Midlife Crisis

Midlife Crisis


A “midlife crisis” is often the subject of jokes or used as an excuse for eyebrow-raising behavior; however, the reality is that a midlife crises is all too real and can have some devastating consequences. These consequences not only affect the individual going through a midlife crisis, but can also affect family, friends, job status and even financial security. The bright spot is that a midlife crisis can be beneficial and helpful if managed correctly!

A midlife crisis is basically a time in a person’s life when it really hits home that life is short and there are only a certain number of years left to achieve your goals. You look at what you’ve accomplished in comparison with where you thought you would be at midlife. Reality sets in that you will never be the rock star with the million dollar mansion. You will never be president of the United States and you do not have a hot model girlfriend. In addition, you take emotional stock of how happy you are and how satisfied you are with the choices you’ve made so far. This process can really help someone redefine their goals so they can experience their true passions through the remainder of their lives, but going through this emotional growth process can also be very tricky.

Challenges Faced by a Midlife Crisis

The biggest challenge to a midlife crisis is to manage it effectively so that you can benefit from taking stock of your life and putting changes into place. Sometimes people make drastic changes in order to recapture a lost youth. Others can become depressed and still others may see the need for changes, but feel they aren’t able to make any changes. This can cause resentment and anger.

One of the biggest midlife crises jokes usually involves a middle aged man who divorces his wife, buys a red hot sports car, finds a girlfriend usually just a year or two older than his children and tries to relive those exciting teenage years. Although the concept of taking stock of one’s life is sound, the changes made can have long-lasting negative consequences if not made correctly. These can include financial instability, the loss of family and abandoning good friends for those based upon superficial criteria.

Others may face a midlife crisis but do not understand how to determine what changes they may need. They may become depressed over their “lot in life” and can start to feel inadequate at not having accomplished their lifelong goals and furthermore –not having confidence they can make good decisions or positive changes.

Some midlife crises are precipitated by children leaving the nest. Parents start to see their children grow older and move away, leaving the parents feeling lonely without anyone needing them. It may also create some stress in a marriage where the parents have to start rebuilding a new type of relationship without the children constantly present.

At other times, a person faces the midlife crises and embraces the need for change. But from a practical perspective, putting that change into practice is often very difficult. Maybe you decide it’s the time to go back to school and become the pediatrician you’ve always wanted to be. But you’ve got a mortgage, you’ve got kids in school and you’ve got bills and just don’t see a way to meet your goal. Not being able to move forward with your dreams can make you angry and resentful of your responsibilities. That anger and resentment can eventually turn into bitterness at a “wasted” life.

How a Midlife Crisis Affects the Family

Although the process of a midlife crisis can be helpful to the person going through it, the family of someone going through a midlife crisis is often damaged in the process. Children need a sense of stability and watching a parent go through radical change is scary. Spouses deserve honest and truthful dialog about where the relationship is heading and can often get angry back if they feel their own needs are not being met. In many case, the person going through the crisis doesn’t take the time to honestly dig into his emotions and desires and share with his family where he is and where he wants to go.

How Therapy can Help

Change can be so good! And even the angst of facing that a life could be half over can be a cathartic experience. But for many people, going through that process alone is just too much. A professional counselor or psychologist can make all the difference. Counselors can help you understand just what is causing the emotional upheaval in your life and help you take steps to a more fulfilling life that doesn’t do damage to your support system of friends and family. Therapy can also help your friends and family understand the issues you are facing, which will then empower them to understand and help you achieve your goals. With therapeutic help, the whole family unit can start to make progress together and learn how to become happier with their everyday lives. Working through that process of understanding that life is short can help us to make the best of every day, count every blessing and make every minute count.

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