is in your relationship, no one needs to run away in order to get what they want!