6 Stages of Mid Life Crisis

This is an explaination of what MLC otherwise Mid Life Crisis looks like in it’s stages so that those who are unaware of what it is that I’ve been talking about & why after this long I’m still around rather than just rushing to do what God hates & divorcing byron during this crazy time in our lives


I’ve copied this from the divorcebusting board & if you’d like to read all of the posts & questions about this you can find the rest at this link



Now remember, each MLC is different and won’t be navigated in the SAME way as others-the time-frames, stages gone through/not gone through everything could be a totally DIFFERENT story.

Some will come through faster than others, some will be slower-some might exhibit one stage at a time, some might exhibit MORE than one.

This gives you an IDEA of what to expect, but don’t take it as whole truth-each person is DIFFERENT, and the differences WILL show up.

By popular demand, here are the six stages once again, written by HB-drawn from personal experience, as well as the experiences of others:

1st Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


The word Denial should speak for itself, as the person in this stages denies their feelings pretty strongly. In a Mid Life Crisis, however there are several things that are denied; one is the fact he/she is getting older, and their bodies either don’t work as well as they used to or don’t look as good as it used to, and they feel "used up", but are even trying to fight that feeling. They don’t want to face the fact they are "wearing out" and they can’t do the things they used to do anymore. They had always, up to this point, felt they were still in their prime or youthful, and was ignoring the aging that was sneaking upon them.

When it finally hits home, they panic and some consider using plastic surgery to enhance the illusion-or going on a buying spree for new clothes that don’t exactly fit someone their age-and usually end up spending a great deal of money on other things. All in a effort to "buy-off" the aging process-it only leads to the next stage-Anger.

They look at their children, and in their mind’s eye, they are STILL small, never mind they are now teen-agers that are on the verge of growing into adulthood, and so therefore they attempt to treat the young man or young woman as they did when they were three or four years old–only the teen is probably about 13-18, and starts to rebel against being treated like a small child, which increases the confusion of the Mid Lifer-they go on to try and make up for lost time, only to find rejection at the hands of their teen-agers, and though they are hurt, they react in the only way they know how-Anger

Then there’s the spouse of the Mid Lifer-he/she doesn’t look the same as she did-as the Mid Lifer ages, so does the spouse, and we cannot help what heredity does to our looks; but their spouses are also a REFLECTION of them, how they have treated them, what they have given or with-held, and they begin to deny what they are seeing, thinking if they had it to go all over again they might have married someone else and been happier than they are now-never mind it’s not true- and that leads to the next stage–Anger

This stage is mostly quiet storming inside their heads, no one knows what they are thinking, only that they have become withdrawn somewhat because of their minds being so active, and they are not talking, so no one has any clue what’s happening until the Anger stage begins. If asked, they will tell you they are fine, and if you listen closely, their answers are a little short-tempered; because they just want to be left alone to think it all out.

It could be as short as a month or as long as six months to play out this stage.

I have not included being unhappy within their jobs in the stage of Denial, because I don’t think dissatisfaction with the job begins until the Anger stage-To be totally honest, I didn’t see my husband’s dissatisfaction really come to the surface until the tail-end of Replay, although it showed while he was IN Replay-in small spurts

2nd Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


While the Mid Lifer is in the stage of Denial, it is actually preparing him/her for this next stage, it seems be a "set up" or the seeds of Anger are actually planted by being in that first stage.
Regardless, the anger begins to set in, reality hits somewhat and the Mid Lifer begins to be really angry at the "lot" he/she has been cast in this life. And they have a tendency to forget that others have the same problems-they begin to be selfish, lashing out at others, not caring how much they hurt the people that are closest to them, even lashing out at their bosses, not caring if they are fired or not-it does NOT matter to them, and they really don’t even know WHY they are angry. The irritability alone wears on them and they react with MORE anger-not really understanding it, but just going on with it, thinking they are saying what they really feel for the first time in their lives; walking all over anyone who stands in their way.

They begin to think "run-away" thoughts, angry at their perception that they are "stuck" in the same dead-end job, year after year, after year; angry their children have grown up without them, angry their spouses aren’t what they think they ought to be, angry that life has dealt them such a cruel blow, angry because they feel "stuck" and "trapped" in the life THEY chose in their youth. Angry because it dawns on them, that they ARE growing older, and there’s not stopping the aging process.

They begin to think if they could just CHANGE their life, they would be happy, but even the thought of change, makes them angrier. They look for outside sources to blame for this unhappiness they feel inside, and guess who gets the "brunt" of that anger-their husband/wife-the one who has seen them through many things during the marriage.

