Book Review: Men Navigating Midlife

Wanted to share about a book that I grabbed recently about men’s issues. To those who have been following me on Instagram and other social media, its a topic that’s close to heart.

And I particularly enjoyed this book. It’s got a good mix of theory and experiences. Very enlightening.

Robyn Vicekers-Willis is a practicing psychologist who specializes in corporate change management. She has written another book before this entitled Navigating Midlife: Women Becoming Themselves. Talk about gender equality.

Recommending it for people trying to get a glimpse into men’s challenges. Here are a few of the things that the book touches on:

1. The hero’s journey

The book shares about the expectations placed on men to expect an epic of a life based on stories of heroes told. And we have to behave in a way that anticipates that: be strong, don’t cry, be daring, swoon the ladies.

But approaching midlife, life might not turn out to be as expected. This part of maturity isn’t only about being conscious about the false expectations placed on these men, but also reshaping them to a more realistic yet still epic story of their life’s direction.

2. Illusions and beliefs

We build our life on the belief that are acquired over the first half of our lives. Some beliefs are held so strongly that we kill and hurt (ourselves?) over them. At a point of maturity, we begin to question and challenge the truth in those beliefs.

It can be a painful process. But it is one that leads to either an affirmation or change.

Beliefs like:

– I can do anything if I work hard enough

– My role is to provide for the family

– I am weak if I show my emotions

3. Male Sexuality Evolving

Typically (and a very generous “typically”, at that), men’s conversations about sex is surrounded with bragging, conquests and jokes on libido. Rarely, do you get honest accounts of intimacy and insecurity as found in this book.

Changes that men go through in their goals in sex. From achieving and giving orgasm, to reproduction, to just experiencing the sensitivity and pleasure of touch.

The book also touches on discovering a connection with “inner femininity”, a philosophical take on breaking down self-identity and discovering previously feared parts of men’s emotions and thoughts.

4. The Support System

The book also touches on what might be the most important thing men need to hear: the types of support that they can engage, discussing options like counselling, workshops, seminars and courses, to retreats and men’s support group.

Stories were so relatable. Accounts on being nervous on the first day of retreat and how the awkwardness was immediately dispelled, or how people slowly eased into sharing about their lives and struggles. Good to know I wasn’t the only one who was self-conscious about sharing emotions.

Conclusion:

There are many more areas covered in the book and this post barely does justice. Work and career, spirituality, values and purpose. It’s a decent read.

Overall, I found it very comprehensive in terms of its coverage on men’s midlife issues. Most of the issues that were addressed were more analogical rather than research-based, which leads me to believe that it’s catered to the lay person who are interested in the topic.

A big portion of this book also encourages readers to tell their own story (which is rich, coming from a book).