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FAMILY FUSION: Midlife for the man (4)

Reverend Haynesley Griffith, [email protected]

FAMILY FUSION: Midlife for the man (4)

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Your destiny is to fulfil those things upon which you focus most intently. So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting and joyful. Your life is always moving toward something. – Ralph S. Marston Jr.


RENOWNED BUSINESS executive and motivational speaker John Maxwell said that a person can “play now and pay later or pay now and play later”. What a profound statement. It is very relevant within the context of men at midlife. There are many men I have encountered who, having reached midlife, are sharply focused, very secure and possess a determined sense of destiny and clearly defined purpose. These are men who understood the expression “pay now and play later”.

In sharp contrast, I have also met other men who, having realised midlife was upon them, didn’t know where to go and what to do with their future. While some of them fought vigorously to improve themselves, others resorted to negative lifestyles, all of which were means of “medicating” themselves from facing the inevitable. These are the males who unfortunately fall through the cracks in midlife because they chose not to be serious in maximising their God-given capabilities and were now paying the consequences.

Throughout my last three articles, I have been emphasising that wisdom and common sense should dictate that every man needs to understand that the chances of their coming face to face with midlife are very great and therefore planning for it should not be optional, but vitally essential. There are too many able bodied young males who are “playing now” and ignoring the responsibility that rests on their personal shoulders to do something positive and productively with their lives. Thinking about paying the painful consequences as they reach midlife seems very far removed from their minds. They must never be encouraged to believe that the state or charitable organisations were established to prop them up when they reach midlife. Although midlife will bring with it its normal twists and turns, working towards enjoying it should be the desirable goal of all men.

Tim Conway in his book Men In Midlife Crisis listed ten practical areas the midlife man can embrace to help him cope with his life at this transition time. I shall expand on each of them.

First, physical exercise. The benefits of physical exercise are numerous. It has been proven to drain off much emotional, mental and physical stress and strain from the human machine. Walking, swimming, jogging, and aerobics, just to name a few, set up a strong wall of defence against some of the opportunistic diseases that prey on men at midlife.

Second, exploring “some new challenges”. Taking on an area of study that can stimulate and stretch the mind is a worthwhile venture. The writing of a book is a healthy project; after all your vast experience and wealth of knowledge accumulated over the years can be of great benefit to younger minds. Photography, stamp collecting, cooking, doing volunteer work, becoming a mentor to young men, just to name a few other undertakings, can keep your midlife engines running productively.

Third, taking care of your body. Eating lots of fresh vegetables, high fibre foods, reducing your fat intake, and generally eating a good balanced meal every day will be applauded by your body. A 27-year study which involved more than 19 000 Harvard University graduates revealed that people at midlife who are not overweight live longer, do not die from heart disease and experience better health than those who do not keep themselves lean.

Fourth, explore a change of scenery. If you want to lift your spirit, and enjoy the simple and less complex things of life, plan to get out of your familiar environment more often. Taking a leisurely drive in the countryside at sunrise, or enjoying a sunset with family and friends, going sailing or fishing, spending a weekend away from home, or even visiting somewhere you have not gone for years, can be very therapeutic. These breaks help to revive the inner and outer man.

Fifth, listening to your favourite music. Wholesome, back-in-time music, coupled with modern favourite hits, still seems to bring back memories that stimulate some positive emotional cords that calm the soul at midlife. Let the music play.

Sixth, talking. Sharing your feelings, fears, and anxieties with your spouse or a trusted friend can greatly reduce much of the pent-up tension you may have inside. Such an exercise is a means of “flushing” your soul of those negative pent-up emotions while giving the inner man an opportunity to inhale fresh breaths of pleasant thoughts.

Seventh, rest. Rest gives the body an opportunity to repair itself as well as allow it to be recharged for additional work. Inadequate rest over time can throw off the body’s equilibrium and create some unwelcome health issues. In Exodus 31:17 we read “. . . the Lord made heaven and earth and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed”. Good counsel for the midlife man.

Eighth, have regular medical checks. Too many men when reaching middle life have ignored this advice to their own premature death. Remember taking care of your health is your personal responsibility. Never neglect such a valuable asset.

Ninth, take care of your mental health. Devoting time to planning ahead, processing information, reading daily, searching the Internet for current affairs and developing new concepts to enrich the mind are healthy. Constructing healthy mental blocks will pay great dividends for your future.

Tenth, develop intimacy with God. Place God on the front burner of your life. God must not be seen as someone who may be a part of your life, but the very axis on which the life revolves. Apostle Paul reminded a group of people some of whom were in their middle phase that it is “. . . in Him (God) we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Midlife bridges two gaps: the past and the future. My Sunday school teacher often told us as young men, “You must bear the yoke in your youth.” That sound advice never left me.

Men, make excellent use of your present opportunities by stretching yourself to be your very best in all areas of your life. When you reach midlife, looking back and planning to go forward should be pleasant and peaceful, not meaningless and miserable.

Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]