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Dr. Jim ConwayOn the 30th anniversary of Midlife Dimensions, Jim Conway turned the ministry over to Bill Farrel, author and speaker.

Jim started a new ministry in January 2011 called LateLife Hope.

We still have many great articles written by Jim for people to read and learn from here at Midlife.com. You can find more articles by Jim at LateLifeHope.com

Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson

Family Talk with Dr. James DobsonListen to an inspiring broadcast from the "Family In Crisis" series with Dr. James Dobson.

Part 1 with Dr. Jim Conway

Dr. Jim Conway, a man of great faith, was shaken to the core on the day his 16-year-old daughter Becki lost her leg to the ravages of cancer. We’ll peer into a father's broken heart as he asks, “Can we really believe Romans 8:28? Do 'all things work together for good’?” His answer will inspire you today.

Part 2 with Jim's daughter, Becki Conway-Walters

CANCER — the word itself can cause us to wince. In part one we heard from a father who watched his teen daughter battle with the devastation caused by this disease. Now you’ll hear from the young woman as she takes the microphone to share her own thoughts. Her perspective just might surprise you!

Holidays are tough. Suggestions from Jim to help you through this time of year.

Holidays are tough for people in unhappy marriages when everyone else seems so happy. Depression is higher during the holidays than any other time of year. It's important to make plans and be proactive.   Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed, lonely, and depressed. Doing these types of activities helps change your brain chemistry, which enables you to cope with life better.

 

Read more...

Jim - Name 1 thing that will help our children get through this.

[11/24 18: 27] "Cheyanne":   Jim, if you could name the 1 thing that will help our children through this time of separation and divorce.

[11/24 18: 36] JIM CONWAY:   "Cheyanne", teens and children need to know that your marital troubles are not their fault. They also need to know that both of you love them very much. Begin to identify several character traits about your children which you admire and then do 3 things:   1) put your hand on their shoulder or arm, 2) look them in the eye, 3) speak a verbal affirmation of encouragement to them.

Why should I change first?

6:32 "sky": Jim. he is the one going through this , but I have to change?

6:37 Dr. Jim Conway [Administrator]:   "sky": At midlife everybody is changing -- so I’m asking you to join the change process for the purpose of rescuing your marriage and producing a better "you". It never hurts to grow and change spiritually.

Check out this author! Jill Briscoe has some great books you should see.

Look for these books by Jill Briscoe, "The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes; Conversations With God on the Steps of My Soul" Also, "God's Front Door: Private Conversations". And, "Faith Dancing, Conversations in Good Company". Jan and I heard Jill Briscoe speak at a conference this last week.   She is a wonderful author and speaker.

You can find her books through our MLD Amazon store:   CLICK HERE.

FAQ - I can't stop wondering about what's going to happen.

Remember that Jesus taught us not to worry about what tomorrow might bring -- or even to worry about the past.   He told us we had enough responsibilities in today -- focus on today.   If one of your tendencies has been to try to have everything figured out way ahead of time.   Rather, imagine that you are on an adventure walking through the woods.   You can't be sure of what you will see -- beauty, new plants or trees, a busy squirrel, or you might even run into a skunk.   But treat all of it as an adventure -- and walk all of your adventure with God beside you.

-- Dr. Jim Conway

FAQ - Will my husband ever tire of the other woman?

Think of an oak tree which holds its leaves through the entire winter.   But when spring time comes, the new growth and new leaves push the old leaves off.   Keep focusing on growth and change and the other woman will be pushed off as an old leaf.

-- Dr. Jim Conway

Carrots, Eggs, & Coffee!

Carrots, Eggs, & Coffee!

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Read more...

FAQ - How do I recognize God's Will?

How do I know if what I think and feel are God's will and not my own?

That's a great question that many people wonder about. The easiest way to separate the two is to have a daily quiet time where you are reading the Bible in a quiet place with your heart open to God. John 15, Jesus used the example of a branch growing out of the side of a tree. As the branch stays connected it receives nourishment and life. When it is disconnected, then it is on it's own and it will die.   So let me suggest this:

1) Get a modern translation of the Bible (New Living Translation).

2) Sit in a quiet place without distractions.

3) Speak to God as you would a friend, "God, I am here to learn from You, I deliberately open myself up to you, I set aside distractions and I ask you to teach me now as I read the Bible"

4) If you're new at this, start reading with the Gospel of John. The purpose of reading is not to cover lots of verses or chapters - it is to let God speak to you.

5) Read very slowly phrase by phrase watching for the words or phrase to almost jump off the page into your mind - you will definitely know that these words are important words for you today.

6) Stop and ask God what these words mean for your life now and what actions you should take because God has brought these words to your attention. As you reflect on these words with God, you will find that God is leading you to perhaps, things in the past, or that you are now facing, or that may come up as you go through this day.

7) Now write down the words that jump out to you and what your discussion was with God. You will notice over a period of weeks that God will be steering your mind in the directions that He wants you to go - you will be able to objectively see on paper how God has been guiding youday by day. I know this works because I've been doing it for years.

--Dr. Jim Conway

FAQ - Is taking medications ok?

I know that many people have trouble temporarily using meds, but it is the same kind of thing that we do when we go to the dentist - we have a toothache - we go to the dentist - he injects our jaw with pain numbing chemicals - he fixes the tooth - and we go home and our jaw returns to normal. Meds can be helpful with emotional struggles, the same as with a tooth problem.

-- Dr. Jim Conway

Mother Theresa

"I am like a pencil in God's hand. God does the writing; the pencil has nothing to do with it."
--Mother Theresa

From C.S. Lewis

"I believe in God as I believe the sun has risen; not because I can see it, but because  I can see everything else."
--C. S. Lewis

Dear Dr. Jim, Thanks for "Adult Children of Legal and Emotional Divorce"

Dear Dr. Jim,

I first read your book “Adult Children of Legal and Emotional Divorce” when I was in my early twenties. And now, here I am in my late 30's re-reading it. I read your chapter on forgiveness with new-found interest. I love what you say on page 216:Adult Children of Legal or Emotional Divorce

Neither does forgiveness mean that you don't have a right to:

  • protect yourself
  • limit contact
  • refuse info
  • file legal or criminal charges

I've come to believe that many good people have misguided ideas about what forgiveness actually is. My husband and I both come from families with issues (you are right, victims tend to attract. I think that we understand each other in ways others could not). I really struggle with other family members, friends, and acquaintances who assume that we are unforgiving, and, by implication, un-Christian, because we limit contact, refuse information, etc. It rots my socks to think that these people expect us to pretend that everything is “OK” and expose our children to the very insanity that we ourselves have worked so hard to overcome. Thank you for your words of wisdom and guidance.

Sincerely,

“Lauren”

Thank you for your writings, Jim. From "Gabe"

Jim, I would like to tell a little about myself, I'm in my late 40's, the proud father of three grown men, along with two young grand children. These past 5 to 6 years have been the hardest of all, in my line of work I have been touched by the best and worst imaginable in life. I have also cared for and have had both of my parents pass away in my arms within a year. Taking care of them and their household, caring for my own family, along with a full-time career, were all something I just accepted as the things I was supposed to do. I didn't understand why, I just did it without question. My wife and I have always raised our children in the same manner. It was also during this time that I lost my way. I am now separated because of an affair. My grown children have cut all ties to me, I know this is in support of their mother, they are just doing what they were taught, "take care of your family". I have never drank or taken as many rx drug as I have in my entire life. Now I'm not able to work due to a bad back and neck. I have never felt as alone as I do now. Everything in your articles describe me to the tee. I look at your articles as the beginning to finding reasons of why I'm in the position I'm in. I take full responsibility for the choices I have made in my life, but I just don't understand why I made them. I hope God will make me understand through your writings.

