We commonly use midlife crisis to refer to the unexplainable behavior of men as they pass through their fifties. They transit a phase of acting different, out of character to their spouses. As Gail Sheehy reports in her 1976 book, Passages, both sexes go through a series of passages throughout life. Entangled together for our purpose here, middle age and midlife passages generally run in that order from ages 40 to 60 for non-executive and 50 to 70 for executive-type men. During short periods within those spans, a man reassesses and reconfigures his life, sometimes against his best interest in the eyes of his spouse.
Her Highness Yellowblue asks me to share what I can to help deal with her husband. So, I offer these thoughts.
- The self-admiration he gets from accomplishing what he works on routinely.
- His work life as less enjoyable; wonders how he got there and why he’s trapped in it.
- Whether past effort justifies his significance in life.
He seeks to:
- Give up the past, live a good life now and not 15 years from now.
- Let his feelings come out as more carefree and subject to change.
- Dissolve the success model of his past, restore some adolescent habits, and live in the ‘right now’
He’s ready to:
- Revise his life to make it more enjoyable with less effort; become more efficient living a good life.
- Enjoy more independence from others, welcome different attachments.
- Move his thinking from us-ness and more toward me-ness.
- Reviews his thoughts about aging and imminent death.
- Displaces his inner contradictions from dependence on spouse (and does it faster than she can adjust).
- Finds more contrast than likeness with parents, spouses, and children and tends to reevaluate his life more independently in those relationships.
No two guys are alike, timing is unpredictable, and spousal reaction can become terrifying. It’s just another routine midlife crisis for his spouse to deal with.