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Tips for Men Facing Midlife Crisis

As a poet, therapist, and observer of human behavior, Janis has a keen awareness of what makes people tick and behave the way they do.

Facing the Crossroads of Midlife

A man looks pensively as he ponders the current state of his life and direction of his future.

A man looks pensively as he ponders the current state of his life and direction of his future.

Looking for Answers

When a man asks himself these types of questions, as he approaches the age of 40, and continues to struggle with the answers throughout his forties, he is said to be experiencing a midlife crisis.

This phase of deep introspection and contemplation often follows a man well into his fifties and sixties. It is a very individual experience, striking at varying periods in a man's life, depending on his issues, lifestyle, achieved milestones and goals, and support system.

Questions and Conflicts Men Face

It is not uncommon for a man to reach a certain point in his life where he begins to ask himself these questions:

  • Have I been successful in my career?
  • Have I reached my full potential?
  • Am I satisfied in my marriage?
  • Have I provided all that I can for my family?
  • Have I been the best father to my children?
  • Have I attained and lived out my dreams?
  • Have I really made a difference in the world?
  • Am I truly happy?

Midlife Crisis and Introspection

A man looks inward as he searches for purpose and meaning.

A man looks inward as he searches for purpose and meaning.

For Men Only: Assessing Your Midlife Achievements

Midlife Crisis Involves Decision-Making

A man struggles with making a decision that not only will impact his life but the lives of those closest to him.

A man struggles with making a decision that not only will impact his life but the lives of those closest to him.

The Psychology Behind the Struggle

Midlife crisis is a term that has been around for more than three decades. It refers to a phase of life, occurring at middle age, wherein men and women begin to look at the state of their lives through eyes of discernment.

The predominant trigger is the realization of one's mortality as the end of life approaches, prompting questions about productivity and fulfilled purpose.

Erik Erikson, the pre-eminent theorist in human development, addressed this stage of life in his well documented Eight Stages of Psycho-social Development.

In Stage Seven, Generativity versus Stagnation, Erikson states that during middle adulthood, between the ages of forty and sixty years of age, the individual approaches certain developmental challenges, ending in either successful or unsuccessful resolution.

Challenges are met successfully through one's career achievements, the raising of children, or participation in social/volunteer service activities. Unsuccessful resolution of this stage may include:

  • a mired search for self
  • incomplete pursuits
  • feelings of boredom and resignation
  • inability to extend beyond self and give to others
  • overindulgence
  • or the "empty nest syndrome"

Self-Exploration Often Involves Guilt and Obligation

 A man won't outwardly admit feelings of guilt and resentment. It will more than likely be acted out in his behavior.

A man won't outwardly admit feelings of guilt and resentment. It will more than likely be acted out in his behavior.

Men Grapple With Dilemmas

In my experience as a therapist who has counseled many men over the last two decades, I can attest to the fact that men do enter into and struggle with midlife crisis. Whether it is triggered by a career change, an upcoming retirement, an unhappy marriage, or a budding affair, it definitely happens to the best of men every day.

The poem featured in this article was inspired by my work with such men who are in crisis because of their integrity and moral character. There would be no struggle if these men weren't operating from a desire to maintain their good characters by listening to their consciences and adhering to their values. These struggles lead to indecisiveness about the following dilemmas:

  • Leaving a stale marriage/considering separation or divorce
  • Having an affair/reconnecting with a long lost love
  • Quitting a job and starting a business
  • Investing time and money into a beloved hobby or project
  • Exploring a curiosity to pursue the adventures of living a single lifestyle
  • For single or never married men, entertaining the desire to have children

Living Up to Societal Expectations

Because men are raised to be providers and protectors of the family, midlife crisis in men takes on an added level of guilt as they struggle with decisions to benefit themselves versus the family. Societal expectations condition men to work hard, make sacrifices, and ensure that all provisions for the wife and children are met.

In families where the traditional male and female role expectations define the relationship, built up resentments may also form and later lead to the midlife crisis dilemma where the man begins to ask himself silently, "What about me?" The cry for liberation ignited by the women's movement has for decades given women permission to asked these types of questions aloud.

A Poem for Men in Midlife Crisis


"Mid-life Split" (JLE 2007)


Caught between the pull of two

Both worlds encompass me

I straddle inside back and forth

To see who I should be


Commitments versus passion's call

To which do I adhere?

