Midlife crisis, a way out | Sunday Observer

Midlife crisis, a way out

18 July, 2021

It is quite natural for people to question their lives as they enter a period called midlife transition. This usually takes place when you are between 35 and 55. The idea that life will end at some time will bother some people. They may also question whether they have achieved anything worthwhile in their lives. However, there are people whose passage to middle age is relatively calm.

They view their accomplishments positively and proceed through midlife unmindful of negative thoughts. Such people usually find their forties and fifties a rewarding period. They will get involved in their family matters with added interest. However, midlife crisis affects a large number of people.

Imitating missing parts of youth

When you find yourself in the throes of midlife crisis you become depressed. Some people squander their money saved for a rainy day buying expensive cars, going for a hair-transplant or reverting to the behaviour of their youth. They begin to spend more time with their friends or flirt with women half their age. Sometimes men want to divorce their wives, change their jobs or do many other rash activities such as drinking heavily and gambling. They do not understand the gravity of their behaviour because they find themselves in turmoil.

When their physical strength begins to deteriorate they try various methods to restore it. Anne Brelsford, author of “The Marital Midlife Crisis” says, “Men feel that life has passed them by. They are overwhelmed by a lot of fear when their professional life suddenly feels meaningless. It can lead to a downward spiral.”

When you are young you never think of midlife crisis, old age or death. But you do not remain young forever. When you approach midlife you cannot dream about success anymore. You begin to repent over missed opportunities for higher education and professional success. All these can be very depressing. A study by the University of South Australia has pointed out two broad personality types who are at risk.

They are logical thinkers and those who are intuitive. According to the research, about two-thirds of men fall into the first category. They are mindful about career success but they do not have a rich inner life. Although they have achieved their goals; they remain unhappy in their midlife. Those who fall into the second category have a greater awareness of their achievements. They are less likely to go off the rails in life.

Dramatic changes

Midlife crises affect both men and women in different ways. Unlike men, women have a stronger social support system. When they feel frustrated their relatives and friends will come to their rescue. If they are free from family responsibilities they will turn their attention to religious activities or social service. However, women experience dramatic changes in life during the post-menopause period.

The cessation of periods is usually accompanied by hot flushes, night sweating, and a number of illnesses such as headaches, insomnia, indigestion, breathlessness, weight gain or weight loss, dizziness and muscular aches. A recent study found that one in five women feel moody, irritable and depressed. Sometimes reduced femininity might create an emotional distance between couples.

More than women, men are the real victims of midlife crisis. It can affect them in different forms. Most men feel that they are no longer ‘Supermen’ in their midlife. The death of close relatives and friends will make them think that life has no purpose. Although they wish to do something new, age becomes a barrier. There is a tendency for them to get addicted to drinking and smoking. A man in his forties told a counsellor that there was no excitement in his family life. According to psychologists, marital happiness returns to certain families when children get married and leave their parents. This is sometimes known as a second honeymoon.

Most men become prisoners in their hormones during the midlife crisis. They experience a slight drop in testosterone levels which might lead to declining sex drive. When this happens, they show signs of lethargy and irritability. When they find that their virility is on the wane, most men panic. According to recent studies, there is no need to panic because they can seek medical help. Psychological counselling is another way to solve the problem. An experienced counsellor will show that they are at a crossroads. Psychological counselling has saved many marriages from crumbling down.

No need to panic

As midlife crisis is a natural phenomenon, there is no need to panic. If you can maintain mutual respect and affection, partners in a marriage will be able to face midlife crisis effectively. Another way is to get involved in something that gives you happiness. There are many things men can do such as gardening, creative writing, painting or learning how to play a musical instrument. If you waste your time doing nothing, you will naturally become a victim of midlife crisis. Rob Brandenburg who got married late in his life went back to university to study counselling and psychology and ended up completing a Doctorate on the male experience of midlife. Thereafter he started counselling other men to get through their midlife crises. He says midlife is about the inner journey – it’s a fantastic opportunity.

Anybody feeling midlife crisis should not ignore it. When a man shows no interest in his wife, the latter might think that he is having an affair with another woman. In reality, most men are terrified that they are sexually below expectation. This is the time that you should seek medical help. It is estimated that one in ten men will experience erectile dysfunction at some stage in his life. There is no need to panic as we are living in the age of science.

Crises are not confined to middle-aged men and women. We experience them in our youth and old age. What we have to remember is that it is not the wealth we have amassed but the quality of our personal relationships that counts. Avoid pursuing unattainable goals in your midlife and be content with your achievements.

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