Sex

How do you feel about the main currents of your life - career, family responsibilities, your marriage? Particularly, how do you feel about the role that sex plays in your life? For a man of, say, 45 to 55, clear-cut answers to these questions are often difficult. Says a leading London specialist: "The trouble is, too many men push this type of inventory-taking out of their minds."

The executive in this middle age bracket - working under heavy business and domestic pressure - may begin to experience something new: He finds himself tired, listless, too hemmed in by responsibility. He feels run down, and sometimes he notices with alarm that his interest in sex has run down, too. This point he finds dreadfully hard to admit, even to himself. He may even put on blinders, and use pure physical fatigue as the excuse for his weaker sex drive. If he does this, he's kidding himself.

His prime problem is not physical, but emotional. An executive in this spot must take stock of more than his muscle tone and his waistline. First - and most important - there's the wearing thin under the burden of stepped-up emotional pressure. At the office he's likely geared up over everything from possible promotion to a possible merger of the company. Or he may face the rude realization that he has gone as far as he will go in business - and trying to accept this may twist and turn inside him.

On the home front he's pressured by a mix of problems ranging from his teenager's attitude about smoking pot to his frighteningly thin savings in relation to income. His round of social affairs is even getting to be a bore.

There's a second possible cause of his problem - what some physicians call the male climacteric which, to some degree, they say, happens to every man. It usually occurs between 45 and 55, and is a biological-psychological process of aging. The climacteric in some men produces no symptoms at all, but in others it can produce emotions ranging from feelings of futility to dark depression. It may last a few weeks, or as long as a year or so; it varies greatly.

In any case, the danger is that the victim of all these heavy emotional strains and pressures may react quite childishly. Feeling depressed - and with a fear of losing libido - the victim may flirt with real trouble. In rashness he might decide on a quick divorce and remarriage to a woman who better "understands him." This may fail miserably.

Or an otherwise sensible man may put a deep dent in his business career by impulsive, even irrational fits of anger and conflict at the office. Or he may put himself under impossible added burdens, refusing, for instance, to delegate authority. Thus, in trying to prove his worth and shore his sagging confidence, he may push himself deeper into his own miseries.

How does a man win out in this battle of the middle years? If he's smart, he does it largely by learning to understand his own emotions. The first step is some thoughtful self-analysis. If the going gets too rough, the search for understanding needs the aid of a trained person - internist, psychiatrist, or psychologist. One session - or a few - may well do the job.

First, the middle-aged man should understand that a decline in sexual interests is commonplace - and temporary. But the more worry, the worse it gets. He will snap back - on a new but still satisfying level of sex activity - if he gives himself a fair chance. He must know, too, that he's far from alone. His friends in the same age group have similar woes and regrets - even if they won't admit it.

Divorce or a foolish job change aren't the only things to beware. A man shouldn't be fooled into thinking that drugs or health foods or vitamins will put him where he was sexually at age 30 - they won't, doctors say. Also, he shouldn't play mathematics with sex. Once a week is about average at age 50.


Find Out More About Job Pressure

Tensions

Stress, pressure, and tension are part and parcel of the business executive's job - the price he pays for the involvement and responsibilities of executive life. But they're not necessarily harmful. Indeed, the man of action thrives on them, finds them stimulating. Simply holding a responsible position indicates that you can stand more stresses than the average man and probably that you work best when "tensed."

Both psychiatrists and internists emphasize that stress and tension are a normal part of life. Only the dullard is free of them. And, of course, what is a tension-producing, stressful situation to one person will be almost routine to another. It boils down to the individual's own tolerance... see: Tensions