During the dating years, couples have high energy and low responsibility. They don’t realize at the time, but over the next ten to twenty years, their stress level is going to rise sharply, with a vast increase in responsibilities.
When the young couple is first married, a lot of emotional energy is spent on adjusting to each other and trying to create a "we" out of the two "I’s". When a child comes along, they may find themselves overwhelmed with continued marriage adjustments, pressure to succeed in their careers, and the twenty-four-hours-a-day care for this infant.
Before the child is two years old, the wife may be pregnant again, and all of the unresolved adjustments are carried into the new nine months of pregnancy. The second child is born, and the couple who originally had two interpersonal relationships--that is, his relationship to her and hers to him--now find that their family has twelve interpersonal relationships to keep running smoothly.
Now add to the mix the possibility of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). For some women, their hormonal level dips some days before their monthly period. This may cause a woman to have more physical fatigue and a lower stress capacity. In addition, some women wrestle with a chronic physical problem such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that causes fatigue and a lowered ability to cope with life.
If she tries to be a superwoman--to carry a full career, full mothering responsibilities, and full community and church involvement, and a full-time lover--she may find herself stressed beyond the breaking point. Tragically, she may start lashing out and become nasty, nasty, nasty.
The husband has a choice in all of these events. He can either share the loads in order to reduce the pressures or blame his wife and become nasty too. The result could be a home out of control and with a free flow of negative remarks so that either mate may say, "I want out." They may begin to rationalize, "It’s bad for the children to hear us fighting all the time. We are destroying each other."
We are looking at what is, not what should be. What should be is that the husband and wife will face the growing stress and see that the nasty, and perhaps violent environment, is not because the wife is inherently bad--she is just overstressed. The pressures have outstripped her capacity to cope with life. Life pressures need to be adjusted within their marriage, so that each of them can survive. If a husband doesn’t see that, he may run from the marriage simply to escape the hostile environment.
Generally, a midlife crisis takes three to five years. During the first year or so, tension and anxiety will gradually increase, as well as some lifestyle changes. The middle phase can be quite traumatic, including depression, running away, or a drastic job change.
Conway / Farrel Articles ~ Reprint by permission only, ©2011
Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com
The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.
Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.