Thank you. "Gabe"

Wonderfully Restored Marriage Testimony

In end of year 2004, I wrote to you telling you that my husband asked for divorce and he doesn't want to have anything to do with me anymore. That time all that I felt was like the world has ended. First I don't understand why it has to happen to me until God brought you and some other people to me. That was when I know God is speaking to me and telling me that He will restore my marriage again but I will have to follow His ways. Of course God's ways are difficult especially when the circumstances doesn't show a bit that the marriage will work out again. God continued to remind me to put my focus on Him and His promise  and NOT my circumstances.

  

Throughout the 1st year, it was very difficult, painful and full of tears, but GOD is really faithful. He is always there each time when I called out to Him and His presence is so real. Most of my time was spent reading His Word and each time I can really feel God speaking to me through His Word and teaching me what I should do in each situation. During these times, God has changed me so much.

  

Throughout the 10 months after my husband told me that he will divorce me, he didn't speak to me at all. It was really difficult but I remember God asking me to just show love to him and expect nothing in return. That was the time God showed me what's the real meaning of LOVE. During that time all that I know is I'm relying on God's strength because if I were to use my own strength I would have moved out from the house because it was just too painful.

  

In Oct 2005, my husband decided to move out from the house, but again God is so good because He prepared me for that time. God has given me the strength to the extent that I was helping my husband to pack his things and even say goodbye to him when he is leaving. I remember telling God that I've done everything that God has asked me to do and now I surrender my husband to Him.

  

In Dec 2005, my husband called me and asked me out and that was the start of our marriage restoration which I've never expected that it would happen so fast. OUR GOD IS TRULY AWESOME & A GOD OF MIRACLE if we choose to believe.

  

It has already been more than 2 years our marriage has been restored and recently my husband decided to start attending church again. PRAISE GOD!! HALLELUJAH!!

  

The above testimony has already been shortened because if I were to write about the miracles from God throughout the 1st year, it will be extremely long.

  

Here I would like to thank you for your encouragement each time when I wrote to you and I really appreciate your time taken to reply me.

  

May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry. Take care.  

Love in Christ,   “Mimi”

Thank you for the Conway books!

I am glad to report that my husband has returned. He did purchase a motor cycle, and I'm surprised how much I enjoy riding with him. You'll never know just how grateful I am to you guys and all you do. I do so  appreciate the Conway books, and even my husband feels he has been saved by this knowledge and wishes to help others to that are going through this. It was almost instant for him, once he read  some literature from your website and some info in the books, he felt so much remorse and relief at the same time. But of course he was ready for it after suffering severe lows. Sincerely "Zena"

Thank you Jim.

I am so glad I spoke to you by phone Jim. You gave me many pearls of wisdom. After our chat, I realized just how much I had needed the chat. That realization made me break down in tears because I knew God is working in my life, and that He really cares.
I am so grateful for your ministry.  
Thanks, "Brin"

Dear Jim, From "AnnieK"

Dear Jim,
  
I just wanted to write a quick thank you for all your help. I know I probably seemed crazy when I called you last year…but I felt like my world had fallen apart and my heart would never mend. Well, my world did fall apart for a while and yes my heart is still mending. However, it was with   the patient advice from you and the staff and other participants in the chat room that helped me through many of the lonely nights. I had decided not to go on the boards regularly after a while because I felt very lonely sometimes after I got off, but I have really been trying to continue the advice you gave me. All my friends and family advised me to get rid of him and divorce him. But I didn’t listen.
  
I do at times struggle with letting go of the fear of future recurrence and fear of being compared to a world that he has now had a taste of and may someday want again.   I try very hard to put the pain in the past but the little devil keeps popping up. Having my husband back in my life is the absolute biggest blessing I have ever received. I know that he struggles too and sometimes I sense I am driving him crazy and life's pressures are on his heels. I just pray a lot that he will be with me forever and that I can learn to be the wife he wants and to understand the man he is.
  
Thank you so much and you are right, loving them unconditionally is the key. When my husband first left I just went crazy. He has told me several times that had I stayed in that mode he would have never even considered coming back to us. But I didn’t. I loved him more, I tried to be kinder and sweeter than ever in our relationship. It was HARD very very HARD. Even now I sometimes slide back to the other me by mistake but I try to catch myself. He just wants to be loved and respected for who he is and who he can be without the ridicule and judgmental attitude. I do love my husband and someday, there will never be regrets.
  
After everything I have faced I feel the desire to help others who are going through the same things that we are going through.   God Bless you all and what you do. There just isn’t enough help out there for people like us.
  
Thank you,
"AnnieK" in the chat room

From "MJ2"

Wow, thank you! Your note comes at a good time when 2 minutes ago I was just thinking that a divorce would be nice just to end the pain from my husband. I’m just about to my breaking point. The harder I work the worse it gets. If it wasn’t for Jim, I would have no hope of surviving this. God works in wonderful ways. Please thank him for me. You have an awesome day and God’s Blessings on all of you.   "MJ2"

From "Lil"

Your website is totally awesome! Our culture is so youth oriented. I see very little devoted to the subject of midlife, so I find your organization refreshing. It is easy when you reach midlife to feel as if you have less value as a person in some ways. Thanks for your help! I tell my friends about you!

"Lil"

From "Suzie-Q"

Talking with you, Jim, has helped so much. I was so discouraged at that time. I just could not seem to pull myself together. I know that prayer does work. I have felt so much better these last weeks. I am praying earnestly that God will show me which direction He wants me to take. I am still praying that God will restore my marriage. My husband just seems so determined in continuing in this relationship with the other woman. But for now I am just waiting, praying, and listening for God to speak to my heart and let me know what to do. Thank you for being there. I thank God for you, Jim, and your Godly advice. Please continue to pray that I will do God's will and not my own will. God knows my heart and He knows that I want my marriage restored. May God bless you.   "Suzie-Q"

From "Jade"

My name is Jade  and I've been married for 7 years now. I just read your book, "Traits of a Lasting Marriage", at the right time as my marriage was on the rocks. This book has really helped me as a person and has encouraged me to keep on 'keeping-on' and that nothing is impossible with God. May God continue blessing you.   Jade

From "Duke"

Hi Jim and Jan,

I heard both of you speak this morning at TCBC. I'm really glad I got to hear you speak. What you had to say was really encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear. That's really amazing how God brought both of you together. Your stories are very encouraging. Thanks and have a great day.

"Duke"

From "Fmtr"

I wanted to thank you for your book, "Men in Midlife Crisis". It is truly what my husband is going through. I just hope I can be strong for both of us. Right now he's refusing to see a doctor or counselor. I've scheduled an appointment with a christian counselor and have been talking with my pastor regularly. I have also ordered you book, "Your Marriage Can Survive a Mid-life Crisis". I am looking forward to learning ways to help him. I think he toyed with the idea of an affair (phone calls) but they seem to have stopped. He doesn't admit them I've just seen them on the cell phone bill. I count on the fact that he's still home and hasn't left. I'm sure you receive lots of emails. I just wanted to thank you for your books. They are truly a help.  

Sincerely,   "Fmtr"

From "Jude"

Just a word about the web site: thank you, thank you, thank you for the unprecedented encouragement! I can't say thank you enough, you are a stream in the desert! I especially appreciate and am thankful for the success stories and the prayer requests, please, keep them coming! God bless you for all the wonderful work you do Jim, you are amazing. I only wish more people knew about this ministry, thankyou for giving us hope.   Jude

From "down2sleep"

Thanks for your articles. I Googled, Adult Children of Divorce and found your book, "Adult Children of Legal or Emotional Divorce".  My mom left my dad after forty years of marriage when I was in my late twenties. I've just gotten out of a year long affair and want to renew my marriage. Its a daily struggle, but not impossible with God's help. I also read your article, "Cures and Causes of Affairs". Continue to bless God, "down2sleep"

Seeking an Escape, Star Beacon Newspaper

Interview with Jim Conway Ph.D., by Carl E. Feather, Star Beacon Newspaper

It was the spring of the year, when the kings go off to war. But David, the king of Israel, remained behind.