At the crossroads of my life

Confronted by my fears


Choices are in front of me

Which door do I pursue?

While obligations call me home

My heart has not a clue


Half my life has come and gone

With more still to be done

Time cannot be wasted when

Tomorrow may not come


I long for peace and happiness

Attained by very few

Pursuing passions placed on hold

To mine own heart be true


Answers do elude me now

As I wait patiently

Consumed by indecisiveness

On love and loyalty


My common senses speak to me

They say, "You know what's right,

You have responsibilities,

WAKE UP and see the light!"


Realities are very clear

I know what I must do

Embrace the challenge of my life

Find balance in the two


Live each day as if it were

My last on God's green Earth

Accepting every blessing for

It's value and it's worth


My choices come with drawbacks filled

They have their good points, too

I focus on my need for both

And change my point of view


I let go of conflicting thoughts

Releasing all control

My strength lies in a fresh approach

As new peace calms my soul


Each lesson will bring clarity

One crisis at a time

In the end wisdom transcends

As I pass through my prime

Men Can Live Happily at Midlife

A man's midlife can be happy when conflicts are successfully addressed.

A man's midlife can be happy when conflicts are successfully addressed.

Help for Men Facing Challenges: Setting Goals

Although the poem offers a spiritual way for men to deal with resolving the internal struggle of midlife crisis, there are other alternatives for men to consider. In his popular book, "Men in Midlife Crisis," author Jim Conway takes a unique look at the stages men go through in midlife, similar to women's menopause.

The video below gives comprehensive steps for men to take to decrease or prevent the consequences of midlife crisis.

The best alternatives always involve taking preventative measures and/or being proactive about addressing one's overall mental and physical health. Some practical measures include:

  • Setting goals and planning ahead for middle age
  • Having good recreational and stress outlets
  • Monitoring any tendencies toward impulsive behavior and poor judgment
  • Maintaining connections in relationships with family and friends
  • Exploring the meaning of spirituality in one's life
  • Engaging in regular exercise and good nutrition
  • Getting a physical exam to assess for any hormonal changes that could be affecting mood and libido
  • Monitoring symptoms of depression or anxiety and getting treatment
  • Seeing a therapist for counseling if necessary

Remember, midlife is an unavoidable stage of human development. All of us have to confront it if we are lucky enough to make it there. We cannot know which challenges or tests in life will come our way, causing us to contemplate and discern how to make the best decisions for ourselves and others.

What we do know is that these challenges seem to heighten during midlife, at an intensity that is higher for men than it is for women. For this reason, it is imperative that men's awareness of and education about the midlife crisis phenomenon be increased and the issue addressed sooner than later.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Janis Leslie Evans

Comments

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 05, 2015:

Beautifully expressed philosophic point of view, ross. I wish I had the answer for you. I believe the truth leans more in the direction of attaining personal happiness and spiritual fulfillment. Thank you kindly for your visit and comment. I wish you peace.

ross on August 05, 2015:

very interesting and empathetic viewpoint. I was both disappointed and relieved to learn this is normal, and commonplace. the burning question though is whether fighting these desires to run to the hills makes for a happier later life, or whether following the urges for a new, different and reinvented solo you does actually lead to personal happiness and spiritual fulfillment . ultimately that is what we want... to enjoy our remaining time on planet earth and not waste our one and only life. as someone on the brink of this life decision I sure could use a crystal ball right about now.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on December 02, 2013:

I appreciate those comments very much, Gail. Thank you for reading, voting, and especially, sharing.

Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on December 02, 2013:

This is an excellent article written on a sensitive subject. People seem to shy away from this topic, so I think it is great to get accurate information out there. You are in an excellent position to do that based on your experience. Voted up, useful and sharing.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on September 04, 2013:

LOL, lol, you are so silly. I was just thinking I hadn't seen you lately. Thanks for stopping by.

Julian Magdaleno from Queens, New York City on September 04, 2013:

The man in the top picture looks like a llama. Just sayin.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on September 04, 2013:

Oh no, sorry I missed out on them. But what you've submitted here is very special. I really appreciate your sharing how you feel about this piece. I'm touched by how it is making an impact with several others as well. Thank you so much for your visit and comments, Billie.