Their anger takes the form of small criticisms to begin with and gradually gets bigger and bigger, and the fights escalate into possibly throwing things against the walls, making impossible demands-their spouse begins to walk on "eggshells"–the withdrawal gets worse, they can barely speak to one another without a fight breaking out from the "sane" spouse saying or doing the wrong thing.
It begins to feed their justification and reasoning, and most will find a "friend" and develop that friendship, never dreaming it will escalate into something out of control-the Replay affair. Others will begin to take drugs, drink, continue with their quest for youth, and search of self….etc.

So the next stage-Replay and the Anger Stage OVERLAPS, just as Denial and Anger did-each one has the seeds of the next and the one before.

And all of the angry outbursts gradually sets things up for the next stage—Replay

The anger stage can last from 3 to 9 months.

3rd Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


Now, Replay can take many forms, from Affairs, to a search for youth, catching up on "lost" time-although you can never "catch up" what you have lost in that time-but they don’t know that.

They are still searching for outside sources to blame for their misery, and Replay is a perfect time for a totally stable man to go crazy and start an affair-although the SEEDS for this affair were probably planted while in the Anger stage. They will still try to reconnect with children, or if they were close to their children, distance from them-it is also during this time they become the total "opposite" of what they were, before they entered the tunnel, back in Denial. They undergo a gradual change in the first two stages, going from what they were to the direct opposite during this time. They will do things their husbands/wives never thought they would do.

Besides the affair, they will feel "entitled" to what they take, regardless of who they hurt, or how much of a financial bind they put their families in. Their reasoning becomes "Well, I have taken care of people my whole life, now it’s time for ME to have fun."

The emotions, during this time, are in play, in a way they never have been, and they don’t understand what’s going on, and so they panic and "run"; but the running they do will rock the very foundation of a marriage.

They may drink, take drugs, curse God for what He "has done" to them-have multiple affairs, failing to see what they are doing that’s so wrong-still with the attitude of it being "my" time now.

The "bomb" can and will be dropped during this time, shocking the sane spouse who probably has NO idea that anything was wrong, and the problems begin to escalate, as "crying and begging" ensues, and the Mid Lifer turns away, secure in his "reasoning" for his behavior and /or the affair/drinking/drugs/money spent.

Their behavior can disrupt the most settled of families, most especially the affair-the Mid Lifer’s reasoning is that he/she thinks they have "missed out" when really, they haven’t, and the OW/OM, they can/will get involved with will NOT be what they wanted all along, but they won’t see that until they experience an "awakening" that gives them a direction, and starts them along the path to facing their issues; opening the door for the stage of Depression.

As long as the Mid Lifer continues "replay" behaviors they are nowhere near to being ready to start their way out of the tunnel; the "awakening" they have IF they come to it, is a "turning point" to beginning their journey out of the tunnel.

When the "awakening" occurs, they begin to suffer the next stage-Depression, and it is a low point of the Mid Lifer’s journey.

The Replay stage is the LONGEST of the stages, and can last up to two years or even longer, depending upon the "replay" behaviors used during this time.

4th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


Now, we have traveled through the first three stages, and during those stages, the issues that are inside the Mid Lifer have STILL not been looked at.

This is the stage where the Mid Lifer is faced with the issues he/she are beginning to face, and quite frankly, they feel like failures.

Nothing has helped the first three stages-everything they have tried has NOT turned to gold, on the contrary everything has turned to stone, for lack of a better word to describe their running-and now comes the time to begin to face their damage, and this is done inside-because that is what Depression is-anger turned inward.

Their hormones are out of whack, due to physical changes, and that makes them feel worse. Their self-esteem is shot all to pieces, and they feel like failures. They wonder if they will ever be worth anything to anyone. Some are in so much pain, they commit suicide, some get smart and get anti-depressants to help them begin to clear their thinking processes, some suffer in silence, thinking nobody understands them or will understand what they are going through-and so it goes on.

They will be on the verge of tears, most of the time, pacing the floor, losing sleep, afraid of the dark-or maybe what’s in it; unable to escape negative thoughts, cutting themselves down in word and action. Extreme guilt may compound this stage, and there is so much pressure, they become forgetful, irritable, want to be left alone, somewhat argumentative, sometimes unresponsive-want to take long drives, sit looking out the window-their silences are long and painful, as they don’t want to talk about it preferring instead to think and brood.

You must understand they will come through this or they won’t-no one can "make" them come out until they are ready-pestering them only makes them draw inside further, and they need the space to work within themselves, trying to understand some of what has happened; the parts they can face, anyway, besides resolving issues that are inside them, from childhood and/or otherwise. Understand, also, this journey must continue to made alone, no one can "fix" it or "do it for them."

Pieces of the next stage are contained within, and Withdrawal begins to come to the fore as each individual issue is faced-it is a gradual slide from Depression to Withdrawal or both stages can occur together.

