Today’s blog is part three in a series on men and the midlife crisis. You can read Part I here, and Part II here. In today’s blog, I present my theory on the cause and cure for the male midlife crisis, which ironically, is the same cause and cure as solving the female midlife crisis. 🙂
The cause of the male midlife crisis is ONE THING – the silenced voice of truth trying to be made known. Ironically, this is the same cause for the female midlife crisis, but today, we’re giving men the stage. It is also important to point out that the extent to which the midlife transition is painful, is the extent to which you have suppressed, ignored, repressed or silenced your truth.
The reason the male truth has been silenced is two-fold:
1) Family Conditioning: If you grew up in an environment where truth was not modeled or where your truth was silenced, ignored, criticized, condemned, or simply not allowed, then you develop coping mechanisms which continue to silence your truth. You learned that truth was either a lie or unsafe, and you learned to ignore or suppress it.
2) The Patriarchical/hierarchical culture: While this cultural paradigm can benefit men this provides a double-edged sword. There are certain expectations of men that arise out of this cultural paradigm (see PART II of this series for more on this) which disallow the wider expression of truth available to men. Certain truths are either not allowed or are at the very least held as suspect within the patriarchal paradigm. Additionally, the very roles that are held up as “male” within this paradigm disallow certain truths from even being acknowledged, let alone lived. Most commonly, this arises in relation to work and relationship.
a) work: The work challenge usually goes like this. The man feels trapped in a job that he doesn’t love, possibly never really liked, but this is the job that provides for the needs of his family. The cultural paradigm tells him, “It is your job to provide for your family….and it doesn’t matter if you like it.” As a result, he feels trapped, imprisoned and probably secretly resentful (because remember, in a patriarchal culture, men are told not to feel).
b) relationship: The relationship piece looks like this. While women have their common complaints against their male partners, men have their own list of complaints:
- She doesn’t appreciate me
- She doesn’t need me
- She never wants to have sex
- She’s always trying to control me
- She’s always telling me what to do
- She is always telling me how to do what I already know how to do
- I work all day and then she wants me to help with the housework, kids, homework, etc. there is never time for me.
- I hate my job but I can’t tell her this because we need the money
- I feel stuck, trapped, stifled
- I never get to do what I want to do
- I feel like I have to beg to spend time with my friends, and then I feel punished when I do
- She’s never satisfied, she’s always wanting more from me
- When I get home from work, I just want to chill, and she always wants to talk, then she gets mad when I just want to be quiet
Sound familiar? Now, before everyone gets their undies in a bundle, I will remind readers of this one VERY IMPORTANT TRUTH:
The extent to which another is unable to hear, understand, be present, open up to, spend time, be compassionate to YOU, is the extent to which they are unable to do these things for themselves.
And this goes both ways! If you are having trouble in your relationship – BOTH parties are to blame. Both parties are responsible for disharmony, lack of communication, needs not being acknowledged and met, intimacy issues, inequitable distribution of labor, etc. etc. etc. And both parties are responsible for unhappiness and dissatisfaction in your relationship. If you want this to change, BOTH parties need to do something about it!
The cure for the male (and female) midlife crisis is ONE THING – to be open to hearing the voice of your truth and doing something about it. This is easier said than done, and sometimes dangerous. Hearing the voice of your truth means first, that you have to take time (and the risk) to listen. Secondly, it means that you need to have the courage to face what your truth has to say. Before you can get to the truth of our SOUL – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives, you have to move through a whole lot of painful truths:
Unhealed wounds, including past traumas which may include sexual abuse (1 in 6 men have reported being sexually abused before the age of 18…this does not account for the abuse that has gone unreported!)
Ungrieved disappointments and losses
You also have to take responsibility for all the situations in your life where you have intentionally or unintentionally harmed another human being. In addition, in order to get at your truth, you have to silence the voice of judgment ( including the voice that is attacking you for the physical changes that accompany midlife), condemnation, criticism, blame, as well as the voice of societal “shoulds.” In a nutshell, in order to not only survive but thrive in the midlife crisis, you have to learn how to be vulnerable.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog in which you will have an opportunity to learn some tools to assist you through the midlife transition – specifically, the tools which will help you move through fears which might prevent you from listening to and heeding the voice of your truth.
Lauri Lumby mentors men and women in their movement through the midlife transition. To set up a face-to-face, Skype or phone session, call (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.