In midlife, men tend to change partners as women do fashion


Almost everyone feels disoriented around mid-life to some extent, as we start to feel our age

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

Is your spouse of many years behaving oddly? Bewildering changes of behaviour? Living a wild life? Doing her hair like when she was a teenager? Buying seamed stockings and stilettos?

Stuff like these tend to happen between the late 30s and early 50s for both men and women. It usually starts around the time you start measuring your life in terms of ‘years left’ instead of ‘years so far,’ and is also often triggered by a loss, such as the death of a parent, redundancy or divorce.

Over and above all these, middle age is a time of physical changes and new obligations. Caring for grandchildren and ageing parents. Maybe changes at work, worries about retirement, your health, your marriage, or your job. There may be physical symptoms: irritability, loss of sex drive, fatigue, feelings of sadness, lethargy or depression. Men especially feel driven by a sense of urgency, and can be more active than when they were young.

Almost everyone feels disoriented around mid-life to some extent, as we start to feel our age. Particularly men whose work’s always been their source of personal identity, and who’ve given little thought to retirement. Men also feel a loss of masculinity and worry about their future role, especially if their sex life has declined.

It can be very uncomfortable, making you discontented with a life that’s provided happiness for many years. Wanting to do something completely different. Questioning the meaning of life. Wondering about decisions you made years before. Confused about who you are and where your life’s going.

All the confusion and disorientation is driven by a feeling of sudden clarity: time’s running out, and life isn’t what you expected.

And for sure, the prospect of middle age can seem frightening. But it can also be an opportunity to review your life and change direction. Try to think about what you’d like to start rather than believing that ageing is about having to give things up. Your sex life may be changing, but don't fight it. Go for quality rather than quantity, and explore the possibilities of real intimacy. Eat well. Keep fit. Get enough sleep. Should you see a doctor? Maybe, because some of the symptoms of a mid-life crisis can have physical causes.

Men often abandon an unsatisfactory relationship at this time. Many women also feel the need to grab a second chance, but that’s easier said than done. How do you fit young children into second chances? Most women stick to a new hairstyle and sexy stockings.

But talking things over with your partner is what helps most. Improving your work-life balance. Keeping your hours under control, and spending more time with your friends and family.

Change is necessary, and good for you. But, take care. Don’t throw out the best of your old life as you search for the new! A new partner may seem attractive, but will they still be there when you’re 64?