The Depression stage can last from around two and a half months to possibly six months, depending upon the severity of the depression they are suffering.

5th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


Now, the Mid Lifer has been beginning to face his/her issues while in Depression, and what they’ve seen has NOT been pretty. They’ve done so MUCH damage, and don’t really know how to "fix" it, and that has made them even MORE depressed.

So, for a time, they conclude that life is not worth much, and so they "drop out" of life or WITHDRAW, hence the stage of Withdrawal.

It is also during this time, they will navigate obstacles and question themselves, somewhat, working their way toward what is called the "final fears" Not much is known about what the final fears contain-I think it is beginning to accept the death of everything they have ever known, including the death of their "old" lives; AND beginning to accept their own mortality without being afraid of it-Depression sets them up for this journey across an open field toward an archway to face these fears. During this time, they will NOT communicate with ANYONE, not even their spouse, as they are drawn so far within, no one can reach them. They MUST be allowed to continue, with NO interruptions, just like before-they will NOT come out until they are READY to come out.

Just like in Depression, they want to left alone, still processing their issues and the damage they have done to their spouse and their lives, and they make several decisions during this time concerning their lives, job, and marriage. But those WON’T be known UNTIL they break Withdrawal and talk to their spouse the first time

They are still secretive, somewhat asserting their privacy, much like a teen-ager, but during this time, they must be gently but firmly led along, and only when the time is right-a wrong word at the wrong time will cause them to "stick" within the tunnel.

You will see some Depression and Anger within them, they are mostly angry at themselves, but will take it out on you, and there are times you will have to be quiet and just leave them alone; letting them work things out, and they usually will, as the answers, such as they are STILL come from within them, not outside sources.

As they begin to come forward, they will begin the journey out of the tunnel-entering the first stage of Acceptance.

Withdrawal can last from three months to one year.

6th Stage of a Mid Life Crisis


The Mid Lifer has navigated through five stages of his/her Mid Life crisis by now, and begins into the final stage–Acceptance.

Now, Acceptance is entered in "Stages" Three, to be exact.

Stage ONE involves the disintegration of his/her personality, the "veil" is lifted showing the Mid Lifer EVERYTHING, no holds barred, and he/she realizes for the first time just how much damage has been done to their marriage, lives and spouse. The spouse will be surprised to see "children" surface, as well as "flashes" of the "old" personality, "new" personality, good AND bad personalities. I have described it as similar to schizophrenia, Three faces of Eve, etc.

But, I promise they are NOT crazy, this is what is MEANT to happen, for the Mid Life Crisis extracts a CHANGE, and the disintegration is a part of it, as they are FORCED to look at every facet of their personalities and make some permanent changes. The key to helping them through is to ACCEPT what you see as it comes forth, and don’t ridicule or shame them-you will see little kids picking their nose for example–I saw this happen. They will apologize for everything under the sun, and try really hard to make up for the damage; for a little while.

Now during stage TWO of Acceptance, will come the temptations to want to go back to what they came out of. The silence of the spouse is most important during this time-all you can do is be understanding and patient with them as this MUST happen and they MUST come through alone.
They will SEEM to be going backward, but aren’t, this is necessary for them to move forward.
It is during this time they will "revisit" ALL stages of the Mid Life Crisis except Denial and shuts the "doors" to each stage PERMANENTLY one by one, never to return.
If they give in to temptation OR get spooked by their final fears, they WILL run BACK into the tunnel a little ways. But they can only run back as far as the doors have NOT been closed permanently; most of the time they just run back as far as WITHDRAWAL, but will continue the process to come out once they feel "safe" to continue. So, they must be allowed to come through WITHOUT interruption, no matter what happens.

Stage THREE involves the "archway" I spoke of in the Stage of Withdrawal-all this time the Mid Lifer has been coming across this open field toward this Archway, where his "final fears" are located and he finally begins to face these fears in full-he may come out of the tunnel and face them BEFORE he/she shuts the door to Depression/Withdrawal or afterwards. But he will have to face them, nevertheless, before he exits to begin his complete healing process.

It takes awhile for the Mid Lifer to get settled down, even after he/she comes out of stage three of the Acceptance stage-they will experience a final "rebelling" before they settle down for good.

It is much like a teen-ager who has passed into manhood/womanhood-there are still final changes that must be made, especially for the one who has done so much damage during the crisis itself.

But if he/she can settle everything within themselves, their lives should be marked with a sense of peace, instead of the anguish they have known for as long as they were within the crisis. And they will have learned many things concerning life, and will be changed permanently as they will NEVER be the same, ever again.

Edited by Hearts Blessing (01/23/03 05:05 PM)

This entry was posted in Marriage Help & MLC Explainations. Bookmark the permalink.

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