Middle age is the point at which personalities come into balance. Typically, up until this point, we are focused on the development of productive and social skills. This proceeds in bursts, as opportunity and necessity call development forth. In middle age, we are no longer focused principally on strengthening our individual personality. Rather, we become concerned with systematizing the application of our strength to focus the energies of others.
Prior to this time, we can generally focus the energies of those in our immediate circle. Until middle age, however, we have difficulty sustaining that focus because we lack the power to influence pervasively their environment.
For women, middle age occasions a deep crisis of the personality: menopause. The urge to bond that drives the years of their fertility fades, and the dominant limbic modes give way to a more balanced personality. This can be an opening into new adventures, or it can feel like losing their mind. Memories lapse, and their emotional responses are unstable.
Their intimates may also find this a difficult time, because their personalities are deeply integrated with someone going through rapid change. It is, in effect, adolescence in reverse, and many men are not supportive. They may enter a second adolescence, and attempt to preserve the prevailing psychological mode by pursuing romantic alliances with women far younger than they. A more creative response is to use the change as an opportunity to broaden the relationship, perhaps by deepening their social partnership. In that case, the couple can emerge from their travails stronger and more powerful than ever.