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Midlife Wisdom for Men Newsletter Issue #021, November 1, 2004
November 01, 2004
Midlife Wisdom for Men - Helping Men Navigate Midlife Transitions.


Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2004


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Issue #021, November 1, 2004

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

Mature Men and Younger Women: Getting in Touch With Your Soul Mate

Why You Can't Think When You Are Stressed Out

How To Know What You Are Feeling


Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

You've probably experienced it... you meet a woman that 'lights your board'. There is just something about her that turns you on. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung would say it is your 'anima' or 'inner feminine' that you are seeing reflected in her. There are two times in our lives when our anima is especially active. The danger is we will become infatuated with a flesh-and-blood woman, thinking it is her, not our 'inner feminine' that will make us happy.

Ever notice how when you are in a stressful situation your brain goes dead? You can't remember things (think of exam time when we were students), or you've had a tough day with much rushing around and when you get home you realize you forgot an important errand? Turns out its all due to protein kinase C.

Women often complain that their men won't tell them what they are feeling. We men know that usually it's because we have no idea what we are feeling, or even if we are feeling anything. About twenty five years ago I developed a little technique for discovering what I was feeling. It worked pretty well, and I've done it so long its almost automatic now. I used to feel badgered when my ex-wife wanted to know what I was feeling, but I've learned it can actually be useful at times.

There are 2079 words in the articles in this newsletter, which should take about 10 minutes to read. Hope you enjoy it. ==============================================

Mature Men and Younger Women: Getting in Touch With Your Soul Mate

I have several friends who, when they were in their early fifties fell in love with younger women, left their wives, and lived in chaos, guilt, bliss and infatuation for a couple of years. Eventually they left the younger women and got back together with their wives.

The 'mature man becoming infatuated with a younger woman' situation is very common in middle age. Carl Jung who says we are not just men, or just women, but rather we all have our opposite-sex counterpart as an archetypal image in our unconscious. Jung says that a man's 'anima' (inner feminine) consists of four feminine images:

  • Eve - who represents the Mother of all things
  • Helen, as in Helen of Troy, the Beauty, the face that launched a thousand ships
  • Mary - the Spiritual Companion
  • Sophia - Feminine Wisdom

When we are kids, our inner picture of the ideal feminine is the Mother, and our own mom pretty much fills the bill. Or maybe the ideal here is a friend's mom, who is a little less strict or maybe more fun than our own mom.

When we hit puberty, that starts to change, and the ideal feminine starts looking more like Helen of Troy. She is beautiful, sexy, and alluring. The centre-fold beauty in the playboy magazine we hide under our mattress might be the ultimate image for us, but Jean, or Cathy or one of the other girls in our class, who has grown luscious breasts and filled out in other attractive ways, starts looking pretty good too.

At some point during puberty we fall in love. Older folks call it 'puppy love', by which they mean infatuation, but to us it is real, and there is no feeling like it.

What we are falling in love with is an outer reflection of our ideal 'inner feminine', or what Bill Roberts, author of Crossing the Soul's River: A Rite of Passage for Men, calls our Soul Mate.

Of course the girl we are in love with is also infatuated with us, because we match her perfect 'inner masculine' image, or what Jung called the 'animus'.

Then, as inevitably happens with young love, one or the other of the lovers sees something in the beloved that doesn't match the inner picture, the scales fall from our eyes, and its over.

We suffer a broken heart, slowly recover, perhaps vowing never to go through THAT again, and then... whoa, who's that good-looking chick over there? Man I gotta MEET her. And here we go again!

Next thing you know we are adults. We get married, have kids - all the normal business of younger adult years. We marry a woman who fits our inner picture of Helen (beauty, sex), but when we have a family, maybe she starts looking more like our childhood inner picture of Mother too. But who's to notice? We're both so busy we just put our heads down, arses up, and go as hard as we can.

Then comes midlife. The pressure is off a little, and the big questions start bubbling up. The anima (inner picture of ideal feminine, remember?) starts getting more active again too. First thing you know we are kicked back into the old adolescent conflict between Eve (Mother) and Helen (Beauty). The danger is that in flailing around trying to get some resolution to this conflict, we will project the undesired feminine onto our wife - she starts looking like a nagging mother (we jokingly call her "the war department" or "the ball and chain") - and project the idealized feminine onto a younger, sexy "other woman" - who is bliss itself.

Now... this kind of infatuation doesn't have any better chance of lasting now than it did when we were teenagers. At some point the scales fall from our eyes, and we discover the sex goddess we have hooked up with is just a person, albeit maybe a sexy, good-looking one.

At this point we might begin to see our wife with new eyes, and if we haven't caused too much damage at home, maybe we can get back together with her and both of us move into the 'spiritual companion' phase of our relationship (which is how my marriage with Elizabeth feels to me now), and eventually move on to 'feminine wisdom'. Again realizing that all this stuff is an inside job... part of growing in wisdom and fulfillment as a man is getting more in touch with our inner feminine.

