Midlife Crisis: Marry Your Yoga Teacher?

marry your yoga teacherMidlife Crisis: Marry Your Yoga Teacher?

The idea of the midlife crisis is certainly something that we men face at some point in our lives, usually in our forties or fifties, making it a very important subject for the Men After Fifty  blogsite.

As we enter and begin to face the second half of our lives, we men have the opportunity to face our mortality and this brings up existential issues.  What have I accomplished in my life?  What do I have YET to accomplish?  What might I NEVER accomplish?  What will I leave behind?  What kind of person have I been and what kind of person do I WANT to be?  Does my life have meaning?

Some men “act out” on the way to facing these questions and we have the stereotypes of men buying the red convertible, having affairs, getting involved with younger women, perhaps all of the above.  And you can also marry your yoga teacher!

Now I’ve never met Alec Baldwin nor his lovely yoga teacher bride and I truly have no judgments about his nuptials, I’m just using this as a “for instance” to get the attention of my readers (and maybe a tiny bit of SEO).  Nor am I saying that HE is having a midlife crisis, though this type of behavior may reflect that in some men.  Mr. Baldwin is intelligent (love his blogging), handsome, talented, successful, and obviously has had his choice of many, many women.  Being with this woman seems to be for the best, as he appears to be more fit and healthy looking in quite some time, though his recent paparazzi encounters ARE interesting.

Anyway, that is the last I will say about Mr. Alec Baldwin, so let the bait and switch begin and let’s get back to the topic of midlife crisis and the question, “should you marry your yoga teacher?”

The true question is, how to navigate that midlife crisis.  Let me share how I navigated mine in a VERY poor way and it DID involve a yoga teacher.  It is really more about what might be called the Rejuvenation Mystery in some psychology circles.

The rejuvenation mystery is about recapturing that lost youth, exuberance, energy, passion.  In Roman times and probably earlier there was a belief that if an older person slept next to an infant, they would somehow absorb their youthful energies and “rejuvenate”.

More popular in our modern era is the idea of the older man/younger woman and now the “cougar” strategy of the older woman/younger man.  Why is this so common?  I would suggest that it is about the rejuvenation mystery seeking out its resolution.

Yes, for some, this is simply a preference, yet for many, it is an attempt to recapture and reignite those youthful energies, especially as we feel ourselves moving closer and closer to the inevitable ending of this lifetime.

The best advice I ever received about this came from my teacher, Brugh Joy (Joy’s Way, An Introduction to the Potentials for Healing).  My interpretation of his wisdom is to enjoy dancing and flowing in those rejuvenating energies, yet don’t confuse them for something more than they are or something that they are not.

When I arrived upon my midlife crisis in my early forties, I was totally enchanted by a young woman substantially younger than I.  Our time together felt like magic and I felt alive and exuberant and filled full of limerence.  Unfortunately, I was so full of MYSELF, that I also entered into a relationship with a friend of mine who was a yoga teacher.  There was a great deal I was receiving from both relationships and there was also the excitement of juggling them.  My yoga friend knew about the one, but she didn’t know about the yoga teacher, so there was an extra helping of DRAMA to keep things even more exciting.

I was smart enough to know that I was playing with fire and heading for disaster, yet I was also so inflated and high on the energies that I didn’t care.  I imagine that this experience might be similar to the manic episodes that some of my bipolar patients have experienced.

Needless to say it ultimately blew up, my heart was broken over the younger woman, my yoga teacher friend was deeply hurt by me, and all of this tainted the next relationship I eventually entered.  I EXPERIENCED the lesson my teacher, Brugh, had shared with me years earlier.  I confused my experience of the rejuvenation mysteries with love and the potential for relationship and paid a huge cost.

If I had been a little more aware, a little more (forgive me this word) enlightened, I could have perhaps simply enjoyed the company of this ripe younger woman for what it was.  We each had something to offer each other and if I could have accepted her gifts without projecting into the future, it might have been different.  If I was able to stay centered and not create a romantic fantasy, I wouldn’t have set myself up for such heartache.

Yes, our internal psychodynamics played into it, my need to feel vital and powerful, her need perhaps for a loving, nurturing, successful father figure, kept it all in motion past the expiration date of the lesson.  If I was more present and grounded, I would have listened and believed her early on when she shared “everything ends”.

What I wanted was to create my own world with her of love, lust and intensity.  What I needed was to remember who I was, experience my vitality, creativity, passion and aliveness, be grateful to her for this precious gift, and move forward in my life.  Alas, letting go, especially with that strong surge of intense neurotransmitters and hormones flooding my body, was not something I could do.

I paid a huge price for admission through the midlife crisis gateway into the second half of life.  The lesson I learned has helped me to support many men as they enter this period of their lives.  Some have learned from my mistakes and let the energies burn without the need to act them out and inflict pain upon themselves and their loved ones.  Some have been more stubborn, as I was, and needed to learn a tougher although perhaps more lasting lesson.

I also learned NOT to confuse the teacher with the teaching.  We are ALL less than perfect.  On the good days, I aspire to “walk the talk” and there are also days that I am woefully human and fallible.  My path, my lessons are what help me to connect compassionately and empathically with the people I work with.  I am no better and no worse than they, only willing to share myself and my gifts to make their lives a little bit easier.

There you have my brief thoughts about this topic.  I would love to hear yours.  AND, I would love to hear thoughts from women as well as men on this issue that can potentially impact us all.

My final answer on the question “should you marry your yoga teacher?”  If you love them and want to build a life with them, ABSOLUTELY!

Thank you so much,

Adam Sheck

Comments

  1. WOW Adam, thanks for sharing. Mid-Life Crisis is tough.What keeps me grounded is God. I have had temptations and it is so flattering but,I also have a husband that loves me no matter what and that unconditional love is so nice to have in my life.What you went through can be exciting but I think I will keep my excitement within my marriage because of my faith and my husband’s love for me.

  2. Adam, your naked honesty is striking in its clarity and universality. I have been there. Not with yoga teachers/ assistants/ or students but younger women and HAVE NO regrets. It did rejuvenate. In reflection, it may have cost some time but so what? That is life. Go for the experience and as long as the cards are on the table let the chips fall where they may. A HOE!

  3. Cheyenne says:

    Adam
    This article brings insight on two things, I left my first husband because he was having affairs with younger women and I’m “that yoga instructor” . Then I fell in love with my current husband who in turn lusted after “the yoga instructor” which was me. He did the exact same behavior you shared with us and I was just clueless. Of coarse I became pregnant and he wanted to do the right thing and marry me I guess. Because a few months after marriage all his lies blew up in his face and I was crushed. All my trust I had put in him were gone and left wondering if he ever really loved me. My self-esteem went down the tube and felt like a nobody, just that girl that he got pregnant. And left wondering if he still lust after other women. However over the coarse of our first year of marriage (which was rough) he did lust after other women and I had to lay my expectations out and tell him he has and was hurting me tremendously. He did listen very much so and made every effort in changing because my view and love for him was more important than what I was leading to believe. However I still do not competly trust him and feel like he still hides things from me. If I can learn to trust him we would have it made!!!!

    Thanks
    Chey

    • Chey,
      Thank you SO much for sharing your insights and experience from such a vulnerable place. It’s such a challenge for all of us to “wake up” and really see who we are with and choose them from that place. As far as I can tell, there are no quick fixes, just doing our own work and then couples work as appropriate. I’ve worked with many couples over the last twenty years to help them rebuild lost trust, so I know that it
      CAN be done when both are committed to the process.
      Wish you the best in this,
      Adam

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