He strolled on his rooftop as the sun set over Jerusalem. Now in his middle years, David was firmly enthroned in Israel, He was the victorious leader; in today's jargon, David had it all.The Tower of David

But there was a midlife restlessness in his heart and eyes that lured him to gaze in the direction of the naked, beautiful Bathsheba. The gaze turned to lust, the lust to adultery, the adultery to death in what has become a classic story of the midlife affair.

"If you look at the big guys of the Bible—David, Solomon, Samson—they were all in midlife when they fell sexually," said Bill Perkins, author of "When Good Men are Tempted." "These guys we look to as such moral heroes, the pattern of their lives was that in midlife they violated the moral values that they held to."

What is this powerful force that causes kings and Presidents, sanitation workers and scientists, pastors and farmers, to forsake the palace hearth for a little campfire along the highway of life? — Midlife Crisis.


Older men are naturally attracted to younger women because they possess the youth and sexual appeal that their wives have lost to time. As the man looks at his own aging body in the mirror, he realizes that if he's going to upgrade his spouse, he'd better do it now.

Although it is far from being a universal experience, the intangible feelings of depression, frustration and entrapment that come with midlife crisis occasionally take form as an extramarital affair. In the middle ground between myth and stereo type, midlife extramarital affairs with the younger female do occur. Virtually everyone who has made it to midlife knows of a graying ram who made the leap into forbidden pasture with a young ewe.

"If you really feel bad, you're going to look for some way to stop it," said Kent A. Young, a clinical psychologist with an office at Madison's Lake Ambulatory Care Center of Lake Hospital System. "They feel bad and they try to offset it with adding a feel good. And if they are really desperate, they look for the big buzz."

Men GamblingYoung said that the "big buzz" doesn't necessarily have to be an extramarital affair. In fact, many midlife men are so crippled by feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem that they are intimidated by the thought of approaching a younger woman. Alcohol, drugs or gambling is more likely to be their buzz of choice.

But solace also comes in 110-pound packages who smell good, listen well, have girlish mannerisms and remind the midlife man of the ecstasy he felt when he first fell in love—so many years ago.

Perkins said older men are naturally attracted to younger women because they possess the youth and sexual appeal that their wives have lost to time. As the man looks at his own aging body in the mirror, he realizes that if he's going to upgrade his spouse, he'd better do it now.

"He thinks 'If I wait another 10 years to have a relationship with a younger woman, it will be too late, I need to make a move now."’


"We've seen each other naked so many times, so how can we seem new to each other?"


The man in midlife crisis often finds little reason at home for him to honor his commitment. Those darling kids that held the marriage together in the couple's first 10 or 15 years have turned into obnoxious teenagers who demand everything and give back nothing. Jim Conway, author of numerous books on midlife issues and president of the California ministry Midlife Dimensions, said marriage satisfaction reaches a low point between the ages of 35 and 50. Relationships become stale, sex routine and appearances all too familiar

"We've seen each other naked so many times, so how can we seem new to each other?" asks Dr. Paul Book The Marriage SpiritMoschetta, a Manhattan marriage counselor and author of "The Marriage Spirit," with his wife Dr. Evelyn Moschetta.

"We see a lot of midlife couples come in," Moschetta said. "They don't identify it as a midlife crisis. They describe it as not feeling happy, disappointed in the relationship, wondering what is going to bring them a sense of fullness and completion."

Moschetta said an empty nest suddenly brings together two people who have shared their home and lives with children for more than 18 years. Each mate has evolved during that time, and the partners suddenly find themselves facing a person different from the one they married.

"It feels awkward," Moschetta said.

 

Beyond the Brink, Star Beacon Newspaper

Interview with Jim Conway Ph.D., by Carl E. Feather, Star Beacon Newspaper
Jim Conway has good news for men in midlife crisis: "I've been through it and I've worked with thousands of men who have been through it, " said the author of "Men in Midlife Crisis" and president of Midlife Dimensions. "There are very, very few men who get stuck and just sort of stay there. Most men progress on and most are better, stronger and healthier for it."

Indeed, while midlife brings the end of youth, it signals the beginning of the longest period of our lives, notes Craig Nathanson, a California Web designer who developed "Coach Nate's Corner" (craignathanson.com) for those in midlife transition.
Jim Mens Seminar
"Midlife adults can start to learn new methods not necessarily to change their life, but the way they experience their lives," he notes on his Web page. "This can lead to new choices for making midlife a process for self-empowerment and not a journey to the unknown."


"Coming out of it, you feel more in control and more focused on what you should be doing," Conway said. "You begin to have that sense of having it together again."



Conw
ay said a midlife crisis provides a man with the opportunity to reassess his journey and make changes for the home stretch.

"It's go
od to let the crisis prod you to start the process of evaluation," he said.
Book What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009
Conway recommends that men who are struggling with midlife career questions purchase a copy of "What Color is Your Parachute" by Richard Nelson Bolles. Although it takes a substantial investment of time and thought, the exercises in the book can help midlife job seekers find a new direction or affirm their present one.

"His whole thrust is understanding who you are, what your strengths are and how to go with those strengths when you go to get a
job," Conway said.

Conway said a midlife crisis can help a man focus his energies on one or two really important projects, "A 25-year-old will do everything and hope something will help," he said. "A 45-year-old knows what will help and what is a waste of time."

Nathanson recommends that the midlifer learn to go with his intuitions and invest some time defining his values.

"It is critical to look at your values and make sure that 90 percent or more of what you do each day aligns with those values," he said. Nathanson said if that's not happening, it is time to make some changes in your life and get a new focus.

Finding focus is one sign that you're emerging from the crisis and are on track for a better second half of your adult life.
Man Daydreaming of Girl Friend Car and House

"Coming out of it, you feel more in control and more focused on what you should be doing," Conway said. "You begin to have that sense of having it together again."

Optimism returns, as does the feeling that life has become more manageable, added Conway.

"Coming into the crisis, you think aging is bad," he said. "Now, you see that aging has given me powerful tools I didn't have when I was a 25-year-old."

  


"The struggle was within me, not outside," he said. "A lot of men think if they just change their car, job or wife, that will take care of it. It's not external, it's internal."



Survival stories

Zeb Bradford Long, author, pastor and executive director of Presbyterian and Reformed Renewal Ministries International, said he made it through his four-year-long midlife crisis by finding two Christian brothers and submitting to their brutal accountability. "I realized I could not do it by myself," he said.

Long said he came to the realization that although it appeared as if external factors were causing his crisis, the real problem was within himself. Ultimately, it would be up to him to fix what was wrong.

"The struggle was within me, not outside," he said. "A lot of men think if they just change their car, job or wife, that will take care of it. It's not external, it's internal."

Long said although his midlife crisis was a time of traveling through a spiritual wilderness, he did not forget God. But he said God took on a different role in his crisis.

"It was not the love of God, but the fear of God that held me," he said. Long said that fear of the consequences kept him from stepping across the line of midlife temptations.

While emerging from the crisis is a process for some men, in Long's case it was lifted as quickly as it fell.

"I woke up four years later and it was gone," he said. "I found myself wonderfully in control of my marriage, my work."

Long calls midlife crisis "a great, positive thing." "You realize you don't want to live the way you have been living the next half of your life and you make positive changes."

