Age Specific Relationship Challenges for Men

A friend asked me this really great question: “What are the specific challenges that men face in relationships at during each decade?” The question naturally led me to want to blog about it, and share it with you all. I accounted for three periods: 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, as these are generally the periods of life I work with, but feel free to add your own experiences/other decade challenges.

20-30’s: Still settling down, and finding themselves. Work and jobs are sporadic, so lots of long-distance relationships and conflict as a result. Guys in their 20’s are still into hooking up and partying, so they’re looking more for women who fit this bill (generally). Some get married, but are unhappy because the marriage is too early, or it wasn’t right for them (maturity levels low).

30-40’s: Settling down, getting married and having children. Guys have to deal with their lost youth and death of the “wild horse” mentality. Some guys hold onto youthful entrapments, such as partying, alcohol, video games, etc., which creates relationship/marriage tension and fighting this way. This is where the communication problems and issues start to ferment, for problems later into the next stage. Not knowing how to deal with everything: being a new dad, added responsibilities with their work/careers, and juggling it all creates stress and relationship strain. A lot of guys tend to start having problems, because they didn’t learn how to take care of themselves earlier on, or didn’t really have a need to take care of anyone else (e.g. wife, kid) other than themselves.

40-50’s: Kids are growing, and problems have fermented another decade. Couple has drifted away from each other, and the problems that have arisen in the 10-15 years since marriage have been avoided, or not dealt with. Money, things, trips have all been used as “happiness surrogates,” and are employed to stave off dealing with the real problems of unhappiness, sexual problems, loss of love, etc. Some men start to have affairs (although earlier stages, too) or lose themselves in other diversions other than their marriage, because that’s what they know, and that’s what culture encourages (alcohol, sports, video games, porn, etc.). Couple needs to reinvent their marriage, and create a reason to be together, other than “for the kids”. Men will also lose themselves in work and career, which is a socially-sanctioned place to go, yet slowly erodes a relationship over time. A lot of men who over-identify themselves with their work and careers unconsciously avoid their wives and their problems by dedicating themselves to their work. Phsycial problems can start to manifest as a function of problems not dealt with, with leads to depression, stress, pain, fatigue, etc. The body speaks, even when men are not.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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