Michelle Golland: Jon Gosselin is right -- he is a little young for a "midlife crisis," which usually falls between the ages of 40-60. I believe he is actually in a really late-onset adolescent rebellion. You see, he is acting out his rebellion against his wife/mommy, whom he never stood up to in the marriage. Now Jon can drink all the beer he wants, smoke, pierce his ears, and wear really unattractive clothes, and Kate can't shame or humiliate him out of this behavior.
In reality, the behavior that Jon is displaying is of course similar to the classic midlife crisis. This crisis time in a man or woman's life (yes, we do this too) is really a period of transition usually brought on by some other external crisis, such as the death of a parent, change in job, or kids going off to school. This transition time is when people take stock of where they are in life and make some needed changes to the way they live their life.
These changes don't need to mean divorce or disintegration of the relationship. It may actually be a good time for each of you to look at your life and decide what you are doing that works, what is not working, and how you can go about improving or creating the life you truly want to live as individuals and as a couple.
At these big transition times, I think it is a good idea as a couple to sit down and do a 5-year individual plan and a 5-year couplehood plan. You each can list out the goals and desires you have for yourself and also as a couple. This may include such things as taking classes, seeing certain places, having another child, or learning to meditate.
Some people have a painful time with these transition states and may need to get some counseling to cope. If you or your partner are experiencing things that are listed below, you may want to consider getting some help.
• Unhappiness with things that used to bring you great joy.
• Boredom with people or things that used to be of interest to you.
• Feeling a need for adventure and change.
• Questioning big life choices from the past and having major regret.
• Confusion about who you are and where you are going.
• Feeling tied down and increased anger at your spouse.
• Being unable to make decisions.
• Doubt that you ever loved your spouse.
• A desire for a new and passionate intimate partner.
People with avoidant personality traits will most likely end up in divorce court during this stage of life because they have a deep fear of shame and rejection, and they avoid the conflict to the point that they don't want to work on themselves or their relationship at all. These men and women usually just walk away rather than face their problems directly. They don't want to try to work them out and find solutions. These individuals use the transition as their way out, but unless they do the personal work needed, they will find themselves in another relationship doing the same behaviors, which will in the end leave them still empty and still in crisis.
As a clinical psychologist, it is clear to me that Jon Gosselin did just that -- he avoided conflict with Kate at all costs. He also appears to suffer from feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. The men and women similar to Jon Gosselin fear getting overwhelmed by their emotions, so they simply shut down and become emotionally distant and often depressed. They believe the only solution is to leave. Let's just hope that Jon gets the counseling he needs to truly understand himself and what is motivating his late-onset adolescent rebellion, because after six months, I will have to label it chronic.
|Dr. Golland is a USC graduate and a licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY#16974). She works with adults, teens and is an expert in the field of marriage and relationships. Dr. Golland has given her expert advice on CNN, HLN, MSNBC, ABC, and Fox news. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two wonderfully exhausting children.|