Couples who are facing midlife issues can find many resources from Midlife Dimensions. Book titles written by Conway and his late wife Sally include "Maximize Your Midlife," "Pure Pleasure," "Traits of a Lasting Marriage," "When a Mate Wants Out," "Men In Midlife Crisis," and "Your Husband's Midlife Crisis."

The authors of "The Dance-Away Lover" (Morrow) identify three cycles in most marriages: falling in love, falling out of love, and falling back in love. Conway said the last cycle doesn't happen as easily as falling in love the first time, but can be the most rewarding. Five things are needed to accomplish it:

1. Time. Midlifers are stressed for time and privacy. Couples have to make time for each other.
2. Commitment. Both partners must want the marriage to work.
3. Forgiveness. Conway notes that we are obligated to forgive each other.
4. Support. Marriage partners mu
st learn how to carry each other's load.
5. Love. To love someone, you must know them, Conway writes. Get to know your spouse again; put the emphasis on the relationship.

Conway said midlife men need to "hang in there and keep working. It's like the alcoholic in AA, take it one day at a time and keep working the steps. Focus on the areas that need to change: career, marriage, relationships, God. It's like the 12 steps. If you keep working the steps, you are going to get healthier."

He notes that one Jim on Catamaranof the most basic things a midlife man can do to improve his outlook and take care of that aging body is to start exercising.

"It's healthy for a guy to start working out and lose weight," he said. "It can help heal the depression."

And he shares th
is final bit of advice, the second half of which should not be read by the wife.

"Don't waste this time!" Conway added. "Do all the growing you can and learn all, you can. And make sure you get a motorcycle or a sailboat out of this."


Conway / Farrel Articles ~    Reprint by permission only,  ©2011

Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com

  

The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.

Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.

Spice Up Your Marriage, MARRIAGE magazine

by Jim and Sally Conway  ©1998
Published in MARRIAGE magazine
  
1. Leisure time is not gong to happen automatically.

No one is going to assign you leisure time or pay you to do it. The two of you need to talk about a strategy to create
the time. One of our administrative assistants, Marilyn, and her husband have learned to take leisure time. Both of these people have heavy schedules. Marilyn and Dwight have learned they can relax only if they get away from the house. So each Thursday is their day to go away together. It is an inviolable time. We know that we caCouple Bike Ridingn't ask Marilyn to come into the office for extra help that day. They have bought two collapsible five-speed bikes, and many Thursdays they load up the bikes and head for a new place to explore. Besides giving them some healthy recreation, this recommitted time to do new and stimulating things together has given an additional spark to their marriage. But they have to plan these leisure times—they don't just happen.

2. Plan mini-breaks.


I (Jim) have been working in my office all morning on this section of the book while Sally has been in her office working on other projects. I just took a little break. Sally rubbed some lotion on my shoulders that got sunburned yesterday. Wow! That felt good — her touch, the lotion and the mental and physical break. It took only a couple of minutes, but that short recess helped both of us do our work better. If you think in terms of shorter, more casual times of leisure together, you'll be more apt to actually take breaks.

3. Think of leisure as unorganized.

Try sitting on the patio in the cool evening breeze, going for a walk or bike ride, or visiting spontaneously with neighbors. Try eating your dinner outside on the picnic table, in front of the fireplace, or around the living room coffee table while you sit on the floor leaning against the couch. Spontaneous, unorganized changes of pace are keys to leisure.

4. Split some of your vacation time into small segments.

For example, take two days of your vacation and tack them onto a three-day national holiday weekend. Plan and pack ahead of time so you can leave the moment both of you are free. By the last morning, it will seem as if you've been gone a week. But you've really only used two days of your vacation time. During the worst of Jim's midlife crisis, he was experiencing heavy burnout each spring about March and could hardly make it until his summer vacation. His doctor advised him to take his vacation in small segments rather than using it all at one time and then waiting a full year for the next vacation. By breaking up the year with min-vacations, we found the spring was not marked by such heavy symptoms of stress. The problem is still basically one of choice. You must choose to spend some leisure time together.

5. Plan what to do with your time together.

Couple Sitting in Beach ChairsYou need to ask, "What is it that recharges our batteries?" Each of you should make a list of experiences, activities, places and people that give you a sense of well-being. Compare your lists and find those items that are similar. Now you're in position to decide what you're going to do.

It may be possible to use some of the activities that are dissimilar by combining them. For example, I (Jim) feel satisfied to sit in a sand chair on the beach and doze. Sally is nourished by reading. We both enjoy the ocean and walking along the beach. So we spend some time with Sally reading and me dozing and some time together, climbing on the rocks and walking along the beach. Sally doesn't force me to read, and I don't force her to doze or to climb endless miles over rocks. At the same time, we both get to experience what restores us in a setting that provides a great deal of nourishment.

6. Develop a healthy philosophy of play.

We have had the privilege of doing some snorkeling in warm waters that are swarming with tropical fish. It's unbelievable!

The creation account records that God rested on the seventh day. Was God so exhausted from work that He had to rest? No, it was a pattern set for us, saying, "It's okay to rest, to have leisure. It's okay to enjoy life." We must shake off the notion that leisure, and fun and humor are wrong. The workaholic, non-leisure person is violating the Creator's purposes.

7. Plan inexpensive leisure.


Sometimes people complain that they can't have any recreation because it costs too much. Leis
ure is first an attitude. This attitude results in actions. Attitudes are free, and many activities you can plan are also free. Saying that you can't have any fun because it costs too much money is a cop-out for being too lazy to think creatively.

Sometimes the best leisure is not organized. You don't have to be entertained. Create your own fun from s
Family on Beachimple things. The problem with TV sports is that you just watch. You aren't involved. That can also be the problem with Little League games, church picnics and luncheons, summer camps, or retreats. If everything is organized for you, you don't have to think or be creative. As a result, you get a small return on the leisure hours you spend.

When our three daughters were young teens, we took a vacation trip which graphically illustrat
es fun from free activities. On the Florida coast, one night around midnight we walked the beach with flashlights, looking for giant green turtles that were coming in to shore from the ocean to lay their eggs. It was fascinating to see these female turtles, about three feet in diameter, struggle up on the sand, turn around, and face out to sea. They each carefully scooped out a deep hole with their rear feet and then laid soft white eggs, about half the size of ping pong balls, in the hole. Momma Turtle actually seemed to be crying as she dispensed the eggs; we could see a liquid seeping from her eyes. Then she carefully covered the hole and returned to the sea. We felt we had been part of a very special secret.

We also spent many house of that vacation sunning on the beach, playing in the waves, eating fresh fruits and enjoying other delights that only visitors fresh from a Midwestern winter could fully appreciate.

8. Don't let your leis
Jim on Catamaranure become work.

We now own a sixteen-foot catamaran sailboat. Most of the time it's in our garage because we're so busy and it's
inconvenient for us to put it in the ocean, even though we now live near the California coast.

The truth is, sailing for many people is not leisure; it's a whole lot of work. Go to a marina sometime to see how many people are caulking and painting, scraping off barnacles, keeping up with the never-ending maintenance of owning a boat.

Or what about the vacation cottage? You know, the place where you spend the whole weekend repairing the pump, building a new pier, replacing a door, or cleaning squirrels out of the chimney. It sounds so glamorous, but sometimes our leisure projects become more"project" than "leisure".

9. Don't put off leisure until "someday".

Frequently the person who is uncomfortable with leisure puts it off. But the explanation is, "I'm not opposed to leisure. In fact, I really enjoy it. Boy, some of the greatest times in my life have been when we've been able to just get away, kick back, and unwind. The problem is that right now I"ve got this project I really have to get done. But after I'm finished, boy, then we're really going to take off and have a good time."

