What’s Wrong with Men These Days?

By John Teng

Middle aged men are out of control … and they are paying the price. You see it everywhere you look: your neighborhood; workplace; even in the church. Men are having affairs; going into debt; and basically running their lives into the ground. What is driving these men to speed toward the cliff -- and over it?

Midlife is a time of change; the kind of change many men can’t handle. As men reach this stage in their lives they have more freedom. Their careers are on a solid track and their positions often allow them more ability to come and go as they please… their kids are older giving them more time to spend doing the things they love … they have more money to spend … and their wives feel secure enough in their relationship to not ask many questions. This leaves the middle age man able to pretty much do as he pleases. This should be the time of his life. Unfortunately, I have watched as too many men use this power to destroy it all – their marriages … their families … and even their careers.

Middle age men are restless. They look back and see all of the things left undone; and when they look forward they fail to see the possibilities of renewal. Instead all they see is a life filled with drudgery and boredom. The man who has accomplished his dreams feels as if the excitement of the hunt is gone; while the man who has failed to live up to his so-called potential feels as if life has passed him by. This leaves guys looking for more. The problem is they look in all the wrong places.

At no other time in his life does a man have more money, influence, power, responsibility, stress, and yes, temptation. Add to this the physical and emotional changes he is going through and the result can be disastrous.

Men are doers. They believe in going out and conquering the world. Give them too much or too little to accomplish at this stage of life and they are bound to fight back. The overwhelmed middle ager fights for his freedom; while the accomplished middle ager fights to keep his standing in his world.

Everyone knows a middle age man who seems to have lost his mind. He begins to act like a teenager again. Everyone sees it (and many snicker behind his back). Yet, few actually try to stop him from destroying what he has built. Maybe it is because it is too much fun to watch him implode. Or maybe it is simply because he won’t listen even if you try.

Middle age men are in the fight of their lives. They are restless and unbalanced and they are careening down the hillside out of control. There is too much chaos in their heads –and their lives – and in an attempt to fix it all they usually only make things worse. This makes them angry and frustrated, which only adds to their problems.

Ask a middle age man in crisis about his life and he will spew out all sorts of negatives; his job stinks; his wife is boring; his house is falling apart. In most cases none of this is true. His perceptions have been altered by boredom; disillusionment; and yes, even his hormones. Feeling as if time is running out, the middle aged man tries to grab at the last remnants of his youth in order to feel whole. A better approach might be to enjoy this unique phase of life. Middle age really isn’t bad – for most it can be a time of freedom, enjoyment and pleasure. The key to surviving the transition from youth to maturity is to accept this time of life for what it is and relish the benefits it offers.

By this stage of your career your job is set and people come to you for guidance. Maybe you aren’t in the trenches day in and day out, feeling the exhilaration of the chase as you did earlier in your career, but instead of wallowing in what has been lost, enjoy the freedom that comes with this richer position. Many men find their 40’s and 50’s to be a time of stagnation in their careers as they reach the level they will stay at for awhile. This isn’t all bad. It means you can relax. You’ve reached the top, now enjoy it!

Men married 20 or 30 years often become disgruntled with their wives. The excitement is gone. Things have become mundane both in their day to day dealings with their spouse and in the bedroom. Having known each other for so long, everything becomes comfortable. Suddenly, the middle age man is on the prowl for more excitement; which often involves an affair with a younger woman. The problem is that men at this age also need a deeper relationship. The sex is great, but the affair usually peters out when he can’t connect on any other level. Instead of looking for excitement elsewhere, wouldn’t a better strategy be to create more excitement in the relationship you already have?

The middle age man is looking for something that he can’t quite explain. Too often he throws away what he has in search of what he wants, only to realize too late that with a few changes he had the exact life he was after.

What’s wrong with middle age men? They are in transition and that transition is hard. They feel lost and they don’t know how to find their way. So what is the answer? I believe it is important for the middle age man (and those approaching this danger zone) to recognize the changes they are experiencing –and the way these changes are making them feel – and work hard to avoid the pitfalls that lay ahead.

Surviving middle age does not have to mean giving up your dreams or settling for an unfulfilling life. It does require taking a good hard look at yourself and deciding what you want out of life and making a realistic plan to spend the next phase of your life going after those dreams.

Entering middle age shouldn’t throw you into a frenzy of panic. You have plenty of time to get what you want out of life. The key to getting it is to acknowledge the stage of life you are in, and embrace it for all it has to offer. Quitting your job; getting a new partner; and becoming a whole new entity is not the answer. Finding ways to incorporate new experiences and new dreams into the life you already have is.

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