Yes, we are going to finish going through the seven-year life cycles as they apply to adults ages 21 and older as seen through the eyes of Betty Staley in her wonderful book “Tapestries”. If you missed the older posts on this and would like to read them, please do hit “seven year cycles” in the tags box and catch up! There is also a post based on the cycles that occur in marriage and you can find that by hitting “Challenges in Marriage” in the tags box.
We are up to ages 49-56, a time Betty Staley labels as “Reassessing Our Priorities”. She notes the following things about this stage:
- We draw closer to our childhood experiences in this age and have a renewed interest in our roots and our family. We question things such as “Why was I born into this particular family? This particular culture? This country?”
- Through an understanding of our relationships, accomplishments, and struggles, we are able to bring wisdom to these experiences and also gratitude.
- She remarks that, “By the time we enter this phase, middle-age is a fact of life. Many of the strong emotions of earlier stages seem far away and even a bit silly. In fact, it’s hard to remember some of the reasons for our disagreements with friends or partners. We find ourselves forgiving those who caused us great pain.”
- The strong urge to compete has diminished. With it comes freedom to reform our own lives, ourselves, to live according to our own values.
- “Unwillingness to look at ourselves objectively and accept criticism will only block our further growth. “ We have to take responsibility for our behavior, and often flexibility decreased during this period of life. “The big question during this period is whether we will have enough flexibility to learn from the past, or become too rigid and replay past errors.”
- Career change is common at this point of life.
- Often men go through this stage and career change dramatically. In the past, he may have been the provider and now savings may get used for daily living while he re-tools for a different career. “It is a strong wife who can keep her family together at this time….”
- If a woman has been mainly at home and now feels the need to make a career change while a child is still at home, her decision affects the entire family. All the family is more on their own, and “the feeling of being nurtured is weakened.”
- If the woman has been mainly at home, a change will come when her children leave home. Some women feel abandoned as their children leave the nest one by one, some cannot wait to have time for themselves again.
- Children leaving home can also be a challenge to a couple’s relationship. “It can be a delightful experience to get to know each other again, to have time for each other; or it can spell the ruin of the marriage if a couple discovers that their relationship has deteriorated and was only held together by routine and concern for the children.”
- Betty Staley talks about how childhood trauma can cause problems during this period, that early traumatic experiences are woven into the body itself. Fear of death can be intense during this time period.
- Men who come through what is called “the pivotal years” (40-50) are often in three groups – those who had unhappy childhoods and know how bad things can get and who are not frightened by much; those who have a strong sense of responsibility to other people; and then the third group composed of men who never had much ambition, optimism or confidence – since they didn’t set very high goals for themselves, not reaching these goals doesn’t seem so disappointing. The men in the first two groups seem to come through this seven year phase much better than men in the third group.
- This seven year cycle is really about the balance between flexibility and rigidity, the balance of the soul with the art of living, the use of rhythm, the balance between stability and newness.