After analysing my MLC to death (It’s my nature and my job to analyze and trouble shoot things) I have a few observations.

First, for background, at 48 (in a couple weeks) I probably started early onset at 40 and full blown MLC at 42. I think I am, in most respects, technically post MLC (well, most of the time), though still struggling with my marriage and whether I should remain in it.

I think I’ve dealt with the lifesyle changes I needed to make and lots of “me work” and past most chemical imbalance, though probably still some lingering situational depression. Thankfully, the greiving for the “life that might have been” seems to have finally run it’s course, so I can concentrate on what makes sense for the rest of my life.

Here’s my premise. Knowing what I know now, and looking back at the stresses and triggers that led up to my MLC, I do believe it could have been avoided, or at least greatly attenuated. I do not think it was absolutely inevetiable that I should suffer this, had I made some different choices, and gotten more cooperation in my marriage.

Maybe some unavoidable circumstances, combined with my personality would still have made for a rough ride, but I suspect it could have at least been much less severe than it was. Looking in hindsight at the choices I made, the combination of pressures and the dynamics of my marriage, it could easily have been predicted that I would fall into depression and regret.

The surprising and dissapointing aspect is, the lack of information and guidance that was available leading up to this. For something that is so prevalent, there is an amazing lack of understanding and help that could prevent it for many people.

I was teaching Adult Sunday School classes for married couples for over two decades before my MLC. Many of the books we studied were about marriage and relationships. I am amazed in hind site that the subject of MLC was never even touched on (that I recall) in any of them. Much of the time the class I taught was specifically aimed at middle aged couples, yet none of the materials promoted in the church ever addressed this subject.

The only time MLC ever came up was the stupid jokes and cliches’ about MLC males that just make it harder for someone to deal with it seriosly. I remember one elderly Pastor pointing out the vulnerable age of 40 to 60 that many fall away from their faith and the church (as I did), but he didn’t make any practical connection at all to MLC, let alone address how one might try to avoid falling into it.

Many of the books we studied and advice were given just added to the pressure and burn out that helped trigger my melt down. The advice was often to be more devout and self sacrificing & less “worldly”. Everything was to be church and family while giving in to my material hobbies which might have helped a lot in reducing stress was discouraged as a worldy waste of my time and resources.

Although we studied a few useful books like “The Five Love Languages” I failed to ever manage to get my wife to grasp how important a passionate sex life was to me, although that was our own problem I guess. I will say that our church probably helped my wife to discount my desire for more or better sex as something that was “unspiritual” and not entirely good or healthy.

In the secular world there’s not much help either. I have a slightly younger male friend who is a devoted family man. He gives lots of time to Christian school boards etc. He works hard and is extremely responsible in every way. He doesn’t have much in the way of personal outlets. I worry about him and another younger friend becoming vulnerable to MLC.

Since he’d admired my renewed sports car and racing hobby I encouraged him to get a sports car (a fun yet practical and affordable one for his daily commute to work). Sure enough as soon as the poor guy drives to work in a convertible, the barbs started to fly about “MLC”. It’s all a big joke.

No one thought it was funny when worked his butt off to buy his wife a showplace house she wanted or equip his daughters with all the best that popularity demanded, but when he gets to enjoy his drive to work with the top down he’s a subject for ridicule, nice.

Anyway, why don’t we get any meaningful warnings or discussion of such a prevelant problem? The stupid jokes aren’t funny and they don’t help.

firehorse said:

Mid-life as a transition point is a crisis without support and understanding from those closest to you. It is a crisis because of our society’s culture: stigma of the aging process.

Issues we confront as teens/young adults are reworked at mid-life. Those issues we had not resolved return with increased energy, with greater potential for disruption. Jung mentioned that a man at mid-life attempting to deal with issues at mid-life with emotional tools of a young man is due for great suffering.

I recently met a couple who just started a new business. He is 73, she is 63. He spoke at length about how, in order to truly learn a life lesson, you need to observe how others you admire older than youself live their life, and “shadow” them as if you were an apprentice, not interrupting, judging, and giving opinions.

One lesson I took away for processing from my meeting with the couple (out of many), is the revised idea of beauty – the capacity for caring, the willingness to care for another person and look after them.

Midlife is but one of the spiritual transitions we will face, and no doubt there will be at least one or two more as we grow older.

An interesting point the Elder made is that he had a lot of information he wished to pass on, but fewer and fewer of the young wish to listen. He related stories other Elders told him from generations ago. He mentioned many of his experiences and stories passed on to him in trust will pass with him.

It made me consider: what do I want to pass on?

Posted on the Midlife Club Forum in 2008 by forum member Curt. All rights reserved.