Hypothesis : When the female in a married couple enters menopause, it triggers midlife crisis in the male partner.
Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual and marks the end of menstrual cycles. It can happen in 40s or 50s, average age in United States is 51.
Midlife crisis usually involves changing your entire life in a hurry. It is not a medical diagnosis like menopause. An example of symptoms might be changing jobs, spouses, getting a red sports car. Men most often struggle with this in their 40s and 50s.
My theory (unsubstantiated at this point) is that when a man realizes his female partner can no longer bear him children, he suddenly feels like his time to make a mark on the world is running short. Usually “make a mark” means spread his seed even if he won’t openly admit to that. This is why a 45 year old man might do silly things like bleach & style his hair, buy a red sports car, leave his wife, drink more, etc. Think of the classic example of the man in a midlife crisis from the movie “American Beauty”. He wants to find a new, still fertile, mate.
From an evolutionary perspective, it would make a lot of sense for menopause to trigger midlife crisis in men. By the time menopause begins, the couple will have had all the children they are capable of having and usually those children will have reached an age where they could survive with or without the father present. The man can spread his genes much further by leaving and finding a still fertile mate to have more children with. This would result in a man who had a midlife crisis spreading his genes much further than a man who did not. Over many generations, you would eventually be left with only men who had midlife crises.
So is my theory true? If the theory is correct, can anything be done about it? Or are marriages just doomed to go through rocky times when the female enters menopause and the man starts his midlife crisis?
The HBO television drama “Big Love” gave me an idea on an option here – multiple partners in the same relationship. When the main character starts to have a midlife crisis, he and his wife added another wife to their relationship. The show was a soap opera, and so had lots of ridiculous plotlines.
The idea though is intriguing. The man resolves his midlife crisis without leaving his wife or family. The wife gets another partner for support and help in babysitting. The new wife gets to join an emotionally and financially stable partnership to have her own kids.
I think the reason why polygamy is illegal is not that it is bad for the partners in the marriage (it may be a positive thing) … it is bad for society in general. Why? When you have lots of men with multiple partners, that means that many men out there are left with no partners at all… and a man without a partner can often be unstable and is 3-7 times as likely to be violent and commit crimes. That is why society so strongly fights multiple partners in a marriage.