Relationships Stage 6: Midlife Crisis
7 Stages of a Healthy Relationship
Midlife Crisis or Seven Year Itch
When and how the mid happens varies as the midlife crisis is very individual, but it generally follows the child stage when the couple should be feeling a sense of fulfillment. The time varies as well from the mid thirties to early fifties. It can come as a sense of restlessness, depression or a general feeling of meaninglessness. When it comes unexpected and the person, not being prepared, goes with the flow, this can be very destructive.
Some people go into a state of self-destruct, breaking up with their partner, family, changing jobs, all in a vain attempt at becoming the person they think they should be, or find some fulfillment or meaning in their lives.
The infatuation stage was an immature silly phase, and this one can
be as embarrassing. It can happen that one of the partners feels the
need to run from the relationship with an inane statement like, “I need
space,” and then run off and have an infatuation infused affair with
someone young enough to be their child. As if that will give “space?”
The causes of midlife crisis are varied and individual, some of which are:
- Feeling life is meaningless.
- Feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s life situation.
- A sense of lost opportunities in life.
- A regret of decisions made or not made in the past.
- There may be childhood issues that were never dealt with.
- Realizing they are getting older and feel they must have an adventure or change before it is too late.
- Confusion over who they are and what they want to do with their life.
- Fear from uncertainty of the future as the end of one’s working life approaches.
- Irritated with their spouse who is blamed for tying them down.
- Doubt that they ever loved their spouse and resentment over the marriage.
- An immature desire for the infatuation that comes with a new relationship.
- The sudden realization that one is not as young as one was a couple of decades earlier.
This is where immaturity, undeveloped by being stuck in some of the
earlier relationship stages, becomes a destructive force. Many develop
an unrealistic idea that change means “new” or that they have to start
over where they were 20 or 30 years earlier with a new partner to prove
to themselves that they are still attractive. What they are lacking is a
maturity that a healthy relationship could have given them.
My own midlife crises hit me suddenly. When I was in my twenteens I considered as a worst case scenario being 45 years old with a wife, children, a house with a mortgage and finding myself in a career I do not enjoy and unable to get out of. One day I was on a business trip visiting a factory outside the city where I grew up and spent my years as a twenteen. I finished early and had a few hours to spare before I needed to head to the airport. So I went to a park near where I used to live. I sat on a bench in the winter sun looking at the swings, between where we kids had played marbles, at the field where we flew kites and a church hall where we had local discos. Then I thought back at how I was then, my thoughts and aspirations. The realization that I created my worst case scenario hit me like a punch in my solar plexus.
It took four years and a lot of trauma, including changing employment, from the frying pan into the fire, before our family moved and started a new life. I have had three jobs since then and am now retired and starting a new career, which gives me more fulfillment than anything I have done before in my life. Our children are adults and have left the nest, and my wife and I now help underprivileged children. We can only help a few at a time, but building self-esteem in one child with a feeling of worthlessness, has a value that far exceeds helping a multinational chemical company increase profits.
We now lead a way of life with a low status, but high sense of fulfillment.
A midlife crisis is a normal part of the maturing process. It is not
unusual to experience some form of emotional transition during this time
of life. A healthy attitude to a midlife crisis is to take stock where
you are in life and make sensible adjustments in your life.
A couple having successfully negotiated the previous five stages should be able to support each other in this emotional and confusing phase and come through this stage in their relationship smoothly without making major life changes. What awaits when this stage is over is the third honeymoon.