“In our late thirties or early forties we meet the results of our actions in the first half of life. Up until now we have in some ways still been children, but at this stage we become fully responsible for what we do. The spiritual world has completed its formative influence and withdraws. The “I”, our unique individuality, has thoroughly penetrated our soul life, and we stand solidly on the earth. We may feel the pull of gravity, experience a certain heaviness. We may feel moments of intense inner loneliness, even that we are “dying” inwardly. We cannot approach life the way we previously have. It just doesn’t work any more.”
-From Tapestries by Betty Staley, page 149.
- What she is writing about is the notion during this phase that no one can reassure us, solve our problems, shield us. We fully experience the consequences of our own decisions.
- These are the years we are most cut off from inspiration, from ideals, from the things we believed in during our twenties. How we deal with this stage of life will influence how we move through our forties, fifties, sixties and beyond.
- We are looking for meaning in what we have done. We are asking ourselves if we should change, if we are satisfied, what do we really want to do with the time we have on the earth.
- This period can be a time of physical change and loss of youth. “It’s an odd feeling when we look in the mirror and begin to see a resemblance to one of our parents, “ the author writes on page 151.
- But more than physical changes, there are psychological changes. We feel more mature, like we understand more in life, but also more uncertain.
- “This period can be a time of loss, doubt, loneliness and self-examination: a time, above all for questioning everything.”
Special to Women:
- Inner doubt can be a hallmark of this phase. “Where she felt confidence before, she lacks it now. Where did it go? If she is out in the working world, esteemed by colleagues and excited about her work, it may be different. Especially if she waited to start her career until after she had children, or her studies went on for a long time, or she lived with her parents and only began her career in her thirties, the crisis may not occur until her mid forties.”
- For mothers that have been stay-at-home mothers, a woman may feel her life is dull and that she isn’t sure if she likes her kids or her spouse.
Special to Men:
- “Some men get into their stride during this time, while others begin to feel less and less sure. Much depends how they evaluate their work-situation.”
- Betty Staley writes about how marriages often go through chaos when men are in this phase of life. Daniel Levinson calls this period for men the “pivotal decade” which he coincides roughly age forty to fifty or forty-five to fifty-five. Some men panic during this time period and this panic can manifest itself in impulsive decisions.
- Betty Staley writes on page 156, “When a man begins to feel middle-age creeping up on him, his strongest urge is to “escape” it, for he has an unconscious sense that facing it will require inner change. This is even more intense in him than the woman. “
- She writes about the challenges that men face here, sometimes leading to “the twenty year fracture” – the point where marriages that had seemed solid suddenly collapse. “Since many marriages today are taking place in the couple’s thirties, the “twenty-years fracture” may occur in their fifties.” She also adds that a couple is “in for serious trouble when either separately or together they cannot find new spiritual content in their lives. If they can experience new purpose in their relationship and become conscious of their struggle they may work their way through to new aims.”
(This really struck me personally; nurturing your marriage is so very important. There have been some blog posts on this if you search the tag box under “challenges in marriage” and I will definitely write some more about this important subject. If your marriage and family collapses, you cannot focus on homeschooling. Your marriage is vitally important, do not make the mistake of making your children your marriage. Your partner is who you are married to , not your children. Sometimes I see pictures of a family, and it is only the mother and child with the husband not pictured (and there is a husband in the family) or I see a picture of the family and all the kids are crowded around the mom and the dad is sitting of to the side in the family portrait. It always gives me a funny feeling inside. Ladies, do not shut dads out in the younger years of parenting and then expect things to be different later on (and yes, I am aware some dads are just not involved no matter how much the mother tries to help dad be involved). However, if you set the tone in your home think about how you nurture the relationship between your children and their father, and your relationship with More on this in a later post).
- Another odd characteristic of this phase is possibly recurring dreams of your partner dying.
- On page 155, Betty Staley writes, “One of the characteristics of this period is dealing with our negative view of others. In the previous soul period we were beginning to see the faults of our partner, but the experience now intensifies.” She talks about how we see our partner’s negative traits far better than our own. (Carrie’s note here: Ouch).
- “The moment we start to face the negative aspects of ourselves is a turning point both in our own individual development and as a couple……Instead of blaming the other, we can see how our own actions triggered the other person’s reaction. Admitting our responsibility for causing pain to the other person can release amazing capacities of trust and caring.”
- “There are so many positive experiences that emerge from this difficult period. Perhaps the most important is clarity and honesty. We begin to see the difference between imposing our wishes on a person, a situation, forcing something to come out the way we want it and learning to listen to what is really wanted. Life is no longer a struggle for power. Egoism begins to give way to understanding. Instead of putting ourselves in the center of our experiences we will be able to perceive others and their needs.”
Next post: The three essential things you MUST do during this period to move to the next phase with a sense of renewal.
Lots of food for thought in this wonderful chapter,