By Debbie Magids, Ph.D.
When your parents and relatives speak about “the good old days,” you can’t help but wonder — were they really that good? Men were the breadwinners, women were the homemakers and the stages of life were predetermined.
Traditionally, your identity crisis began at age 40
By 25, a woman was married with at least one baby or she was considered to be an “old maid” — at 25, a man typically had a career and a “traditional” wife, or was deemed a failure. At 30 a woman was expected to devote her life to cooking, cleaning and raising the kids — meanwhile, a 30-year-old man usually worked a 60-hour week to get ahead. By 40, it was time for the “mid-life crisis” to begin. At that age, a man usually bought a sports car, if he wasn’t having a tryst with his secretary — and his female counterpart struggled with empty nest syndrome. Alone for the first time, reality would set in: who was a woman supposed to be if she wasn’t wiping someone’s nose?
Today, turning 40 signals that you’re at the prime of your life
Well, today is definitely nothing like your parents expected it to be. You’re living in a post-millennium world now. Society has evolved, along with the individual notion and perception of what constitutes “age.” Forty is — by anyone’s standards — considered to be young, smart and sexy; just look to Hollywood for myriad examples. Several “older” leading ladies have taken up with much younger men, sparking the cougar phenomenon. A 40-year-old has outlived the angst of his or her younger days and now walks with an air of confidence that wasn’t there before.
What’s changed since then?
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Technology and science have allowed us to look and feel more youthful and energetic as well. We know more about exercise, nutrition and what it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A woman doesn’t need to rush into pregnancy for fear of becoming too old, rendering her infertile. It’s actually common now for couples to marry and have children in their thirties and forties, ensuring that mom and dad are equally ready for the responsibility of providing and caring for the kids.
People are generally living longer and feeling better than they did half a century ago. Feeling your age no longer has to mean feeling old and/or worn out; instead, your forties have the potential to be the best decade of your life.
7 tips for making the most of love — and life — in your forties
1. If you’re single, get out there and find your soul mate. Remember, flirt like you did in your twenties, but use the lessons you learned in the years since then.
2. If you are married, add a little spice to your relationship. Be spontaneous, buy new bedding, light candles — reinvent the passion you felt when you first met.
3. Take a look in your closet and renovate your wardrobe. A new piece of clothing can do wonders for your mood.
4. Hate your job? Want to start a new career? Try not to be afraid of change. Erase any thoughts you have about competing with a bunch of twenty-somethings... you are the new person to watch out for!
5. Always regretted not backpacking cross-country after college? Get your hiking gear ready — you’re about to go traveling.
6. Take an acting class. It’s a great way to exercise your inner child and become more confident and playful.
7. Whatever that “thing” was that you’ve always regretted not doing, it’s time to do it... visit a foreign country, skydive, climb a mountain, read War and Peace.
You can do it!
You only get one shot at this life and you’re still young enough to fulfill your dreams, correct mistakes and make sure you don’t wind up with any regrets. Remember, 40 is the new 20, only better!
Debbie Magids, Ph.D. is the coauthor of All the Good Ones Aren’t Taken: Change the Way You Date and Find Lasting Love.