to spot signs of and manage midlife crisis?
your marriage and life could be in jeopardy......By Dr. Andrew D. Atwood
When we are wrapped up in a 'mid-life crisis' it is very difficult to think clearly, to feel consistently, or to act predictably. Those of us who have lived fairly
adult lives full of adult commitments, hit some point in time when we wonder if there is something more to life than being the good person that we have been. We begin to wonder about what life would have been like if we had done this or that instead of what we have done. Choices are reconsidered, values re-examined, commitments questioned. Obviously, it can be a season of chaos for everyone close to the mid-lifer.
Here are actions you can take to make sure you grow through mid-life into a higher level of maturity and wisdom.
I. Keep giving yourself a lot of
self-talk. "This is a critical time in my life and I need to navigate it well. I need to re-evaluate who I am so that I can grow-up and move ahead. Now is the time. Maybe I didn’t invite this confusion into my life, but it is here, and I am going to take advantage of it to become a stronger and more well centered person. No backing down."
II. With or without the help of Stephen Covey’s
Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, figure out what principles you will organize your life around, and then begin to manage your life by those principles. If you do this, you will grow through this mid-life crisis. If not, you will have missed the incredible opportunity this is.
III. Commit to living
truthfully. Be truthful with yourself, with a therapist, with a friend, with a
Leader, and with your spouse. The truth will set you free, because
grown-up people face the truth and live truthfully with others. If you are not telling the truth, what fear is driving you? Examine it. You are probably trying to
manage your anxiety, or someone else's.
Engage your lover in the process of self-examination by asking your lover to articulate their principles as well. Ask your friends and family to do the same. I‘ve seen this work powerfully in extended families. Instead of fragmenting and falling apart, everyone gets centered, strong and healthy.
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V. Reflect on the wisdom of Rumi, the Sufi mystic, who wrote, "Straying marks the path." During the mid-life crisis one deals with the shadow side of one’s persona. 'Dealing' with oneself at this level is a
heroic adventure. Do it. Be your own hero. Wrestle with the
demons and awaken to the truth.
VI. Do not, absolutely do not, be harsh with your loved ones. They are not the cause of your problems. You are outgrowing your own skin. Focus on your own growth and be gracious to those who live close to you.
Again I say: This is a powerful time of growth that is the gateway into a more integrated, whole, and mature life. Be patient with yourself, and encourage your loved ones to be patient with you as well.
Remember, the greatest gift you can give your marriage is your attention.
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