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Midlife crisis has mistakenly been used to encompass everything from character flaws to psychological afflictions to social dilemmas.
Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle. Heard that joke? Funny, until you look down and can’t see your toes!
Of all the decades in one’s life, the forties probably provides the most fodder for comedians; this decade is associated with men having affairs with, and women dressing up like girls half their age. So should you just roar with laughter [is that why they call it the ‘roaring forties’?], or take this ‘passing phase’ more seriously?
Extra-marital affairs, by men as well as women, at this age are almost expected and even excused as a part of ‘midlife crisis’. However, unlike Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, the story does not end with you winning an Oscar for your performance.
Responsibilities and routine can lead relations into a rut. Rakesh never had a great marriage to begin with, but his ambitious nature took the focus off his personal life and onto his career. By the time he was 46, he had reached his professional peak. From where he stood, he could see how easy it was to play the ‘field’. And so began an affair with a colleague. When the flames of passion died out, his guilt led him to confess all to his wife. His justification? Yes, midlife crisis.
Pallavi Ullal, a psychologist and counsellor, says, “This kind of behaviour stems from a character flaw — of taking the easy way out by giving up on your long-term relationship instead of giving it a shot of rejuvenation after so many years of togetherness. It is not just a symptom of this supposed age-related condition, but of deep-seated emotional malfunctioning.”
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