My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun -Ecclesiastes 2:10–11
Very profound, those two verses. ‘I worked and I got my reward. I reviewed it all. Meaningless, everything. Anything gained? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. A chasing after the wind.’
Turning 40 was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I felt l had a new lease of life. I was ready to explore, try things out. Discover, anything that would give me some freshness to life. It was during this time that my blogging journey got underway. I also started focusing on my exercise regimen. And I rekindled my love towards reading more books.
That’s not to say it’s been smooth sailing. Far from it. There have been moments I have questioned myself on whether I am making a great impact in the world, especially where my family and career are concerned. There have also been moments where I have gone through a phase of self-identity crisis. Moments I worry more than is necessary about how I look.
Even my husband, who is a year older than I, has been reflecting on his life. He has at times wished that certain things were different for him. Had he made the right decisions this far, he wondered. He has felt like giving up in certain areas because those thoughts weighed him down. Would he have changed some aspects of his life? Probably.
According to Wikipedia, mid-life is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals. This condition may occur from the ages of 45–64. However, other studies claim that it is from 33-58 years of age. Midlife crises affect men and women differently, lasting about 3–10 years in men and 2–5 years in women. A midlife crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging with a combination of changes in life, problems, or regrets over work or career (or lack thereof). This is a phase that is characterized by an emotional crisis.
A man assesses whether his life is meaningful or not. Does he have material possessions worth recognition? Is his career skyrocketing? Is he respected in society, and more so in his own home? If this is not happening, could it be as a result of other areas of his life not working as per his expectations? Why? Because men tend to feel quite inadequate when they feel that they would have done better, achieved more with their lives.
They begin to realize that they may not attain what they had hoped to. There is self-doubt, regrets and/or disappointments. One is assumed to be more financially stable than the younger males. He is seen as being capable of commanding interest among the ladies, even in instances where he, ordinarily, would not have a chance, were it not for the money. He works out more than ever.
Erectile dysfunction becomes a nightmare. He is not able to rise to the occasion as he used to, making his frustration lead to him seeking help from products used for such purpose. He guards his mobile phone constantly. Or he meets someone and lets you know that he is no longer interested in you. He changes his dress code. He could also develop an interest in making expensive purchases and utilizing family resources wrongfully. His peers could also be doing well and he desires solitude.
But mid-life crisis isn’t just a preserve for the men in as much as women don’t hit similar headlines.
A woman may lose interest in things that mattered to her. Even after achieving certain goals in life, she feels that’s still not enough. She did all she could for her children, losing her identity in the process as it was based on them. With her children all grown, she chooses to focus on other interests since she felt she hadn’t done much for herself.
We could go on with numerous examples.
Hasty decisions and drastic changes could happen in this phase. For instance, leaving one’s spouse because of lack of interest or feeling like the relationship isn’t adding any value. For a woman, she may stop caring about how she looks, or end up caring too much so as to remain attractive, leading to profitability targets of many cosmetic companies. She may still decide to hang out with different company that makes her excited.
The truth is there are many families affected by mid-life crisis than we care to imagine. The effects have been devastating. Families have been left destitute. It is very important for us to identify when this crisis comes calling so as to be in a better position to provide support to those around us. But how, you may ask? How can we be there for each other?
Support your spouse. Mid-life crisis is not a straightforward matter. Be there for them.
Understand that change is happening in your spouse’s life, whether you like it or not. It may cause you to change as well, though not a necessity.
Don’t take it personal. It’s not about you. Be considerate as you air your fears about what is going on to avoid pushing your spouse away.
Focus on what is within your control. Things may become unbearable at home as your spouse may be pushing you away. Focus on activities that will give you a positive attitude. If you have kids, be present for them, for they may not understand what is going on.
Seek help when things get bad in your relationship.
And Pray! Pray that God will minister to your spouse and have an impact in his or her life during this period.
Kindly also understand that even as some of us go through mid-life crisis, we should be careful not to excuse any form of bad behavior like cheating on spouses or financial and emotional infidelity.
Ask yourself who your foundation is. I hope it is God. I know trusting God to be with you during these moments can be challenging and confusing. However, He can remind you of who He is to you and guide you in that phase so that you’re not going through this crisis by yourself.
Lastly know this: There are many who find themselves in a mid-life crisis who do well in life.
There is hope.
The person I am married to keeps changing. The problem is that I am stuck at the person I married yet he or she has already changed. – Unknown