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Midlife crisis – does it exist?

23 January 2014 4 comments

A couple of years ago I was on a plane flying across to Sydney when I became entrenched in a conversation with a woman sitting alongside of me. She was in her early 60's and had just left her husband of circa 40 years, and she was extremely excited about her immediate future. Apparently she just woke up one day and thought "life is just flying by and I'm bored watching it happen". She explained to me that she was planning to travel around Australia and then the world, all by herself. I remember thinking she was having a late midlife crisis!

Midlife crisisMidlife crisis

I've never really pondered exactly what the term midlife crisis means although for men I've always assumed it was a period in their life, around their 40's or 50's, and they decide to do things like buy a sports car, have an affair with a younger lady (or at least try to flirt with younger ladies at every opportunity), change their hair style, wax their chest and groin, wear cooler and hipper clothes or join a gym (when they've never really been into exercise). I'm quite sure many wives have accused their husbands of being in a midlife crisis at some stage of their marriage.

Perhaps midlife crisis is the same as 'the 7 year itch'? Supposedly this is the magic number of years before marriages, or relationships, often go through a difficult 'patch'. Why is that? Do marriages and relationships simply go stale after a certain number of years? Do partners become complacent or just bored? Do they lose the passion in their relationship which predisposes them to having a crisis of some sort? I don't know all the answers but I do know that passion in a relationship often diminishes over time and if you don't want it to diminish to the point where you're simply 'good friends' then you need to be proactive and make some changes.

Maybe partners grow apart and head in different directions over time and this is wrongly believed to be midlife crisis?

When I broke up with my ex wife nearly 2 years ago a number of my friends actually told me they would have broken up with their wives if they didn't have kids. This of course incited debate as to the merits of this logic (note I don't have kids). Whilst I believe it's admiral I also think it's foolish, to a certain degree, for couples to stay in an unhappy relationship just because they have children (unless of course they have good reason to believe they'll work through their issues). For those friends who told me they were unhappy with the marriage, and only stayed married because of children, I had put it down to midlife crisis. I believed they were at the cross roads of their life and they simply wanted change, but having children was just an excuse for inaction on their behalf.

A few months ago I wrote a post about cheating where I touched upon why men and women sometimes cheat in a relationship. I did cite a midlife crisis as a reason men sometimes cheated (not that I advocate cheating) however now I'm not so sure if there's such a thing as midlife crisis. I've now come to the conclusion that it's not so much to do with someone's age that makes it a crisis, it's simply a point in someone's life when they realise that they want more. They want more passion, more excitement, more romance, more adventure or more whatever. This could happen to someone in their 20's, 60's or anytime! And I think it should simply be called a life crisis.

It's easy to say 'live life everyday like it's your last'. Rock stars probably do, but for the average person it's simply not feasible. So how do you ensure you don't end up in a life crisis? I can see there are many different psychological factors that could make a person believe they're facing a life crisis; from job dissatisfaction, a family or close friend's death, divorce, or in some instances age itself when we begin to think more about our own mortality. These 'tipping points' can make someone reflect and reassess where they're at in life and what they want. Optimists, like myself, would call this an opportunity for personal growth whereas pessimists might head down the depression path.

Whilst I'm probably not qualified to give anyone advice on how to avoid a life crisis I can tell you what I'm doing to try to avoid one:

  • Staying positive – Whilst I'm not that spiritual I do believe in the power of positive thinking. No one ever won a race thinking they were going to come second.
  • Staying fit and healthy – I do a lot of exercise. I eat well, sleep well and don't smoke. I like to have a few drinks and party, but not excessively.
  • I find time for my passions – I love the beach and try to get down there to surf on my stand up paddle board or wave ski on the weekends.
  • I find time for holidays – In the past I've always worked too hard without holidays. Those days are behind me. I'm now trying to holiday as often as I can. This year I'm planning a number of trips including going to the US, Portugal and Positano. Whilst I love going away internationally I equally enjoy going down south to stay at my holiday beach house in Yallingup.
  • I try to not stress too much – I have a great team at with many staff that've been with the company long term. This helps minimize work stress. I find walking through Kings Park, where I live, helps me combat stress. Similarly boxing, surfing and the pursuit of other passions helps keep me grounded and chilled.
  • Action the bucket list - I don't plan to wait until I'm in my twilight years before I start striking through the list. I put my list together a few years ago and am working my way through it now.
  • Continue with adventures – 4 years ago I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and then in 2012 I trekked the Kokoda Track. Both adventures were seriously physically and mentally tough! I'm regularly toying with ideas for new adventures.
  • Dealing proactively with dramas. A lot of people are afraid of confrontation. Whilst I don't particularly love it I have learnt that I'd rather deal with small dramas before they become big dramas. And when it comes to relationships I'm positive this strategy works best.

On my death bed I want to regret the things I did in life...not the things I didn't do!

I've really only touched on the topic of midlife crisis. I'm hoping it may start you thinking and perhaps even encourage some debate. Of recently I find myself still 'counseling' friends who are having affairs, or who've been caught out having affairs, so the topic is quite relevant for me in that regard. It's easy to think the grass is always greener on the other side; however it's often not the case. As always I'd love to hear your feedback.

Next week I plan on getting back onto the subject of sex!

Delivering passion and pleasure.


sheridanb 23 January 2014 at 5:40 pm
Very good article Mal and well thought out. I know there will be quite a few points there that strike a chord with many people, myself included.
Bo bredberg 24 January 2014 at 12:12 am
There is a whole host of reasons men or women cheat on their partners. One foremost reason which comes to mind is that the partner is no longer sexual active which to me makes a lot of sense. The other factor is sexual boredom ( same old thing ). Thirdly either one has greater sexual need than the partner and then there is the 4 % who cannot do without sex just to mention a few. Some have simple solutions others have not but in some cases it could be solved by communication.
scoobydoc 25 January 2014 at 10:53 am
i always joke with my husband that i am his mid life crisis lol. he was 39 when we met, 40 when we got together and 41 when we got married and had our daughter (his only child). before that he was living the single life, partying, the occasional girlfriend and working. i am his first serious relationship and we've been together 12 years and married for 10. we were friends before we became lovers and are still great friends as well as great lovers. when we do get time to fool around we make the most of the time we get and make sure each other is fully satisfied.
Virgin Blogger 26 January 2014 at 11:24 am
Another reason not mentioned here is the level of intellect between the couple. As we mature its often the case where by the Man is the bread winner and is in business or an exec level and his mind is stimulated by the intellectual people he deals with daily. It's here a gap in the level of intellect between the partners broadens and hence conversation becomes boring.... Just my thoughts Virgin Blogger:-) tx MAL
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