Passing Through Midlife, Family Life Today Magazine

An interview with Jim and Sally Conway with Dr. John M. Dettoni, Family Life Today Magazine

Family White Water RapidsJim Conway describes the utter desperation to which he was driven when he faced his own midlife crisis. Thanks, however, to the support of his wife, sally, and their three daughters, Jim not only charted his way successfully through those deep waters, but that difficult life passage led to a family ministry that has touched thousands of lives.

Out of their experiences Jim and Sally Conway have written books and articles on midlife, conducted seminars and conferences, and established Christian Living Resources, Inc (now Midlife Dimensions), a counseling service for those at midlife.

The Conways family's closeness--without dependence--is testimony of parents who have lovingly (not perfectly) helped their children grow from totally dependent infants to maturing adults. Interestingly, the early years of giving in-depth attention to their children continued on through the typically turbulent adolescent years and laid the groundwork for relationships with their three daughters as young adults. As Jim aptly stated, 'You can work with a lot of people, but they usually drift through your life and keep on going. They look back now and then and say It was really nice to know you. But what you really end up with is your family."


"The midlife crisis is a stormy, turbulent passage. The cause of turbulence is basically the questioning of values..."


So when, like the Grim Reaper, the mid-life crisis overtook Jim, he had the loving support and understanding of his family to sustain him. Through years of unselfish caring he had exemplified what it was to stand alongside people in need, offering the strong support that is founded in God's unconditional love, demon ­strated in Christ's death for us, and ministered by the Holy Spirit.

FLT: Do you think that all Ameri ­can males go through the mid-life crisis?

Jim: No, all people--men and women--go through a distinct transition as they move from young adulthood to mid-life. But they don't all have a crisis. Only about 60 to 80 percent of them do (counting both men and women).

FLT: How do crisis and transition differ?

Jim:
A transition is a smooth passage from one stage to another. It would be like going through an inlet from the ocean to the inland waterway when the tide is at even state--it is not being unduly pulled one way or the other. To go back and forth in a boat is no great stress. But when the tide is going in or out you have to be able to deal with the strong, unexpected currents and a good many people get in trouble. The mid-life crisis is a stormy, turbulent passage. The cause of turbulence is basically the questioning of values: Who am I? What have I spent my life doing? Why am I doing this work? How am I going to spend the rest of my life? Do I want to stay in this marriage? How do I want to spend my money, my time and energy, my personhood? It's basically wrestling with these kinds of value questions that generally are ignored until men are in their 40s. Women ignore these quesMan juggling lifetions until they get to the later 30s.

FLT:
What is happening to the family situation during all this turbulence?

Jim: When the man is going through it, anything that adds stress to the turbulence that is already there is "just what I don't need." So when teenagers put demands on their father, the washer breaks down, or the wife smashes a fender, there is a circuit overload. Sometimes I use the juggling illustration. A person has five balls up in the air (actually a lot more) by the time he gets to mid-life. Then someone gives him another five balls. It isn't just that he drops the extra five; the whole group comes down, everything collapses. It's that sense of collapse that characterizes a crisis. A man is not functioning as he used to function as a father, a worker, as a Christian leader in the community, within himself, with his mate. There is a sense of breakdown going on.

FLT: Is this breakdown a matter of overwork or is it a question of "Why am I doing what I'm doing, anyway?"

Jim: It's both. It is important to see that there are a number of things that contribute to a mid-life crisis. It isn't just that a person has turned 45. Of course, age can be significant. If age 45 triggers an internal clock in you that says that you're now counting toward death instead of counting from birth, then age becomes a stress factor. If you are also being threatened at work with more frequent evaluations and you are feeling as though you were an unwanted commodity, that creates pressures. You may also feel that your marriage is stale and you wonder why you are in a marriage that is nothing but a drag to you. There is nothing that is meaningful; everything is routine. Your kids may also be having difficulties, and you feel that you are failing at everything.

FLT: So there is not just one cause of the mid-life crisis?

Jim:
We have to be careful to guard against the oversimplification that says age is the one thing that produces a mid-life crisis. Instead, a group of factors come together. They are too much to process all at once, and there is a breakdown.

FLT:
How does the spiritual dimension enter in?

Jim: I think that the spiritual dimension may contribute to the crisis, but often late in the process. A person may feel like saying, "God, if you are alive and well, why don't you do something to help me out of this? How did I get here if you really care for me and if you love me?" Then comes a whole line of questioning: Does prayer work? Is God alive? Is the church relevant? Where is all this body life that we talk about? Nobody seems to reach out and care for me.

FLT: Are you saying then that the crisis comes, and when a person begins to realize he is overloaded, then he asks God, "Why is this happening?"

Jim: Yes, because previously he hadn't doubted that the church was right on target, that small groups were effective, that prayer really worked. But when a man begins to try to deal with turmoil in his life, he takes a new look at spiritual values he has not seriously examined since he became a Christian--if then.

FLT: So when a person is facing a major crisis in life and his faith has not grown along with his situation, there is in a sense no faith to answer the problems of life?

Jim:
Yes. I think that we can clearly see that in children. A child of three makes a decision that he wants Jesus as his Saviour and although as a person he is growing on a gradual incline both intellectually and morally, his faith grows along on a flat line until he gets challenged to a new commitment. At age 8 the kid says, "I don't think I'm saved." The reason is that the gap between faith and experience has grown very large so he makes a new commitment to become saved again. He goes along at that stage until 12 and he gets "saved" again and he gets up in his late teens and he gets 'saved" again. What really is happening is that there is just a catch-up of faith each time. I think that some people are begin ­ning to understand that. What we don't see is that the process continues all through adult life as experience demands a rethinking of our faith--not our commitment to God, but how that commitment relates to life where we are.


"We as Christians need to allow people to question, but to say to them, "You will come through it all right."


Sally: Another point is that some men who are not Christians become Christians during mid-life. They are more open to God because of all this struggle. They are rethinking their values and suddenly they take time to include God in them.

Jim: It's very fascinating. People are open to growing at any change point in their lives. Some Christians seem to think that there is no use in trying to win anyone over 18 to the Lord, but I believe we need to realize that every change point in an adult's life is an opportunity to make an impact for Christ.

FLT: Why do Christians have such a struggle during this time of their lives?Man Music Lover Headphones in shades

Sally: I think that the reason Christians may have a struggle in mid-life is the very fact that they are doubting some things. Just going through the mid-life crisis makes them feel guilty, and then if they are living it out in a way that goes against the grain of their family and church there is more condemnation heaped on them. Many women talk about their husbands developing new habits: listening to wild music, smoking, drinking or swearing. In all of this upheaval and maybe even trying out some questionable things, the men feel very guilty. Certainly these things aren't wholesome, but even worse is the feeling of being condemned. We as Christians need to allow people to question, but to say to them, "You will come through it all right."

Jim: You know, the church always comes across with the image that the problems are all solved; everyone has the answers. Our sharing times are always positive. Nobody gets up and says, "I'm really wrestling with whether God exists." It always has to be, 'I've had a struggle, but I've made it through. Praise the Lord!"

FLT: It's after the struggle that we share.

Jim: Always after, because we've not learned to let people struggle and support them as they struggle. So here is a guy who is entering into this value redefinition time in his life and he looks around and says, "If anybody else is struggling he is not doing it out loud so I must be a freak or some kind of oddball." The church is impotent to minister to people like that. Quite often, men who come out of this period in their lives look at the church and say, "I gave my time and energy to it and it did nothing for me when times were really rugged. Who needs it?" Now obviously that is not the direction we want to go. As we get these guys who are moving along in moral development, we need them in the church, not walking away from the church.

FLT:
Is the mid-life crisis a sinful condition?

