What do you think of when you hear the term midlife crisis? Most people associate a midlife crisis with men buying little red sports cars and dating younger women, which is largely because that is how we see it portrayed in the media. However, women are actually as likely as men to experience a midlife crisis.
The reasons behind a midlife crisis are very different for men versus women. Men will typically experience a midlife crisis because they become afraid. Afraid of:
- Aging - specifically the changes associated with aging
- Becoming ill
- Not achieving the goals they had set
Women, on the other hand, typically experience a midlife crisis for a few different reasons.
- They reach their 40s or 50s, and realize they now have opportunities to do things in life that they were unable to do when they were raising a family. The children are now usually grown and she is experiencing freedom not felt for quite some time.
- Alternatively, biological changes, namely menopause, can trigger a midlife crisis. Menopause for women has psychological effects too that can cause depression, and trigger thoughts of disappointment associated with how she has lived her life and where she currently is in her life.
Midlife crisis can often lead to divorce, mostly because people are trying to flee their problems, and end up having affairs, turning to alcohol and partying, or other destructive habits and addictions. There are positive ways to handle a midlife crisis though, and here is a list of things to do that you might find helpful:
- Get a physical checkup. You should definitely speak with your doctor, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. Physical causes can be either identified or eliminated, and your doctor can talk through a treatment plan that is right for your symptoms.
- Feel free to make changes. Positive changes, that is! If you realize your true desire is to travel the world, open your own business, etc. talk it over with your spouse and identify what is practical and achievable. The key is to talk it over with someone you trust before making major decisions.
- Set new goals. Midlife is a good time to assess your goals, and revise accordingly. Not achieving goals should not be looked at as failure, but instead as an opportunity to reassess, revise, and plan a new path.
- Don't give in to fear. Men especially tend to experience fear during a midlife crisis, and it can be overwhelming. It can be hard, but don't panic and allow anxiety to take over. That often leads to bad decisions, based on emotions, that you will likely regret later.
- Speak with a therapist. By all means, don't be embarrassed to speak with a marriage and family therapist. Talking through your feelings and emotions can help you sort through them, and put you on a positive path to solving your midlife crisis. Alternatively, stuffing your feelings is a surefire way to head towards divorce.
Recognizing the signs of a midlife crisis and making a conscious effort to take positive steps in dealing with it will help ensure that your midlife crisis doesn't lead to divorce!
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