If you are married, and find yourself 'irresistibly' attracted to some high-breasted young thing, it might be a lot less painful for all involved if you hold off having and affair with her until you have a chance to take a look inside yourself. If it means getting a counsellor to help you, that might a good idea too.

A couple of caveats:

  • I am not saying that ALL relationships between mature men and younger women are bound to fail. I have friends in relationships with women ten and even twenty years younger than themselves, and they are very happy together.
  • Some marriages fail because they just aren't going to work, whether a younger woman is in the picture or not. Still, its best to avoid a new relationship while you are still married.

A man in a midlife transition and a woman in menopause can be a real tough combination. Both are dealing with major life issues, and sometimes just hanging in there till that stage passes is all you can do.


Biologically, it makes more sense for older women to have sex with younger men- unless they want to talk afterwards. Joan Collins


Why You Can't Think When You Are Stressed Out

You know how it is... you get in a rip-roaring argument with your boss or your wife, and only when its over do you think of what you SHOULD have said. As it was, you just reacted without thinking and came up with some genius expression such as 'screw you'.

I don't know how many times this kind of thing has happened to me, and it never seems fair! Why would my brain quit just when I need it the most?

Well... there is a chemical explanation, and it's even possible that long ago, the 'brain dead' syndrome was useful. Even critical.

Here's the scoop. Stress affects the prefrontal cortex, the executive section of our brain that regulates thought, behaviour and emotion. And new research suggests the way it does it is through a messenger compound called protein kinase C (PKC). When you get stressed, your PKC production goes up, your creativity drops, and you can't remember stuff (like that whip-smart comeback to your boss you could have thought of if you weren't so riled).

When Amy Arnsten and her colleagues at Yale Medical School increased PKC levels in rats and monkeys, the animals got stupid. Before the test, they had an easy time finding a chocolate chip they had seen before. But after getting a chemical that increased their PKC levels, they had trouble finding it.

PKC may also be involved in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as people suffering from both diseases appear to have elevated PKC levels. Arnsten and her team are now working to see whether blocking PKC production can help.

So what's the point of 'getting dumb' when you are under stress? Some scientists think it is because it can be helpful to be reactive under stress. When a saber-tooth is after you, you want to react instinctively, not stop and ponder what the best course of action might be.

Ok, but what do you do in OUR WORLD when you are stressed? Maybe the best thing is calm down. Take a break, count to ten. Let your PKC level drop. I know when I was a TV news reporter facing a tight deadline and my brain wouldn't cooperate, I would take a short break, have a coffee, and think about something else. When I got back to my keyboard, even if only five minutes later, the words seemed to flow, and I invariably met the deadline.


I'd like to live like a poor man with lots of money. Pablo Picasso


How To Know What You Are Feeling

One of my coaching clients a while back was complaining that his wife always wanted to know 'what he was feeling'.

'When I tell her I'm not feeling anything', he said, 'she gets mad and thinks I'm withholding.' I have heard this complaint from men many times, and I used to have it myself.

As I worked with this man, he began to realize he actually did have lots of feelings, but he either didn't know what they were, or he didn't want to admit them to her (for example, he didn't like admitting he resented something she had done because it seemed too 'small'.)

We men have been socialized from the time we are wee tads to discount our feelings. In fact it seems to me we are only 'allowed' about four feelings: anger, lust, 'feeling good', and 'love' (often another name for lust).

Here is a process I developed, that worked for me, and has worked for other men, for discovering your feelings. After while, you do it automatically.

  • First, I learned to pay attention to my gut, especially when I was in an emotional situation such as an argument or some other conflict. When I had a 'hit' in my solar plexus area (where emotions reside), I would think to myself 'uh-oh, I'm having a feeling', even though I wouldn't know exactly what the feeling was.
  • Next, I would think to myself, 'what is a logical way to feel under these circumstances? (Anger? Sadness? Resentment? etc.)
  • When I came up with what seemed like a logical feeling, I would check in with my gut to see if that was what I was in fact feeling. Often it was.
  • Last, I would tell the person I was in conflict with (often my wife), what I was feeling, and what it was about the situation that made me feel that way. This was the hardest part of the process, but often the most valuable and rewarding (it often brought about a little extra nooky, for example).

Next time your wife wants to know what you are feeling about a situation, just say, 'hang on honey, let me go inside and check', then go through the process. You might be surprised at the results!


Just For You: A Free Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning Report

If you are a new subscriber to this newsletter, you will recall I promised you a link to a secret page on the Midlife Men's site where you can download a free 27-page report on 'DIY Retirement planning' by George Slater.

Welcome to the newsletter, and for your free report, go to: DIY Retirement E-Report , click on the link, and follow the instructions.



Learn to be a Teleclass Facilitator

If you are a facilitator/speaker/professional who gives lectures or workshops, you can do it from home and make money. Teleclasses (also known as teleseminars) using telephone bridge lines, are becoming increasingly popular, and and a very inexpensive way to deliver high-quality training. I took training in teleclass leadership from Teleclass International which I highly recommend.



If you have something you want to advertise, just send me a note at



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I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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