Sally:
No more than adolescence is.

Jim: The condition of crisis itself is not a sin either. When you see a teenager who is feeling depressed and moody one day and hilarious the next, do you say, 'He (or she) is sinning'? Those fluctuations have something to do with the maturational changes which cause adolescents to try to put the pieces together in a new way. They are thinking through this new dimension of what it means to be a sexual being coming into an adult world. That isn't a sin.

FLT:
When does a struggle become sin?

Jim: Some of the expressions of that struggle can be sin. What we really try to do in our counseling is to help a struggling person, whether male or female. One of the common things a person in crisis feels is the desire to escape, to just run away. We try to figure out some legitimate way to meet some of those needs that will be acceptable to the person and the community, without producing guilt. For example, one woman wanted to run; she could hardly stand it. I encouraged her to do some shopping trips, some concerts, visiting college girl friends in different cities, just some short jaunts. She wanted to have friendship relationships with other men so she developed those that were safe, in a small group with some friends. What I'm saying is, we don't get people into binds with their families where they have made statements that cut off future options.

FLT: Are there some other possible causes of mid-life crisis?

Jim: There are some things that I think are chemically related which have not been adequately explored yet in all the research on mid-life crisis. I think that we are going to find some things that can help to reduce it-like not ingesting caffeine, simple little things like proper eating. Most people in mid-life are eating on the run; their bodies have taken it hard, and imbalances have developed. I think we are going to find that some chemical effects exacerbate the problem. I don't think that mid-life crisis is just a chemical problem. There are value questions that are being dealt with but the chemical imbalances may make it more difficult.

Couple Male Computer Addict Bored WifeFLT: What do women experience during their Midlife Crisis?

Sally: A lot of it is very similar to the man -- In fact, many women report to us that they read Jim's book and it fit them to a "T". They just changed the gender to female. I think that maybe one way mid ­life is very different for women is that many women at that age, instead of being burned out from having worked on their dreams, haven't had a chance to pursue them yet. Most women were very happy to become wives, homemakers, and mothers and enjoyed it. Maybe a woman who is a wife and mother really had some-thing else she wanted to do. On the other hand we talk to many career women who chose not to marry or not to have children if they did marry, but when they reach 40 they go through a difficult time of inner questioning. It seems that many women have not had an identity of their own and are trying to deal with that. Their dreams for themselves have not come true.

FLT:
How do women in mid-life crisis act?

Sally: Some women leave their families at this time. The statistics show that in certain parts of the country there are four runaway wives to every runaway man. Many of them are leaving children who are still in elementary school. They say, in effect, "I realized that if I was going to do what I wanted to do, I had to do it while I was as young as I was."

FLT: Is that selfishness or a new development? Or is it a regression to adolescence?

Sally: I don't know. I have met some outstanding, devoted Christian women who have said, as one woman did, 'I feel like I'm 36 going on 14. I'm struggling with the things I struggled with as an adolescent-adult! What I look like, who to impress, and there are some yearnings in me don't even understand." She was a woman whom I had observed over a period of time. She came across as very spiritual and mature and she obviously loved her husband and children. They had traveled extensively after they were married, and had done a great many enjoyable things together as a couple before they had their children, yet there was, this strange feeling. She should have been one of the happiest women it the world yet she wanted to run. Woman after woman tells us a similar story.

FLT: You went through Jim's mid-life crisis with him. What do you think the wife's role is to be in all of that?

Sally:
We feel very strongly that the role of the wife is very important in determining how her husband makes it through his personal crisis.

FLT: It's when being a "helpmate really comes in, isn't it?

Sally: Right. And it's the same if it's the wife who is struggling. Many times the one who is in crisis feels his or her spouse doesn't understand. But the one going through crisis needs to communicate what is going on in order to help the spouse know what he or she is going through. I think it helps to read about mid ­life crisis. Mid-life crisis often takes people off guard and they get caught up in thinking, "Oh, my this isn't like the person I married. He's out running around in a sports car with his shirt unbuttoned." We know many women who get divorces quickly and then are very, very sorry for it. Given time, the husband often works through some of these problems and he wants to get his life back together again. Often, if a couple has gone through divorce, hurtful things have been dragged out and emotions are so high that it's pretty hard to step back. On the other hand, we know many couples who have hung in there together even through temporary separations, but by working on it together they have been able to rebuild their relationship. So, yes, the wife's role is crucial during the time of mid-life crisis. That's why we stress that she has to be both spiritually and personally strong and know who she is. She needs to be assured that she is a worthwhile person because while her husband is in this struggle, he is not going to be giving her much to build her up. She has to get that from a positive self-image as well as from the support of good friends.
Family Mom and Sons Hugging and Happy
FLT: Can the children help?

Sally: I think children, depending upon their maturity, need to be aware of the parent's mid-life struggles too and be enlisted to understand and encourage. Unfortunately, kids get a lot of the pot shots from Dad. While the mid-life man is struggling with his value questions, the adolescent is too, and they often come into conflict over it. The parent is really seeing himself in that child. On the one hand, the parent wants to be authoritarian, pushing the teenager into a mold, and yet the parent is trying to cope with some of the same emotions as his adolescent child. Dads can be awfully hard on their kids, but if the kids can understand that their father is going through a rough time it can be a real help. The kids can say encouraging things, be appreciative and understanding. I know some college age kids who initially said, "Mom, why don't you just get a divorce? He shouldn't be treating you this way." But when they learned some of what their dad was struggling with, they saw things from his side, too. They came to realize that he needed a friend! They then jumped in to encourage their mother as well as stand by their dad.

FLT: It seems to me that part of the reason that Jim's mid-life crisis came out positively was because of the strong family underpinnings that you, Sally, and your three daughters had in relationship to him long before the crisis ever came.

Sally: The reason why mid-life crisis caught us off guard was that we didn't anticipate it at all. You see, before the children became adolescents we knew that there were going to be days when they would be up and down; they were going to have to make choices. But we didn't know that we were going to be doing that when we were 40. Even when we had begun to be aware of the mid-life crisis, we thought it only happened to the other guy. As Jim said, here he was a theologian and a psychologist who was experienced and knew himself well. But it simply caught us off guard. We can warn people so they know ahead of time what to expect, because just knowing helps ease the blow a little bit.

FLT:
So forewarned is forearmed?

Sally: Yes. Plus making adjustments making sure the marriage relationship is strong. I think that we had a strong marriage relationship, but Jim saidFootprints in the Sand that it had gotten stale and pretty routine. It's obvious I wasn't as sensitive to that as I should have been. So a couple needs to maintain good communication. If you are too busy, you can't do that. You need to be making some career adjustments, taking time to relax. There are some things that can help the couple reduce the stress. I think, however, that Jim would have had to answer the philosophical, meaning of life questions anyway, but his body had been so run down that he went into a real crisis.

FLT: What role does God play in all of this?

Sally:
Well, mid-life crisis doesn't take God off guard. The psalms are quite full of indications that David was aware of mid-life problems. Perhaps he was in mid-life when he got into his affair with Bathsheba. No longer a rugged warrior out doing physical activities, his role had changed. He stayed home, too valuable to be out there, and was wandering around, probably feeling somewhat displaced, when he got into trouble. I think mid-life is like any other struggle. God does not take it away but He does promise to go through it with us and make it a positive experience. We wish that being Christians would take us out of this struggle. Isaiah 43 says when we go through floods and fires God will be with us. It doesn't say, "Because you know me you won't go through the floods and fires."

 

Is it "Male Menopause," midlife crisis, or just a fad? Star Beacon Newspaper

by Carl E. Feather, Star Beacon Newspaper
(An Interview with Jim Conway Ph.D.)

