No one said growing older is easy.
But it certainly gets more complicated if you start cheating on your wife with the hot new intern, go into debt trying to pay for a top-of-the-line hair transplant or, God forbid, start playing in a secret rotisserie baseball league a la Paul Rudd in Knocked Up.
And while a breakdown in your late thirties or beyond might seem weirdly sexy from afar, the consequences can be dire. With that in mind, here are five expert tips for heading a mid-life crisis off at the pass. Not at that point just yet? Read this now and thank us later.
1. Treat Your Body Right.
Eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly will help keep your body and mind right. “Stay in shape,” suggests Dr. Bruce Rays, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the UCLA Medical Group in Malibu, California. “Instead of losing tone and muscle and looking like you’re getting older, then fearing aging, you’ll look healthy and strong and stay that way. Sex is important, too.”
2. Remember the ‘You’ in Your Life.
When you get into a committed relationship, ‘me’ turns into ‘us’. “Keep doing the things you like to do,” advises Jane Meskill, LSCW, a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon. “It’s all about balance.” Maintain your friendships, something many guys fail to do when they get hitched. Make regular plans to shoot pool or go golfing with the guys to stay in touch with your old self. At the same time, continue to pursue the things you are personally passionate about to keep your mind off hot interns—and hair plugs.
3. Allow Yourself Guilty Pleasures.
When you decide that the Harley Davidson is too much of an indulgence while you’re in your prime, it gets pushed to the back of your mind, only to resurface in mid-life. Then you go crazy buying new toys and jeopardizing their future finances. So it’s actually better to allow yourself a splurge here and there along the way. “Go shop at John Varvatos—why not have a youthful wardrobe and be able to fit into it?” asks Rays. “And it won’t be so extreme as a mid-life crisis if you have a car you feel youthful in no matter what age.”
4. Keep Your Relationship Fresh.
Relationships are work, and kids multiply it, says Meskill. “A man sometimes loses his wife to the children and family situation,” she oberves. “If you can’t transition back into the boyfriend and girlfriend stage, you’re going to realize that you have this much life left to live, you’re getting older, and you’ll want to do things.” That’s typically when men go out and have affairs. Steer clear by making sure you still have some along time with your wife, and by being as creative as possible in bed, of course.
5. If You Haven’t Already, Start Talking.
You might find that your significant other has some of the same questions flying through her head that you do. “Make the things you want clear and don’t let things build up and blow up,” says Meskill. Who knows, maybe she always wishes she had gone heli-skiing in Alaska, too, and you can plan a trip together.