Billie Kelpin from Newport Beach on September 04, 2013:

Jan, I commented on this truly important piece in length, but my comments disappeared when I submitted it. Actually, as you may remember from some of my other posts, this is all too close to my heart, so perhaps it's best that my own story is not told yet again. Your work and the hubs you write are meaningful and impacting!

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on September 02, 2013:

Thank you, I appreciate your visit and comment.

Michelle Orelup from Las Vegas, NV on September 02, 2013:

It is interesting that the questions a man asks himself are all about 'I'. It sounds like they are looking for a reason to do something out of character. Great insight.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on September 01, 2013:

Oh my, thelyricwriter, I'm stunned by this very generous critique. I'm pleased that it resonated with you. I really appreciate these comments and your visit. Thank you so much for the votes and for sharing this hub. My hope is that it helps many more men.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on September 01, 2013:

Jan, powerful article. First, voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared on FB. If your a man, you should read this article through. I'm experiencing similar events. I want my business to be successful and its only a few months old, but hasn't took off like I thought it would. It's very easy to get down and lose focus. Great information Jan, a class "A" hub.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 31, 2013:

Thanks, Frank. I appreciate that. Thank you for reading it.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on August 30, 2013:

for of all clever and well thought out hub.. yeah a must read for all men

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 30, 2013:

I really appreciate those comments, tillsontitan. I'm glad you liked it, grateful for the votes and the share.

Mary Craig from New York on August 30, 2013:

I think men are more likely to ignore, or should I say try to ignore, that they may be having a problem dealing with their lives. Everything you've said is so true as they reach that time in their life where they take their lives more seriously.

This is a great hub (loved the poem), filled with useful information. I hope by sharing it more people will read and share it too.

Voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 28, 2013:

You are so welcome, NateB11. Your comments make my feel like this hub can actually help and make a difference. I appreciate your comments and visit. I wish you peace on your journey.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 28, 2013:

Hello HappyMikeWriter. Sounds like my article touched you deeply. I'm glad to hear you related to it. Maybe now you will look at some of your dissatisfaction and start to address it now so you can look forward to the future. Thank you very much for stopping by and reading this hub.

HappyMikeWritter on August 28, 2013:

Thank you for this informative article. I am 33 years old and sometimes /very often/ I feel that all things above you named reflects on me. I am just totally not satisfied with anything. More I think it holds me down so i do not really want to hit my middle age crisis anytime soon.

I keep this article around me as it has a lot great ideas. Thank you soo much for sharing :-)

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on August 27, 2013:

I'm glad I found this piece. Just so happens I hit my mid-life crisis a few years ago and it's going full swing. Most of the issues you talk about here, I'm having. Very difficult time, no doubt about it. I had that feeling of relief while reading this like, "I'm not alone". Thanks much, Jan, good work.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 27, 2013:

They say make it original so I'm trying my best. :-) Thanks, Faith Reaper, for those awesome comments. Hugs to you for sharing!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 27, 2013:

Hi Jan,

Very interesting and insightful information contained here! I love that poem too. You have presented this in a different light and that is what makes it so very interesting. Good job!

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 27, 2013:

Hi Carol. Thanks for those comments. I tried to give it a spin that is rarely talked about instead of the cliché stuff. Thanks for noticing. I appreciate your visit. I'm glad you remained true to yourself. :-)

carol stanley from Arizona on August 27, 2013:

Great job about this sometime touchy subject. My past husband took up flying and then we divorced..both remarried..I think I had some mid life crisis issues ...but nothing that changed who I was or what I genuinely felt. Great job in covering all the points.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 27, 2013:

You're very welcome, Bill. Thanks for taking the time to read and relate to it.

Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on August 27, 2013:

Thanks, DDE, certainly a significant time for all of us, particularly for men. Thanks for reading.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 27, 2013:

It is an interesting time indeed and one that few people talk about. It hit me when I was forty....about midlife according to averages....and it is not a fun time...plus, one really doesn't know they are going through a crisis of that nature...so there is just confusion.

Thanks for discussing this all-too common malady.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 27, 2013:

Very interesting aspect of a man's life, on Dealing with Midlife Crisis Dilemmas for men. A time for all of us to figure out what we have to or have done gets me thinking always.