Middle adulthood begins at the age of 40 – 60. This is a time when you can”t believe where the time went. It seems like just yesterday you were graduating from college, got married, and had children. Your children are now approaching young adulthood, pushing you into the next stage of life, middle adulthood. You look in the mirror and all the signs of middle age are starting to set in. You notice wrinkles, gray hair, flabby skin and you”re having trouble reading the menu. You begin to reassess you life. Are you happy with what you have accomplished in life so far? Do you have good family relationships?
Is your career on track? Are you happy with yourself? There are many conflicts with both men and women during this period of life. One conflict very important to both men and women is the bodily issue. Our body weight starts to change. Fat seems to be redistributed to the hips, stomach and trunk; our complexions become drier and wrinkles start to appear. Our skin doesn”t seem to be as resilient as it was in our 20″s and 30″s. In women there is a drop in bone mass, due to the slow depletion of estrogen. Menopause is fast approaching, followed up with all the negative health complications that follow this phase.
This is the beginning of a slowness of our psychomotor performance. Our reaction time to specific situations is not as quick, and our physical stamina is not as strong as it used to be. All these developments affect how men and women feel about themselves. Particularly women, begin to interpret these changes in a negative way. Some view themselves as sexually unattractive. Men, on the other hand, don”t seem to be as concerned about their physical appearance, since society has placed much of the physical importance on the women. This is a time where we need to accept these failings and move towards more important issues.
This is also a time when men and women become more health conscious. We all know of the major diseases that cause premature deaths during middle adulthood, such as cancer and heart disease. When you”re a young adult, you don”t think about these health issues as you would during middle adulthood. There is more of a concern to take better care of our health, such as heathy diets, cardiovascular activity, resistance training, and not smoking. We might be better prepared for later adulthood, if we lead a healthy lifestyle. We start to realize our mortality.
As most people live to be about 85, we realize that at 40, we”re almost half-way there. During this time, there may be turmoil in the family, marital distress, and general dissatisfaction with our lives. Many people during this time go through what we call the “mid-life crisis”. A mid-life crisis may be caused by many different issues. During the early 30″s, the woman”s primary duty is child rearing and may also be pursuing a career. Most men focus on their job careers. Sometimes these two people are heading in the same direction, but may be on two different parallel roads.
Men may realize their mortality and may express their turmoil and self doubts by reverting to adolescent type behavior. Some men may accept new relations with younger women as a way of dealing with their conflicts. Some women may also suffer from self doubt and their inevitable mortality during their 40″s, but various studies have indicated that women can manifest a mid-life crisis during their early 30″s, 40″s and 60″s. This is also a time when men and women assess their careers by questioning whether or not they still enjoy their career choices and their achievement in the chosen field.
If not, maybe it”s time to make improvements, such as furthering your education, improving intellectually, which will make an individual more marketable. When women go through a mid-life crisis, their crisis evolves around interpersonal relationships in the family rather than aging. Men seem to be more involved with the aging factor. Women may go through the ’empty nest” syndrome. Their children are becoming young adults and leaving the ‘nest”. For some women, that have devoted most of their time to child rearing with a small amount devoted to career, this may be a very difficult time. This leaves just you and your husband.
A time for reacquaintance and renewal of your relationship. As we progress into the 40″s. we also see an emergence of more feminine/masculine aspects of self. Women start to take on a more masculine qualities, such as assertiveness and independence; while men tend to move towards a more calm, intimate status. I have touched upon some of the major conflicts of middle adulthood. For most people this can be a smooth transition and for others there may be difficulties. I believe that the 40″s – 60″s is a time to reassess your life, to check and balance, and to go forward to one”s later adulthood.