Are You Experiencing a Midlife Crisis or Simply Midlife Changes?

By John Teng

Life is full of experiences. Without them the journey would not be nearly as entertaining. Sometimes though, these experiences cause changes that seem to uproot everything you know. Change can be chaotic; but it doesn’t have to cause you to doubt your life or your relationships.

Let’s face it, guys like to be in control. They do not like to admit that they don’t know something (like where they are) and they don’t like to ask for help (or directions). So when life suddenly seems to veer out of control they can find themselves lost.

Men in their 40’s and 50’s face a lot of new challenges. Kids grow and leave home; job responsibilities become more leadership oriented; marriages ebb and flow; health issues arise; parents die; and society suddenly places more expectations on the middle age fellow to have his act together and begin sharing his knowledge with those who are younger. Men at this stage of life are supposed to have all the answers – but we don’t!

This can all leave us floundering in self doubt. If left alone with his thoughts, a middle age man will begin to turn inward, seeing every challenge as a crisis. The result can be his determination to finally get what he wants; no matter the cost.

Why the sudden change in the way a middle age man thinks and acts? It all has to do with his perception. He looks at life through a foggy windshield. Everything suddenly seems off. He isn’t happy and he does not know what to do about it. If only he would stop, take a deep breathe and ask for help, he would see that the road ahead is clear. Instead, too many men fall prey to the midlife crisis and begin acting out in the most inappropriate ways. This can destroy everything they worked so hard for over the years: their careers; their relationships; and even their finances.

So, how can a middle age man avert the crisis disaster? First, recognize that this time of life is wrought with change and challenges. That does not mean that your life is in crisis. Keep everything in perspective. Maybe you and your wife are having a hard time readjusting to a world without kids. It has probably been decades since it was just the two of you and you may have to reintroduce yourselves to one another. This doesn’t mean that your marriage is in trouble. In reality, this can be an exciting time of rejuvenation and reconnecting.

Be willing to accept this change (and the others to come) for what they are: new stages of life. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Maybe you aren’t the frisky lover you were in your 20’s that can go all night long. So what? The odds are that your new sexual enthusiasm you feel is more meaningful anyway. Two hours of sensual, meaningful sex is much better than 7 hours of just sex anyway. Don’t believe me? Give it a try!

One of the biggest misconceptions men have during a midlife crisis is that their life is a mess. If you are becoming frustrated at work; angry with your spouse; and disillusioned about life in general, it is time to take a step back and take a closer look. Rarely does everything in your life go wrong at the same time. When you begin to feel like it is, it may be due more to your perception than reality. Remember, the way you look at the challenges life brings is going to influence the way you react to them.

Take a closer look at the things that are bothering you and start to make small changes. Instead of having an affair, try and reconnect with your wife. If you aren’t happy with your job, look for another position, or consider trying something new. Don’t simply grab at whatever looks good. Be intentional with your approach. Consider the impact a job change will have on your family and your lifestyle and talk it over with your spouse. Understand why you want to make the change and think about ways to make it easier on everyone involved.

Trying to fix what is wrong in your life is not bad. That is a healthy approach. Suddenly adopting a new way of life and expecting those around you to follow suit isn’t.

Midlife is wrought with change. Some change you will create and others will be forced on you. How you decide to handle these changes will result in either a fuller, richer experience, or a crisis you have to fight your way out of.

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