While the female menopause can be proven from the standpoint of decreased estrogen production, there appears to be little hormonal basis for a corresponding male menopause.

Dr. Martin L. Mandel, a Lake Hospital System endocrinologist, said that while the levels of the male hormone testosterone decrease as a man ages, th
Man in swimming pool with wine and sombreroat in itself cannot be attributed to the psychological changes involved in midlife crisis. Typically, a man loses only 1 percent of his testosterone level annually, and male hormone usually do not begin to drop until after age 50.

"It does appear that as men age, the level of testosterone gradually drops, but if you look at aging men of 60, 70 or greater, probably only a small percent actually truly have hormone deficiency as identified by what the normal range of a hormone is," Mandel said.

Abnormally low testo
sterone levels would present symptoms of fatigue and decreased libido, erectile function and muscle strength. He does not dismiss the idea of "male menopause" as a medical condition, but said true male hormone deficiency would be to blame in a minority of males. Hormone replacement in males is not without its serious side effects, including increased risk of prostate cancer.

Jed Diamond, a therapist who directs the Men's Health Clinic at California's Long Valley Health Center, views male menopause as
the product of a combination of hormonal, physiological and chemical changes. While the male hormone levels don't decline as rapidly as estrogen levels in the menopausal female, Diamond believes the drops are sufficient to produce symptoms like hair loss, depression, forgetfulness and reduced sexual desire and impotence.

Rather than being a time of discouragement, and gloom, see this transition as an opportunity to refocus and prepare for the "Second Adulthood" — focus on being rather than doing, soul-work rather than a career, sexual fulfillment rather than performance, and relating to other men as friends and allies rather than competitors.


Conway / Farrel Articles ~    Reprint by permission only,  ©2011

Midlife Dimensions ~ www.Midlife.com


The Conways and Farrels are international speakers and popular authors.

Midlife Dimensions is a ministry founded by the Conways and continued by the Farrels.

Taking the Crisis Out of Midlife, Charisma Magazine

An interview with Jim and Sally Conway with Kathy Miller, Charisma Magazine

Will used to love his wife dearly but now he can't stand for her to touch him. He wonders if he ever really loved her. Mark's job used to challenge him but now he wants to quit. He says he has no future there; it's boring. Karen quit her job to stay home with the children. But they are so busy with school activities and friends that they don't seem to notice her. She feels worth ­less and thinks about leaving home.

And Tim constantly daydreams about flying his Cessna on an around-the-world trip. He's even thinking about taking his secretary along. "After all," he reasons, "she is sympathetic and understanding, not like my wife who only nags me." Will, Mark, Karen and Tim are in their 40s and are surprised by these emotional changes. They have been Christians for many years and active in their churches. But now they refuse to attend services. Their Bibles are falling behind the other books on the shelf. God seems remote and uncaring.

These four people are experiencing a common phenomenon: midlife crisis. "Midlife is a time when people reach the peak of a mountain range in their life and ask, 'Now that I've climbed the mountain, have I achieved what I wanted to achieve? Do I feel fulfilled?' It is a time," explain counselors Jim and Sally Conway, "of re-evaluating values for the coming years. “This re-evaluation, which commonly takes place at ages ranging anywhere from the late 30s to the mid-50s, causes most people to experience crisis.

The Conway’s, who have pastored churches for over 30 years, direct Chris ­tian Living Resources, a midlife counseling and teaching ministry started in 1981. They receive almost 1,000 letters and numerous phone calls each month from men and women who are trying to resolve their midlife crisis or understand their mate's crisis. The letters and calls are pleas for help:

Couple Dispute"My husband has been depressed for over a year."
"I want to escape from my job and family.
"My wife has run away and doesn't want to care for our family anymore."
"My husband is having an affair and says he doesn't love me."

The Conways understand. They both had similar thoughts as they struggled through their own midlife crises. Several books on the subject have emerged as a result of their experiences: Men in Mid ­life Crisis, You and Your Husband's Mid ­life Crisis and Women in Midlife Crisis.

When Mrs. Conway first began to re-evaluate her values, she did not under ­stand what was happening. "I felt frus ­trated and lonely. I became engulfed in self-pity and jealousy. All these emotions during the last half of my 30s made me feel hopeless. Jim and I thought the prob ­lem was unique to me, that I was im ­mature and unspiritual. It wasn't until later that we knew I had gone through a midlife crisis. "

As senior pastor of Twin City Bible Church in Urbana, Illinois, Conway, too, had his own traumatic period of re ­evaluation. "My crisis started with a growing unhappiness with my work in the church," Conway says. "It seemed as if I was repeating the work of the previous five years. All I could think was, 'What do I want to do with the rest of my life?' As my depression deepened, I felt drained of enthusiasm and purpose. I desperately wanted to escape."

The Conways did not find answers to their crises in a first aid kit but discovered them through re-evaluating their lives over a period of years. This has enabled them to empathize with those in crisis and help others make the midlife transition without letting it become a full blown crisis.

A transition comes about when someone moves from one era or stage of life to another, such as from childhood to adolescence, to young adulthood, to midlife adulthood and then to being elderly. However, if several stress factors converge on a person while he or she is in transition, a crisis will occur. Conway sees that many stress factors spawned his three year crisis: a close friend died prematurely; he turned 45; two of his daughters left home for college within two years; and he was pastoring a growing church. Suddenly he real ­ized how old he was becoming. Death seemed more imminent. He began to ex ­amine his values.


Even Christians face changes in midlife. But God will help you cope.


Values are "the worth a person assigns to each area of his or her thinking and life," the Conways say. Thus when situa ­tions or "change events" arise, the value a person gives each event will determine the degree of stress he or she will undergo. Many negative change events may create overwhelming stress and a re ­evaluation of values.

Anger, depression and self-pity are products of the midlife crisis. A midlife man wonders if life is worth living and concludes that warring against his soul are four enemies: his body, his work, his family and God. If he can just defeat these enemies, he will be happy again.

Unfortunately, his body is a constant reminder of his lost youth. Society con ­vinces him only the young are valuable. To deny his advancing age, he may buy a sports car, go on a diet and dress in faddish, youthful clothes. As Conway puts it, "If a man's self-worth is tied to his physical abilities, he is likely to experience loss of self-image during midlife. Instead, he needs to shift his energies to develop his mental capacities rather than rely on physical strength. During my crisis, I went back to seminary to work on my doctorate. This new challenge was helpful."

Work becomes his second opponent. If he were not trapped by his job, he would not feel depressed. His job once provided an exciting challenge, but now he has given up ever reaching his high goals. Fantasies of early retirement or just dropping out filll his mind.

"It is this very comparison of dreams versus accomplishment that cause him to experience depression. Only as a man accepts the facts of who he is and what he can realistically do, will he graciously move into the next era in life."

Because of his family's dependency, a midlife man's wife and children become his enemies. Without family obligations, he thinks, he could do what he wants. The younger woman at the office who listens to his problems suddenly appears more attractive than his wife who con ­stantly harps about leaky faucets and problems with the children.

"Perhaps the most common cause for the midlife affair is a desperate urgency to solve the trauma of lost youth and masculinity," says Conway. "A vacuum of unhappiness and someone readily available make an affair appealing to him. “At first the other woman offers excite ­ment to an otherwise dull life. But the af ­fair eventually creates greater stress. If his wife has been understanding and has left a path for him to return, he often will. Finally, this confused man cries out, "God, You're not fair. You madMan on sofa with tv remotee me this way with these drives for achievement and sex. You're my enemy. "

If the midlife man blames these enemies, instead of accepting his confusion as a time of reassessm
ent, he may try to escape through alcohol, excessive sleep or TV-watching. He will probably get angry and irritable. And he may consider early retirement. "When a man enters midlife crisis," says Conway, "he begins to feel he has too many problems. Everything keeps him from accomplishing what he wants to do. He has spent all the vigor of his youth and what has it done for him? He feels worse than ever before in his life."

