When we think of how to avoid a midlife crises, the first image that comes to mind is of a 40+ year-old man in a red, shiny hot-rod, running off with a younger woman to find himself. The popular representations of male midlife crisis in the media paint these men as childish and selfish. 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 of midlife crisis in men misses the point in many ways.
Why Male Midlife Crisis Happens
Firstly, this stereotypical image does not address the underlying emotional, physiological, and societal reasons for male midlife crisis. Namely, that men’s bodies experience an abrupt and significant change in ability right around age 40. Additionally, many men grapple with their own mortality around this age, as they watch their own fathers getting old or dying. Any contemplation of how to avoid a midlife crisis must deal with the question of whether you will be able to live the rest of your life the way you want to.
Secondly – 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 – are all part of the set-up that creates the phenomenon of male midlife crisis.
How to Deal with Midlife Crisis
When it comes to how to deal with midlife crisis, we believe it is completely avoidable. However, it takes a commitment to a different kind of relationship agreement than most couples have. You must be willing to throw away your agreements and assumptions and start fresh. Then, each partner needs to admit their own desires to themselves. They need be willing to rock the boat with skillful, honest, and open communication about what they actually want.
Next, it takes a commitment to celebrate each other’s’ desires no matter what they are. And finally, it takes the courage to decide whether or how you can fit these into your lives.
If you – whether you’re single, in a relationship, or a partner – want assistance with navigating a male midlife crisis, we can help. This topic is also covered in our book “Coming Together”.
I realise I started going through the start of a MLC just after 35. I felt like I had done everything in life I wanted to and had reached the top of a mountain and was looking down the other side at nothing. It was then that awful phrase came to mind “over the hill”! I went into a weird space after that. I think it was a depression. my life on the outside was perfect – truly. I jokingly told people i had SBS or “spoilt brat syndrome” which i think is a part of MLC, because to others it looks like you have everything and what cause do you have to complain? When I volunteered to help others my focus was removed from myself, that helped – but what triggered me to write in regard to affairs was this: a strong desire for a school reunion. Oh guess what? I even organised one – out of desperation or necessity or a long-held wish to prove myself that I wasn’t the high school geek anymore. Now what I learnt from it was this: my beautiful patient husband came to it with me. That act alone showed he cared about my needs to visit the past, as well as warded off any potential danger that may have been in the room at that time, and show to all and sundry he was there for me. Should I have said no to the school reunion? No, it felt like something i needed to do, and I would have always wondered if I should have done it in hindsight if I hadn’t. Maybe it would have also sparked a kind of rebellion in me making the desire to revisit those younger days even stronger. But what actually happened afterwards was that I could close that chapter. I could move on. I had done it, it was boring and uneventful, the years of planning weren’t worth it, it was poorly attended, I could see it for what it was – but my husband was the highlight of the evening, and I got to dress up and go out for the night. Girls if you’re feeling like you just have to go out and party take your man with you if you can! I can see a lot of sense in doing some hot dates with your spouse for this reason. Actually my lovely man also came with me on a couple of other occasions as a support where ex-fellas were. I would have struggled to see him with an ex-girlfriend, but with him by my side there was no cause for alarm over temptation, and he got to see what he had been up against in the past. And it is utterly delightful in a horrible way to hear ex-boyfriends get the ire of your delectable hubby for ever daring to have left you, and pointing out just how useless they really were in your life.