Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Somewhere during the “Rock-n-Roll Years”, we encounter an inevitable speed bump. For some, that bump in the road is barely worth mentioning. For others, it is a major obstacle to overcome.
Midlife! We all will go through it. There is no question that this is a huge topic. And, to condense it down without minimizing the scope, impact or seriousness of it, is a challenge. However, for me, the simpler something can be explained or presented, the better I can grasp it. And if I can just get the “nuts & bolts” version, all the better. As I see it, a midlife crisis can, in a majority of cases, be summed up to just one thing – a loss of personal perspective!
Perspective, as it applies to this subject, deals with our mental view of life, ourselves, our place in the world, our past, present, and our future. Somewhere along the way, there is the potential for us in losing sight of this perspective. In the process, we lose our smile (that inner joy). And, in so doing, lose ourselves and who we are.
From the comedy movie “City Slickers”
With the various complexities of adulthood, come the risks of getting depressed with our current state of affairs as we now view them through an altered state. Dreams unfulfilled, life not as it was planned, future outlook a blank, unrecognized fear of aging. For others, the sense that time is running out that drives people to desperate measures.
We know something is amiss. Our joy is missing. Our smile is gone. We seem adrift, lacking passion, and possibly a sense of worth or value. As we internalize an emotional rollercoaster, we search then for a means in recapturing what we feel we lost, or look to a time in our lives when things seemed steady. This takes on many forms.
Wishing to go back to a simpler time. Relive the past in some form or fashion. It may be living in denial as a means of postponing reality. And, there are the uncharacteristic actions that are taken. The affairs, the fancy car purchases, the change in clothing, tattoos and body piercings, the sudden change in character such as an attempt to act young again or like someone else. Major life changes such as moving suddenly, divorcing, cutting ties with those you know, making erratic decisions, hanging out with a different crowd and expensive spending.
For women, an added component is “menopause”. This typically begins by the mid-’40s and can last up to seven years. Hot flashes, chills, night sweats, fatigue, change in libido, crankiness, sleep issues, and weight gain only accentuate the mood swings women experience.
One can only imagine what life might be like if both the husband hits a mid-life crisis at the same time that the wife is hitting menopause. The closer in age, the greater the chance. I’m thinking it isn’t pretty.
I still vividly recall a conversation years ago that Yvonne and I had with a nurse that we knew. As we were talking, Yvonne began to describe some symptoms she was experiencing to our nurse friend, hoping to get some expert opinion. The nurse asked Yvonne how old she was. At the time Yvonne was in her early 40’s. The nurse looked at her and said, “You are experiencing the start of menopause.” Clueless to what that really meant, what it involved and what I could do to help, I asked: “So, how long does it last, a few weeks a month or two?” The nurse, with a deadpan face and matter-of-fact manner, simply said: “Oh, about seven years!” I blurted out, “What?” She proceeded to explain what Yvonne could expect, naturally covering what women go through. Obviously, with no experience on what men face during this time, her information for me was light.
This blog surely is not meant to be a deep dive into the topics of mid-life crisis or menopause. It is to focus on the dynamics of relationships as they navigate through it and what are some simple principles that may benefit a marriage to remain stable, healthy and successful.
I mentioned perspective earlier. Perspective, referring to attitude, can change how we go through this period. Please do not confuse replacing reality with a perspective of denying reality, but rather what kind of attitude we are going to have in facing it.
With the onset of the midlife years comes with it some new realities. The increased chance of facing age discrimination in dealing with employment and the workplace (although this is an unspoken reality no one in business will openly admit), how people view you, how you view yourself, the change in sex drive and the impact of aging on the body such as menopause.
How we handle midlife changes will depend on our perspective. And, I would add, our willingness to embrace the reality of where we are in life as it relates to our age. So here are some simple principles to consider applying during this period:
Just like the four seasons of the year, with each one having its own beauty and benefits, so it is with our different seasons in life. If you struggle with aging, it may be that your perspective of growing older is one that is negative. Aging is inevitable. The sooner we can embrace that fact, the healthier it is on our emotions. And, the quicker we can look around to see its benefits and live in the present rather than our attempt to embrace a time since past.
Keeping a youthful outlook on life is key. Keep yourself young at heart. Just because your body is changing does not mean it is dead. So, you cannot run the 40-yard dash anymore. But you can bowl, play softball, try your hand at competitive chess and so many other opportunities. All you need to do is learn to adapt. And, change your perspective about what is and is not possible. Just find a new passion for a new age in your life.
The Bible says that “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” In other words, laughter is good medicine, and being happy is “heart-healthy!” Don’t lose your sense of humor and your joy. Our home and our marriage relationship should be a major source of our happiness. If not, identify what is making you unhappy and why. I would recommend that you start with the person in the mirror first prior to branching out in your “investigation.” Then once something is identified, find a solution. Yea, things are changing. Get over it! There are plenty of things to be happy about and that can still bring you joy. We all have a choice, dwell on the negatives or focus on the positives. If you say that you do not have any positives going on in your life, then I say, it’s time to go out and make some! Focusing on the negatives in life only brings depression. Being middle-aged is like the cup half full or half empty. True, your life may be half over, but by only changing your perspective you can also consider that you have another half of your life yet to live. That is potentially another 40 years or more. What are you going to do with it?
Men, practice patience with your wife as she goes through menopause. Give her space and know it is nothing personal. She will need your help. Keep a proper perspective in mind that it is only temporary. Now, you may need to remind yourself of this twenty or more times a day, but hey, you can do it, yea? And by all means, buy her 2 small fans. One for her to sit on her desk at work, or a handheld. And one for the nightstand on her side of the bed. You both will be happy, but for different reasons, trust me!
Ladies, your husband may be questioning his value and worth during mid-life and find he is at a loss. Be a steady hand he can hold on to as he will need your support while he gets his bearing again, and a renewed perspective on life. You don’t necessarily have to understand and pepper him for answers. Some fellas will share, some just want to work it out on their own. However, you may consider applying a helpful nudge here and there as way to help him as he looks to “work it out on my own”. No need to take any credit. You are helping each other.
Allow what you are feeling or going through to be a motivator for making positive, and possibly, needed change. A midlife crisis can be a wake-up call for us to take stock of where we are and what we are doing with our lives and relationship. This wake-up call may be what is needed to breathe new life into your marriage. However, change should be made purposefully, with a plan, with clear perspective and with spouse support.
Midlife crisis. If we change our perspective (our view) regarding aging, we will go far in reducing or eliminating its impact. And increase our ability to truly enjoy this season in our lives. It is all up to you!
Life is a gift! So, live it!
We will wrap up “The Rock-n-Roll Years” next time with “The Golden Years” thereafter.
Until next time, we wish you LOVE, JOY & PEACE!
Brad & Yvonne