Why do men seem to be more likely to have midlife crises than women?
Do they fear death? Afraid that this (wife, kids, career) is all there is to life? Or are they just bored with their wonderful routine lives?
A significant life event, like the death of a parent, having a "big" birthday, or your last child going off to college, can trigger the first thoughts of Damn, I'm getting old.
But it's how men choose to deal with the midlife transition that turns their experience from another life change into a crisis. The stereotype holds true for many: joining the Hair Club for Men, buying a little red sports car, having an affair with a younger woman. All things to prove that they are still young and vital.
Tim Robbins, whose split from Susan Sarandon after a 23-year relationship shocked many, says his midlife crisis was set off by the failure of a film project and caused him to "start thinking about how many years you've got 'left.'" And those years didn't include his life partner. But it did include recording an album and moving to Los Angeles.
Contrast a man's reaction to getting older with a woman's. A woman, aging just as rapidly as a man, will react to the same life events differently. She'll do some things to make herself feel better like get a new haircut, go away on a girls' weekend, start a new exercise regimen, or increase focus on her career.
Women take care of themselves. But they are less likely to do something that will jeopardize their marriage because the marriage isn't inherently the problem. Dealing with the psychological aspects of life change and growing older is.
So what are some things that both men and women can do to avert the midlife crisis and have a healthy transition into middle age?
- Make two life lists, one for you and one for you and your partner. Write down things that you would like to accomplish or experience in the latter half of life. Then set about achieving them.
- Be proactive about assessing your work, from being a stay-at-home mom to a 50-hour a week career woman. What is it that gives you fulfillment?
- Take care of yourself physically. Exercise, eat right, and do things that make you feel good about your appearance. Looking good, feeling good.
- Stay socially active and connected with friends and family. In person, not online.
Have you experienced a midlife crisis of your own or one of your partner's?
Image via jasonaskey/Flickr