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”.