What is it that causes so many women in their forties to re-evaluate their lives and enter a mid-life crisis?
For some, their children are grown or nearly so, and they can finally take time to decide what’s important to them. For others, it could be the death or infidelity of a spouse, job loss, or a journey of spiritual growth that leads them to this place. Regardless of the impetus, a process of self-reflection and re-prioritizing occurs for many women in their forties and fifties.
Typically, a woman in this phase of life will decide that nothing fits anymore: not her job, her relationship or her beliefs. She may join a women’s support group and take on a whole new circle of friends.
What’s really happening is that she is finally getting to know herself. Most women spend the first forty or so years of their lives trying to please everyone around them. Most women thrive on nurturing others; unfortunately it happens at the expense of their own needs. That’s unsustainable behavior and eventually her well runs dry. Her inner reserves depleted, she must turn inward to figure out what’s wrong and fix it.
This process is completely mysterious to the men in her life. Men don’t have the problem of feeling like they have to take care of everyone else before themselves. They understand that, like the airline attendants say, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help anyone else.
Not all women enter this phase of life, but for those who do the effects can be devastating, and then utterly liberating. It’s possible to come out the other side with your relationship intact, but it doesn’t happen often. When it does, it’s because both partners commit to their own growth.
When a woman does leave her relationship, she’d do herself and her potential partners a world of good to take some time for herself before jumping into the next relationship. It’s not fair to try to find yourself through the eyes of another, no matter how scary it might be to be on your own. Being afraid to be on your own is called emotional fusion, and it afflicts most people, men and women alike.
For a man fortunate enough to date a woman who’s been through this process, count your lucky stars and do what you can to be man enough for her. It won’t necessarily be the easiest relationship, but it will be the most fulfilling. She won’t let you get away with being a jerk, and she’ll expect you to demand her very best.