13 August 2003

Emotional development - the 50s

The fifties are wonderful years for some men and quite traumatic ones for others.


The fifties can be very different for different people. The men who don't go through a midlife crisis, tend to enjoy the fruits of their labour, experience much emotional growth and take joy in their relationships during this time. These years can be calm, pleasant and rewarding for some, but also a time of upheaval and confusion for others.

Most men who haven’t had some sort of midlife crisis in their 40s will do so in their 50s. There is often a feeling of “Is this as good as it gets?", which could lead to depression and depression can make you do all sorts of uncharacteristic things. Read the article Could I be having a midlife crisis?

You may feel significant changes in sexual desire, leading you to either lose interest in matters sexual or renew a flagging interest. These changes could be hormonally driven or they could be the result of emotional changes you may be undergoing. Many men have affairs at this stage of their lives, often with someone younger, who makes them feel young and masculine.

Feelings of frustration and irrational anger can also sometimes characterise midlife crises. Frustration at lack of career success, or exhaustion related to work pressure could both lead to a sense of irrational anger with the world in general – and usually the family bears the brunt of this. But fortunately this is certainly not true for everyone. The depression resulting from this these feelings could easily result in an increase in alcohol or food consumption and often an increase in the use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

But there is a lot you can do to ensure that you get the most out of this period of your life. You need to give yourself a break and see this as a period of transition and not worth being overly critical about. Set yourself some challenging goals and get to do a couple of new things. Keep an open mind.

Use your experience to your own advantage – and that of others: You now have decades of experience in your chosen field. You might find a part-time lecturing post or some other volunteer work that can bring a deep sense of fulfillment.

If your relationship with your partner and family has become a bit stilted, work on rebuilding communication. You’ll need to switch off the TV to do so. Better still is to go on dates with them. It’s okay to treat them as individuals with their own thoughts.

Exercise to stay in shape or to get back in shape. Exercise is not only good for your body, but also for your mind, as it heightens your serotonin levels. Serotonin is the so-called feel-good neurotransmitter.



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