When a middle-aged man dumps his wife for a lover young enough to be his daughter (or granddaughter), it’s shrugged off as an expected part of a certain age. But what happens when a woman suddenly chucks it all in search of answers to “is this all there is?”

Menopause has long been accepted as the reason that loving wives suddenly turn into screaming, demanding, crying shrews. Hot flashes and hormonal changes impact different women different ways. The passage through menopause provides a reason to a husband for his wife’s erratic behavior.

But menopause isn’t always the cause of a woman’s dissatisfaction with her current life. Just as some middle-aged men look in the mirror, see grey hair for the first time, and run to test their virility on the first nubile female, women have their trigger points.

Some of those triggers have to do with their changing appearance. Some have to do with gaining the experience to understand that they don’t have to accept a life on someone else’s terms if it is not fulfilling their emotional needs.

It can be trigggered by the “empty nest” as children grow up and leave home. Women who have based their entire personal value on motherhood may plunge headlong into midlife crisis.

Women used to be dependent on their husbands for support. While times may not have changed in some countries, in the United States, women can set their sights as high as men and strive to achieve whatever they want from life. This knowledge comes to many women in midlife. It is an awakening.

The passage through midlife is not easy. Some women aren’t even sure if what they’re experiencing has a name. For others, the passage is aimless and without direction. Regardless of the path they follow, the journey will be rocky not just for them but for those who love them.

© Pat Gaudette. All rights reserved.