A Life Transition is a time of change, where the rules are different, where expectations are different and our way of being needs to be different.
- In many parts of the world a child becomes an “adult” at 18. He can get his driver’s license, she can buy alcohol in a bar and bottle store, he can buy cigarettes, she can sign her name to a piece of paper and bind herself to a commitment for life, he can go to war, he can go to jail, she can vote, and in most cases they leave school, get a job or go to college. They also have their first serious girl/boyfriend.
- With all that, they are also expected to make the transition from childhood to adulthood. In some societies this transition happens with an initiation ceremony conducted by Elders who pass on their cultural knowledge.
- In 1st World, Western Society he is taken out and gets drunk and gets a pat on the back from the “men”. What he is not told is what a man is, how a man should conduct himself, what manhood entails. Many boys create their sense of belonging in gangs and in substance abuse.
- She has her period, with or without being told what is going on in her body and is assumed to now be a woman.
- They get their first career job knowing virtually nothing about money, saving, debt and HP in a consumer world.
- Sometime in their 20s or 30s they get married (or establish a permanent ‘live-in” relationship). If they are lucky they will get some guidance and they may go for counselling sometime before the wedding. In most cases they are going to walk into being the “man / woman of the house” blind. What are the rules for living with this other person 24/7?
- Sometime later they become parents. What does fatherhood entail? There is a crisis of fatherhood in our societies. We suffer an appallingly high incidence of family violence perpetrated by the father, a high rate of absentee fathers through abandonment, overwork and lack of understanding of the father’s role. What role model does this new father have? The popular media portray men as buffoons at best and as rapists, child molesters and killers at worst.
- What does it mean to be a mother? What support is there for a young woman, burdened with the responsibility for the life and well-being of this other person? Her parents may be living 1000s of kilometres away, friends are probably just as ignorant, and neighbours are strangers. And what of the guilt if maternal instinct doesn’t kick in like it’s supposed to.
- In his 40s his career levels off and many of his dreams remain unrealised. Does he sit back and allow life to happen to him or does he go out into his community and create different dreams – and who is there to help him through this “change of life?
- In her 40s she may finally be able to get out of child-care and get back to her career. Often it becomes a necessity – with divorce at 50% and / or with his mid-life crisis, she needs to become a breadwinner again.
- At 65 he is retired. 95% of men and their families do not have sufficient money for an extended retirement, but worse, most men have not planned for the psychological assault that ‘honourable employment brings. “How am I going to spend my time? How do I stay physically and mentally active?”
- At 65, she too is retired, and with only having got back to work in her 40s there will definitely not be enough money to support children and probably aging parents.
- As a society we place little or no value on the skills and knowledge retirees take with them and we place no value on their status as Elders. Instead we place them in Retirement Homes and wait for them to die. And die they do – quickly! The life expectancy of a man who works to retirement age and then “goes on pension” unprepared, is 18 months to 3 years.
- Women used to fare better, with a circle of friends and with interests outside of work, but more and more, they too are facing a “crisis of purpose” and are succumbing to death by boredom.
And there are other psychological transitions – the death of their parents, possibly the death of a child and spouse, but also the death of their immortality – the loss of fitness and of the body beautiful.
In sync with the changes above, are those that happen without our noticing – and they, more or less, follow a 7 year cycle.
(For a more detailed look at our developmental stages, have a look at the page on Models of Development Click here )
From 0 – 7 we are like sponges, we have not yet developed our ability to critically evaluate what we are told so we believe everything. Don Miguel Ruiz describes this enculturation in great detail in his masterwork The 4 Agreements (ISBN1-878424-31-9)
From 7 – 14 we develop our view of the world – is the world kind, is it fair?
From 14 – 21 we form our opinions and the world belongs to us.
From 21 – 28 we qualify in a chosen career, we start to build that career and we have our first long-term relationship.
From 28 – 35 we build our family, our career and our lifestyle.
From 35 – 42 we achieve the goals we set in our 20s (or not) and we ask the question “what now?”
From 42 – 49 we redefine ourselves (or we deny that things have changed).
From 49 – 56 our children have left home, our career has flattened off or gone into decline, we have re-invented our self (or resisted and pushed on through).
From 56 – 63 we notice a loss in physical ability, we are no longer interested in the rat-race and our ego (along with our testosterone and oestrogen) quietens down.
From 63 – 70 we have retired and have created a new life and a new way of being.
From 71 – 77 we slow down and the aches and pains increase. We might need some bionic replacements, knees and hips, and depending on our lifestyle, the arteries may not be flowing as well as they should. Emotionally we start to experience the death of our friends and our immortality is seriously in question.
From 78 – 85 we have started to get frail, a fall is a big deal and we have to rely more and more on others. If we have not already done so, it is important to prepare for our own death. And there is no reason that we shouldn’t live into our next 7 year cycle.
Men drive themselves hard and don’t take time to notice these Transitions. For them, life is a competition, a striving to get ahead of the other guy. So admitting confusion, a sense of loss and a lack of direction is not an option. We’ll talk sport, but we won’t talk about what’s happening at a heart level. We push on through each Transition as if it weren’t there, but there are things to learn and if we don’t “get it” now it will come back and bite us later. This is why our mid-life is often a crisis; our Transitions have built up like a tsunami.
Women still live longer than men (by up to 8 years on average). They are better at talking to friends and accept that therapy can help when the going is tough. So, while the financial burden of retirement may be at least as great as that for men, the psychological impact is cushioned by supportive relationships.
So this site provides a forum for men to “talk” to other men about the changes they are going through and for them to re-discover their “masculine side.” The “masculine side” that has been reduced to a sort of “hunter/warrior” mentality. Yet men have been the artists, the musicians, the scholars, the sages, the visionaries – as well as the hunter/warriors.
For women, the site provides a window into the soul of men, their husbands, partners and friends. It is also a place for women to talk to each other, but they do that anyway – so it is a place for them to talk to men about what is happening in their lives, and perhaps this time we’ll listen.
If you are interested in exploring these 7 year cycles further go to Our 7 Year Cycles