You have an unexplained desire to buy a sports car. You’re happily married, but you have started fantasizing about younger women. You go on a crash diet, and dream about starting over, being free. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
All of these “quick fixes” are ways in which some men deal with coming face to face with their own mortality, more commonly known as “midlife crisis.”
It’s not easy to realize that we are all mortal. We start to panic, thinking there is little time left to finish out all the things that we wanted to do in our lives. But denial, or superficial actions like those mentioned above, waste time and energy. With patience, help and some self-exploration, you can restructure your life on a more satisfying, though mortal, foundation.
To help you understand the male midlife crisis, John M. Russell, Ph.D., a psychologist, explains some of the major themes that men experience during this phase of their lives.
Life as an Endless Burden
Some men have not made peace with personal issues such as their dependency needs, doubts about their masculinity, unrealistic ambitions and anxieties about being a family provider. Some even feel like “impostors,” expecting to be unmasked at any moment. Others avoid or delay “growing up,” as if being a child is the only way one can be truly happy and satisfied.
Adult life may be seen as “all work and no play,” or as a necessary sacrifice in order to provide children with their carefree lives. Yet, there are many “adult” satisfactions available, including challenging work, caring relationships, learning opportunities, friendships and spiritual renewal. One goal might be to see oneself as OK and the adult world as OK and learn to enjoy and appreciate adult life as a precious gift.
Unfinished Emotional “Business”
In the midst of an objectively “good” life, some feelings that have been buried in the unconscious may surface, much to everyone’s surprise. Since these emotions are being experienced in the present, it is difficult to understand that these reactions could stem from past conflicts.