My husband is having a reverse midlife crisis
Older and wiser: Shona and husband Keith, who is planning to give up alcohol in the week
Lately, my husband’s behaviour has veered from slightly strange to, frankly, downright suspicious.
He’s been switching his mobile off for unaccountable chunks of time in the day; coming home and heading straight for the shower and, worst of all, clearing his history on Google, which — as any wife knows — is a sure sign that he’s up to no good.
I’m a little worried, to be honest. Keith has just turned 44. He is losing hair on his head but finding it in his ears and up his nose, and is generally exhibiting all the symptoms of a man hurtling towards a mid-life crisis faster than the collapse of the eurozone.
What, I’ve been wondering, is the worst that can happen Will he get a tattoo, have an affair with a 20-year-old who has time to shave her legs or — worse still — start gallivanting around in leather trousers
Asit turns out, I needn’t have worried. Or perhaps I should be worrying more. Because last week he finally came clean. He’s been doing a lot of soul-searching and has decided to make some major changes to his life, the first of which will be buying a . . . Volvo estate.
He’salso been having full body medical examinations on the sly and consequently will be giving up smoking and vetoing alcohol in the week. Andthat’s not all. He’s secretly been shopping for road racing bikes and will be spending every Sunday morning until further notice clad in tightLycra in a worthy bid to improve his cardiovascular fitness.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The man I married 13 years ago owned a Yamaha V-max monster of a motorbike, for heaven’s sake! I loved the fact he grabbed life by the horns and had a full-octane existence.
So when I read last week that 42-year-old Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is having a similar period of reassessment in what he has dubbed a ‘reverse’ mid-life crisis, I couldn’t help sparing a thought for his wife, Mindy. How happy is she that he has traded in his black Lamborghini for a pink camper van, got a sensible hairstyle (finally) and cut down on cigarettes and drinking
But it seems the reverse midlife crisis is more common than we’ve been led to believe. Evidence seems to suggestthat the mid-life crisis is having a bit of an identity crisis of its own. It has been such a widely accepted concept for years that we have grown to expect men to hit their40s and start reliving their youth in an embarrassingly predictable way.
Yet, according to research, this is no longer the case at all. A study conducted by Experian, the credit check company, of 2,000 adults in the UK between the ages of 40 and 59 showed that 85 per cent had made significant changes to their home, family and work lives in a bid to view middle age as a second chance to achieve their ambitions and desires.
I must try to be grateful that my once hellraiser of a hubby is bulk-buying Berocca from the supermarket and worrying about his resting heart rate
The majority also planned to learn a new skill, take up a hobby and start an exercise regime. Comedian Joe Pasquale did just that after winning I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here in 2004. ‘When most men have a mid-life crisis, they go for younger women and motorbikes,’ he jokes. ‘Instead, I went for a BSc with the Open University. I just suddenly realised there was so much more I wanted to learn.’
I know I should be relieved that instead of buying a sports car, Keith has purchased a reliable motor with the added feature of seats that warm up your bottom. And I must try to be grateful that my once hellraiser of a hubby is bulk-buying Berocca from the supermarket and worrying about his resting heart rate.
As I watch him wobbling out of the driveway on his new bicycle, helmet safely secured to his ever-balding head and waterproof Ordnance Survey map stowed in his pocket, I am in no doubt which mid-life direction he has taken and it makes me suddenly, overwhelmingly glad. If only because I know that when my time for a mid-life crisis comes, one of us will still be acting our age. And trust me, it’s not going to be me.