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March 2, 2018

Mid-life Crisis - Tackle it effectively

Life is a cycle of seasons and mid-life sets in somewhere between the end of the summer and the beginning of the autumn in one’s life. It is a period of transition between the late 30s and the early 40s, quite distinct from the pre-menopausal years that come later.

There are many transition periods in life, both in men and women, which pass quite unnoticed. There may be minor disruptions in lifestyle which are soon to be resolved. But when the disruptions fail to resolve, a crisis begins.

Mid-life has been recognized as a potentially likely period when a crisis can occur. Almost 90% of women, single, married or widowed, irrespective of their socio-economic status, go though it in varying degrees.

Mid-life crisis has been recognized as a malady of recent times.  A hundred years ago, the woman’s role was well-defined and limited to home and family. Whether wife, mother or domestic drudge, she was content in her roles and voiced no protest or question.

But the latter half of the 20th century as well as the 21st centuries has brought revolutionary changes in every aspect of life. Education, employment outside the home , collapse of the joint-family system, migration to the impersonal atmosphere of cities, changing sex-roles, women’s liberation movements, advances in science and technology – all have created a kin do insecurity in the mind of the traditional woman. As she tries to keep pace with the changing times, she is assaulted by stress from all sides.

We should develop self-worth, our own special identity, if we are to deal with this disquieting period of our life successfully. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
It is against this background that the mid-life crisis assumes significance. A career-oriented spinster, high-up in the managerial hierarchy, suddenly decides that she cannot live alone anymore. She conjures up pictures of herself shelved in some home for the age, and the prospect alarms her. So, she frantically advertises in various newspapers for a suitable spouse. Many undesirable present themselves and are rejected.

Another sober middle-aged widow decides to give herself a new image. She goes to the beautician to have her hair cut in latest style. She begins to wear heavy makeup and dress like a teenager. (Do read:  Don't wear age-inappropriate clothes.) She even acts coy with all the eligible young men she meets, even with her son’s classmates!

People notice, gossip and snigger. But the woman throws all the propriety to the winds and is quite brazen about her attachment to the young boy until his parents end him out of town.

A nurse just turned 40, sinks onto deep depression because she has never had a boyfriend in her life, and life is swiftly passing by. She sees no hope of the fulfillment of her maternal desires.

While in this state of depression, a friend introduces her to a small group of people called ‘Emotions Anonymous’. Its members are people who are people who are going through or have already experienced some crisis in their lives. They feel free to speak about their problems and help each other mutually. Being with such people helps the nurse to understand her problem and re-define her values. She now becomes a confident and happy woman, always read to help others.

Having good friends, who will be supportive and help us develop a positive image, is a necessity of middle life.


Irresponsible Behaviour

Though some psychologists say that the mid-life crisis is just a convenient excuse for irresponsible behaviour, it can be argued on the other hand that one need not wait for that particular time in life to indulge one’s self.  It is common knowledge that the hormone levels in the body begin to take a dip at this time.

A few strands of grey hair, sagging breasts, hair sprouting below the chin and excess of weight add to a woman’s increasing panic that age is fast catching up with her. This fear of losing her sex appeal, youth and beauty can be shattering, especially to the one who has been proud of her good looks.
If single, one begins to feel that the possibility of marriage has vanished forever.  She may make one last ditch effort to rectify the situation by marrying the first man who proposes to her!

If married, there is the possibility that her husband who may be passing through his own mid-life crisis, is having an affair with a most unlikely person, or is making plans to sue her for divorce.
Or she may be trapped in a marriage which has become boring to both of them. When she turns to her husband for comfort and understanding, she finds him disinterested and unable to respond to her needs.

If she is suddenly widowed, it may be the last straw to break the camel’s back.

For a woman who has spent the best part of her life being  an exemplary mother and in finding her identity and fulfillment in her children, the realization that they do not need her anymore and a wide generation gap is developing between them, makes her feel marginalized and useless.

Mid-life crisis is also a time when one becomes vulnerable health wise. Diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and the need for diet restriction, medication and exercise, make her brood over the impermanence of life.

Dwindling money resources and stringency brought by retirement, also pose a threat to her mental well-being. All these stress factors can have a snowballing effect which can undermine a woman’s confidence and bring about altered behavior patterns like depression, irritability, irrational behavior, assertiveness or high sexual interest – in fact, it is almost like passing through a second emotional adolescence.




How does one overcome the mid-life crisis? As the saying goes “to be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Have your own identity

One must realize that life has many seasons, and we need to look at our values from different season of our life. Whether mother or wife, we need to have our own identity, without becoming a “rubber stamp” of our spouse or a doormat for our children.

We can have loving relations with our family without letting them exploit us. Whenever possible, we should take time to be our own selves.

Hobbies will stand us in good stead. (Read Hobbies add spice to life & Spice up your boring life.) Having 1 or 2 good friends, who will be supportive and help us develop a positive self-image, is a necessity. They will give us the inner confidence that womanhood is unique.

If we are aware that there is such a thing called the mid-life crisis, it may be possible to recognize the symptoms when it happens. It will also help us analyze the causes and tackle them one by one. Adequate rest, music or reading, may help us unwind.

Artificial props like drugs and alcohol are not the answer. Neither is an extra-marital affair the solution.  In fact, it may lead to guilt feelings that will be hard to shake off.

It would be a good idea to verbalize one’s needs and fears to the husband or grown-up children. They should be made to realize that their supportive love is needed in times of crisis.



Mid-life, as said earlier, is the pre-autumn season of one’s life. Autumn is sure to follow, and it will light up one’s personality with the golden hues of maturity and peace. Our values will be sorted out and realigned, and life will begin again with a new vision for what’s left of the future.

(Contributed by E.S)


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