We’ve all heard about the mid-life crisis. But there is also what I call THE ¾ LIFE CRISIS.
OK, so you’re 60+and starting to feel OLD. You may be thinking about professionally slowing down, even though the archaic laws of mandatory retirement at age 65 are obsolete. You look in the mirror and see wrinkles, a droopy body, thinning hair, fuddy-duddy clothes. You still feel 30 inside. You look at your spouse and see an equally aging face and body. You may be grandparents. Where has the time gone? How many more active years do you have left?
“IS THAT ALL THERE IS?”
SO, there is a longing for excitement, passion, newness. And sometimes a person’s integrity, morals, and values fly out the window. Affairs happen. WHY? There is an exhilaration in the beginning of a new relationship. It feels like a wild high school crush! It feels like a teenage rebellion! There is secrecy, excitement with not getting caught, and a double lifestyle.
A new “love” brings motivation to lose weight, go to the gym, get better clothes, buy a flashier car, change hairstyles. Become a better you. It is a feeling of being young again, like a teenager rebelling against a parent. In this case, the parent is the spouse, the one who represents boredom and sameness and aging.
In a long-term marriage, rarely is there a surprise in behavior or activity. Boredom sets in. Hmmm, someone at work, a younger attractive person, is flirting with you, telling you how wonderful you are, giving you attention you rarely get at home. You’re easy prey for an affair. OR, maybe someone has looked you up on FACEBOOK, an old friend from high school or college. Or maybe you’re the one who searched around for a reconnection. It starts off innocently enough. You tell yourself that you’re just friends, but then you find yourself thinking about this other person, texting and emailing, secretly of course. It’s exciting! And the affairs happens.
Now you are fooled into thinking “I should be with new person who understands me and makes me feel excited and young again.” NOOOOOOOO! But maybe you leave your spouse and pursue this new relationship. Maybe you get divorced. Maybe you lose the respect of your family and friends.
AND THEN YOU WAKE UP.
What have I done? The newness wears off, reality sets in, and you’ve lost it all. OR HAVE YOU?
Sometimes, if you slow things down, you will come to your senses and realize that this is a ¾ LIFE CRISIS. You tell your spouse that you are unhappy, bored, and want to make your marriage better. You can choose to enliven your lives TOGETHER. You go to counseling and realize that it’s YOU who is having the crisis, and the problem is not your spouse. You enrich your lives with new hobbies, activities, time together, and fall in love all over again. Love, acceptance of aging as a natural part of life. TOGETHER.
LIFE GOES ON©
Kathleen Cairns, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut. She works with adults, adolescents, and couples. You may call her at 860-236-5555 to make an appointment. She is the author of “The Psychotherapy Workbook.” You may email her at email@example.com and she will try to answer as many of your questions as possible.
Life goes on… and every day matters…