As the midlife man reels from the crisis, he passes through six emotional stages, sometimes taking three to five years to do so. According to the Conways, these stages are identified as denial, anger, replay, depression, withdrawal and finally acceptance. "The denial stage can be a helpful process. The more a man denies his aging, the more his brain interacts with the concept and prepares him ultimately to accept it." Anger, the second stage, is the midlife man's way of saying, "It's unfair." He is "angry at everything and everyone. All his problems are caused by others, and no amount of advice or consolation helps him. “The replay stage occurs when he fantasizes "one more time." He may strive for one more success in business, one more new relationship, one more adventure. "This stage becomes very difficult if he has many unfulfilled dreams," points out Conway. "If he feels he has not experienced what he wants, there will be an urgency to enjoy these things. I fantasized often about sailing my boat to some unknown destination where I wouldn't have any responsibilities." Realizing that doing something one more time is not going to fulfill him, the man in midlife bogs down in the quagmire of greater depression, the fourth stage. He is even more depressed than before. He cannot stop the aging process. He feels helpless and alone in his struggle. With depression comes withdrawal, the fifth stage. He becomes sullen, moody and non-communicative. "But this stage as well as the other stages has its positive and negative aspects," Conway says. "Depression and withdrawal can bring about a healing process by giving a man time to be alone, to allow his frayed emotions to rebuild and his body to gain strength. "


The supportive wife can also build her husband's self image by reminding him of his successes and encouraging him in new areas of growth. He may seem to reject these attempts, but they will help him.


Finally, the man in crisis may reach acceptance. A tiny, but ever increasing light within him begins to recognize his assets and wisdom as a middle-aged, experienced man. "I guess I do have value," he discovers. "I can still contribute to this world and to others." According to Conway, "This acceptance causes him to enter the longest and the most satisfying stage of his life. He will be a very significant, productive and giving man. At the same time, he will maintain his own individuality, identity and privacy."

While the midlife man tries to put his life together, his wife may wonder if she can live through the stress. How can she resist his belief that she has caused all his problems? When he yells at her and the children, how can she respond with kindness and wisdom? "If the wife understands the crisis, she is less likely to believe everything is her fault," Mrs. Conway says. "She also needs to be prepared for her husband's widely vacillating moods. Saving her marriage will require her to keep herself attractive to him and be secure enough in herself to love and accept him.

"He may think or do things that are wrong, but let him sort out those values," she advises. "Trying to set him straight or rejecting his sharing will only prolong the crisis. Instead, listen non-judgmentally. “The supportive wife can also build her husband's self image by reminding him of his successes and encouraging him in new areas of growth. He may seem to reject these attempts, but they will help him.

Couple Separated SunsetAlthough difficult, the wife must give her husband the freedom to be alone or stare out the window. Those times of depression and withdrawal are necessary for his recovery. Neither Conway nor his wife was involved in an affair. But they have seen the woman's pain when her husband forsakes her. She is hurt, rejected, devastated. The man she believed in and depended on has made a mockery of their marriage vows, often claiming he never did love her. Because of the scorn, she feels she will never be able to forgive him or take him back. How can she salvage her self-esteem?

Her husband's unfaithfulness may be the most painful and apparently destructive crisis in a woman's life, but many wives live through it and grow. "As damaging as an affair is to your self  ­image, perhaps you can turn it into new growth and insight for your life. Do things that build yourself up, “the Conway’s counsel. "If you grow and eliminate friction areas, your husband may find it a pleasure to be with you once again."

Above all, a woman needs to depend on God for emotional strength. Without assurance that He is working out the problems, she can become despondent. She will regain new strength through Bible study, prayer and the support of understanding friends. Conway was able to help himself through his crisis. "Physical exercises cleared my mind and drained off emotional tension. I took on new challenges in education and writing books. What I was eating and how I rested became more important to me. Eventually, I could talk to Sally and share my anguish. "But the most significant person in my crisis was God. I increased my time spent in Bible study and prayer." Conway became deeply aware that God was his ally, not his enemy. "He impressed me with His sufficiency in all stresses of life.

In the midst of his crisis, after struggling for over a year, Conway had concluded he would leave his family and drive south. As he lay in bed, planning his escape, his thoughts wandered. "How do you know everything will work out all right? Well, God has always been faithful to me in the past. I'm sure I can depend on Him in this new circumstance." At that point, Conway says, "God quietly intervened: 'If you can trust Me to care for you when you run away to a new circumstance, why can't you trust Me now to take you through this struggle?' All the voices in his mind were suddenly quiet. He dropped off to sleep and woke up the next morning with peace. Everything did not change overnight, but a gradual optimism grew in the days and months that followed.

"God had been working from many different directions," Conway reflects, "changing me when I couldn't help myself. He sent me books, friends, a gracious wife and family, all with the purpose of moving me through my midlife crisis to a new settled, productive era.

"It's time for Christians to acknowledge the crisis of midlife people. They need sympathetic understanding and support from the community of believers. Sally and I survived that crisis and are stronger because of it. We want others to grow successfully through it."'

 

Love During the Difficult Times, Billy Graham magazine DECISION

by Sally Christon Conway  ©1997
Published in the Billy Graham magazine DECISION


"Wait here a minute," my husband Jim said. He had just brought me home from the airport. I had been gone nearly a month to visit my elderly mother and to care for one of our daughters who was ill.

As I waited in the hallway, Jim turned on the compact disc player, and the lilting melody of my favorite ragtime song filled the house. A wonderful aroma filled the air. In the kitchen I found the breadmaking machine just finishing a loaf of bread, perfectly timed for my arrival home. I opened the refrigerator and discovered one of my favorite treats--a watermelon. What wonderful "little" things Jim had prepared to show his love for me!


Those signs of aging were beautiful to me, and many times I told myself, "This is real love! Jim's sacrificial deeds mean more than any romantic words that he could say to me."


Happy incidents like this help keep our romance alive. However, sometimes ugly tasks and tedious commitments we carry out speak more loudly of love, than do the sentimental and sweet words.

Some years ago I underwent a mastectomy and also had many malignant lymph nodes removed. A few days after surgery a serious infection developed in my chest. It needed to be drained and dressed twice a day, but I could not do it myself.

Every day for 10 months Jim tenderly cleaned that gaping cavity, then carefully put on clean dressings and a wide elastic bandage. Never did he complain. When I tried to thank him or to apologize for the mess, he said, "I'm here to serve you."

While Jim cared for me, I would look up into his gentle face. The firm, muscular person whom I had married 37 years earlier had developed bags under his eyes and deep wrinkles down his cheeks. His mop of curly hair was now thin and graying.


Those signs of aging were beautiful to me, and many times I told myself, "This is real love! Jim's sacrificial deeds mean more than any romantic words that he could say to me."


Those signs of aging were beautiful to me, and many times I told myself, "This is real love! Jim's sacrificial deeds mean more than any romantic words that he could say to me."

Jim was a living example of Jesus' astonishing act of washing the dirty feet of his disciples. We often say that we believe in Jesus' teachings about servanthood, but Jim wasn't just speaking the words--he was doing what he believed.

The sweet and fun times in our lives have been good--but this difficult time demonstrated to me what genuine love and romance are all about.

Jim's note:
In 1997, Sally died of breast cancer. Her death has left a gaping hole in my life and in the ministry here at Midlife Dimensions. I have assumed Sally's organizational duties and I'm continuing to write, counsel and speak at conferences, but I do miss her brilliant insights, wit, and spiritual strength.