By Maureen Nakatudde
JUMA Opio, 46, did not understand his wifeâ€™s concern. He thought she was making a fuss about what she perceived as a sudden change in his life. He chewed a lot of gum, had acquired a back pack, wore baggy trousers and had a teen-like swagger.
But away from the public, Opio had become depressed and short tempered. Mariam first related it to his waning sexual urge, then to infidelity and finally, convinced herself he was running mad. He refused to talk to counsellors but when his libido deserted him completely, he agreed to go see a doctor.
Dr. Kyarimpa of Mengo hospital says the symptoms usually affect men in midlife crisis. The manâ€™s sexual prowess declines and the fact that he cannot perform devastates him. He tries to date younger and more exciting girls to fire up his libido, which increases his problems.
â€œIt is important for a man to have an understanding wife,â€ the doctor says, â€œor else the man may even suffer from depression and anxiety.â€
The man discovers that he is closer to death, yet he has not achieved much for his age. Some men seek superficial achievements to show off but others give up and become shabby, Kyarimpa explains. This might involve not shaving, bathing, and being shabby.
Opio was advised to join a peer group at their church where he discovered that his frustration was not unique.
â€œPeople rarely achieve 100% of what they set out to do,â€ he said. â€œIn fact, more than 80% never achieve 80%. I appeal to men whose frustration boils down into their families to remember that all men experience that stage at one time and the majority overcome it.â€
Just as puberty is the transition from childhood to adulthood, midlife is the transition from the â€˜building stageâ€™ to the â€˜mature stageâ€™ of adult life.
There are as many differences between these two halves of adult life as there are between childhood and adulthood, he adds.
The Rev. David Adams, Dean of Glad Tidings Bible College, Kampala, says midlife crisis basically requires social and psychological solutions.
â€œThe common symptoms I have seen include chasing after girls, drinking, frequenting nightclubs, pornography and hanging out with the bad boys in town to fight the aging impression,â€ he says.
Men need understanding not condemnation, if you are to help them successfully. The man and the woman should understand support and be patient with each other till the period lasts. â€œIf a man fails to perform in bed for example, the woman should not charge at him and call him names. She should try as much as possible to support him,â€ Kyarimpa says.
If the worst comes to the worst and the man is under tremendous pressure to perform sexually, for instance if he has a young bride who cannot live without sex, Kyarimpa recommends using sex enhancing drugs like viagra.
However, he advises against self medication. â€œViagra requires a certain cardiovascular health and so it has to be recommended by a medical doctor,â€ he said.
He also advises men to try and keep fit. â€œEngage in physical exercises like aerobics, walking or jogging. This will keep you fit and at the same time change your general outlook towards things.â€
Another prescription is a good diet that will not only provide vital nutrients to your body, but also improve your sexual performance. Remember to reduce the amount of fats and alcohol intake and also stress.
Adams particularly advises against pornography. â€œSince 90% of sexual temptation of men is through eyes, cut off the power of that sexual obsession if you donâ€™t want to end up with the mess of cross-generational sex.
â€œGoing with your daughterâ€™s (or granddaughterâ€™s) agemates devalues your status, family, marriage and yet it doesnâ€™t solve your problem. As you grow older, your love should grow deeper,â€ Adams urges.
How to handle midlife crisis