The effects of women's menopause are well known. Yet men often experience a major transition at mid-life as well. Questioning one's life can be disturbing, leading to major job changes or divorce. But mid-life crisis can also be a time for healthy changes that lead to a fulfilling middle and older age.
During his 40's, if a man or women has been hard-working, the fruits of their labors-a home and family, material possessions-will probably surround them. Then, before anything dramatic happens, small nagging doubts may appear, perhaps followed by a series of dramatic, apparently irrational events leading up to great change. During it all, men and women ask themselves questions such as: Is this all there is? Am I a failure? Symptoms and behaviors during mid-life crisis can range from mild to severe, including:
- boredom and exhaustion, or frantic energy
- irritability, unexpected anger
- acting on alcohol, drug, food, or other compulsions
- greatly decreased or increased sexual desire
- sexual affairs, especially with someone much younger
- greatly decreased or increased ambition
Ten Ways To Cope
Coping with mid-life crisis takes time and energy, but it can help you find greater satisfaction and pleasure in life. The symptoms are not physically based: you can maintain an active sex life, keep your body in shape, and enjoy yourself as you mature.
- Accept and share your feelings. Aging is inevitable, but decline is not. With acceptance, you can allow yourself to grieve losses. By sharing your feelings, you can relieve fears and frustrations.
- Regularly spend time thinking about your life.
- Rediscover your spouse as a friend and lover. Spend time each week, even if it's just a few hours, away from children and distractions.
- Set new goals which are both realistic and exciting.
- Try new things: a sport, hobby, or class at the local college.
- Travel to a country which has always fascinated you.
- Volunteer for a non-profit organization.
- Spend special time each week with your children.
- Speak to a therapist or join a self-help group to work on compulsive behaviors such as eating, drinking, working, or sex.
- Improve your nutrition, stop smoking, and get your body in shape. See your doctor for a complete exam and advice about exercise.
Your Greatest Opportunity
Allow your mid-life to be a time of creative change. Although it may be painful at first, it can be your greatest opportunity for having the life you want or gaining a sense of peace.